Simple Ways to Make Treasure Hunting a New Career


Do your ears perk up at the sound of the word “treasure”? If so, it is not an unusual reaction. There’s a lot of romance associated with the term in addition to the idea of treasure as bountiful wealth. However, the definition or meaning of the word changes from person to person. Someone you know might think of treasure as piles of gold coins or rare gems hidden away in a vault or secret place. You might think of treasure as the pile of family albums that sit on a bookshelf in a proud place in your home. And of course, the idea that “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” is a classic concept.

Webster’s Dictionary says that treasure means a few things, including “..wealth (such as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded buried treasure …wealth of any kind or in any form : riches …something of great worth or value; also: a person esteemed as rare or precious…a collection of precious things.”

That array of meanings is handy because it uses terms like “great worth” and “esteemed”. It also tosses in “rare” as well as the expected “buried treasure” idea, too. So, if you are looking to shift gears or find a lucrative “side gig”, you will want to consider the role of modern day treasure hunter.

Modern Treasure Hunters

The good news is that successful treasure hunters are not out there in the world digging in jungles, desert islands and other far off places to find troves of loot. In fact, many don’t even think of themselves as successful treasure hunters at all. Their searches don’t involve shovels, the use of hours of research or traveling to far away places. Instead, they turn the definition of treasure on its head and instead hunt for opportunity that leads to wealth (or a tidy profit).

Just think, they could be people who just make a habit of looking for valuable goods whenever and wherever opportunity arises.

For example, successful treasure hunters include people who make a point of flipping through the pages of hotel bibles because it is not unusual for others to tuck cash or valuables between the pages. They might also run their fingers along bathroom ledges, inside cabinets, and even look between mattresses (this takes all of ten minutes) or inside zippered cushions because these areas so often yield valuable discoveries.

They are also the folks who strategically map out weekends of yard sale hunting, estate sale visits and even trips to auction sites to see if there is a bit of untapped treasure tucked away somewhere. Of course, these are also people who have a trained eye for the sorts of items that translate to high returns. The unrecognized collectible, Bakelite jewelry, rare toy…this is their stock and trade, and it can pay off hugely.

Obviously, you may not want to count on such discoveries as a way to bring in extra income, but keeping an eye open for opportunity is one of the most common tips for treasure hunting made by those who have enjoyed success using it.

So, if you are eager to develop a side gig, boost income or transition from a boring day job to an exciting career as a treasure hunter, we have some very effective tips for treasure hunting below. Some of these tips require that you invest in a bit of additional gear or create a routine around your treasure hunting goals, but most are within easy reach.

Top Tips for Treasure Hunting Success

By now, you are probably starting to get curious about the options for successful treasure hunting, and maybe even coming up with a few alternatives that could fit into the definition we’ve been working on. Let’s see what other successful treasure hunters have come up with.

Dumpster diving – This is something that should be far more popular as it yields an amazing amount of income for those who are really dedicated to it. We have written about it in previous articles and learned that people do it very seriously as well as a sort of casual way to tap into unexpected income. You might be someone who turns your dumpster diving into a complex activity in which you scour dumpsters for items that can or will have value (for example, one man found a trove of discarded exit signs with 12-volt batteries that he later used to revamp discarded scooters and profit around $150 on each sale!).

You can also be the sort of dumpster diver who knows about community trash days and uses that as a rare opportunity to acquire potentially valuable goods. For example, people routinely “curb” items as pricey as golf clubs, electronics, antique furniture, art and much more.

Then, there is the dumpster diving that most of us envision upon hearing the term; the hopping into a dumpster behind a large store. This is where those unique items can also be found (in addition to canned goods, returned items, and more).

Take time to learn a bit more about dumpster diving as it is one of the easiest ways to turn into a modern-day treasure hunter and enjoy immense success. Do not go for the broadest range of approaches, though. You probably won’t profit much if you amass so many items that you find it hard to track what you have, where to sell it and so on. Instead, start with a targeted approach, such as looking for a few big box stores’ dumpsters to peruse. Learn their schedules and visit them when you know they may be ripe with goods you can re-sell through proven channels such as eBay or Amazon. Some big sellers include discards from makeup stores, toiletries, electronics, games, toys, clothing, books, magazines, and opened items unable to be resold due to missing pieces or packaging.

With a bit of research, planning and organization, you may find that the trash in your area is that famous “another man’s (or woman’s) treasure”. Namely, your treasure!

