If you're looking to put some extra cash in your pocket, recycling scrap metal is as good a way as any to save up for a new television or sock money away for a vacation. Once you get the hang of it, recycling scrap metal takes relatively little time and effort, and you can do it in your spare time. However, there is a learning curve when you first get started. You have to learn which recycling centers pay the most and how much various metals are worth. (Hint: a good rule of thumb is that if a magnet won't stick to it, it will be worth more than metal that a magnet will stick to.) But the biggest hurdle for most new scrap metal recyclers is figuring out where to find unwanted metal. Here are a few places to get you started.
If you've ever seen an episode of Storage Wars, you know that it's not uncommon for renters to abandon a storage locker when they can't pay the rent. Storage units are a great place to find old metal – people often use them to store everything from car parts to tools to bicycles to appliances – all things that contain recyclable metals. It's not the treasure that the storage auction bidders are typically looking for, but you can make a decent amount of cash by recycling the metal items that no one else wants to deal with.
Try contacting local storage companies to find out if they're in need of someone to come by and clear out items that have been removed from abandoned storage units. It's worth making a few trips to the dump to get rid of the things you can't sell if you also find enough metal to take to the recycling center.
Appliance Repair Shops
Refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers can be small gold mines for a scrap metal recycler, so why not go to where the appliances are? Small appliance repair shops in your city may be sitting on broken parts or even whole appliances that are beyond repair and are taking up too much space.
Contact the shop owners and ask them if they have anything that they need to get rid of, and leave your contact information as well. Let them know you're available to come pick up appliances or parts that are in their way. If you create a relationship with the appliance shops in your area, they'll call you first when they need someone to pick up the metal scrap they can't keep. If appliance shops aren't working out for you, you can try the same thing with local mechanics or plumbing and hardware supply shops – two more good sources for metal pieces