House-combing – This is exactly as it sounds, and then again, it isn’t. There are two ways that house-combing works. The first is the more obvious – you go through your entire home (top to bottom) and look for the unused and unwanted items that probably have an active buyer out there, somewhere.

As an example, when I bought my previous home, it had a horrible crawlspace, quite frankly like something out of a horror film. There was a burst pipe in one of the walls, and so it became important to air out that space to prevent mold or mildew. Crawling in to position the powerful blower unit, I saw a big plastic tub tucked in an out of the way spot just around the inside of the wall. With yanking and pulling I was able to retrieve it and discovered it was full of a lovely set of antique china that I was able to sell to a local shop at a hefty profit.

While that’s one of those wonderful rare opportunity moments, many of us have uncharted corners in the attic and basement. We also have all kinds of items that serve no purpose and which have value.

Take time to start scouring every corner of the home, and if something has no function or purpose, decide to toss it, sell it or give it away. You may find that you have items good only for a yard sale, but that alone might net a tidy sum. Then again, you may discover rare books, valuable tools or toys, and all kinds of unexpected windfalls.

Among some of the biggest tips for treasure hunters is to take the time to look through all of the coins and currency in your home. “Coin roll hunting” is one way that modern treasure hunters find valuable goods in their homes. For instance, American coins dating before 1964 contain around 90% silver and you can sell them for the “intrinsic” value of the silver. However, you also want to see if there is an “extrinsic” value such as a rare coin. The same goes for pennies dating prior to 1983, which have value for their copper or value for their scarcity. So, when house combing, don’t overlook coin jars, piggy banks and your wallet as these may be untapped sources of wealth.

Then there is the other side of house-combing, and that is the legal exploration of abandoned properties that don’t belong to you. Note, I said legal.

Just because no one is caring for a building and it has been empty for years, it is not always legal to go tromping through it seeking valuables. The best thing to do is find out if an owner is around, and if so, seek permission to enter the building with the intention to rummage. You may have to agree to share profits, but then again, the owners may not care at all and tell you that you enter at your own risk and can keep whatever is found.

Urban exploring is something many do just for fun and even to get eerie or interesting photos. Then again, there are a lot of stories of amazing treasures being discovered in such places. Successful treasure hunters usually look for glass jars, coins, art, rugs, bottles, and even old newspapers or books. You could be lucky enough to find things like popular pieces of china, silverware and much more.

If you are familiar with architecture, you might also strike it rich with bigger items to shift such as mantels, fixtures and other items that renovators and DIY homeowners are happy to pay big bucks to own.

Beachcombing–If you are willing to spend time wandering empty beaches, you can also turn up some mighty treasures. There are a few ways that this can work. The first is just to use your naked eye to look for lost items. Jewelry, watches and even the occasional cell phone or other costly electronic might be left behind at the end of the day.

If you are not willing to leave it up to your vision, you can also get a bit more involved by purchasing a metal detector. These can range from the highest priced luxury models to bare bones units that hit on items just barely below the sand or grass. Either way, you can turn a daily walk along the shore (or anywhere else with grass, soil or sand) into a potentially lucrative outing.

There are even models that can go into the water with you, which is a nearly sure-fire way to find things like rings that so commonly fall off in the water.

Keep in mind that many people still have no problem littering beaches or areas of parkland or public space. This too can become a potential treasure hunt if you are willing to collect all of the bottles and cans that are so often discarded. While doing a good deed, you can also cash in on these items. In fact, if it is a big problem, you may even offer to put brightly marked collection points along a beach or another area and use this as a means of earning income via recycling. In our article Make Money Selling Recyclables we even provided a step by step system for doing just that.

This brings us to the end of our brief look at ways to make treasure hunting a new career or part-time job. You can also explore options for book buying and selling and never forget that storage unit auctions are also a potential treasure trove, but only if you know just what you are bidding on (or have a good idea of what’s inside).

There are many ways you can find money (i.e. treasure) all around you. It takes a keen eye to recognize some of the opportunities, though. Hopefully, these tips for treasure hunting can help you discover the best methods for your interests and capabilities. And as I always remind readers – never overlook the income that might come from blogging and affiliate marketing around any interest or activity. Those weekends using your metal detector or your work setting up a profitable recycling initiative would be ideal blog topics and through them, you can bring in consistent and passive income via affiliate marketing, which is a hidden treasure all on its own!


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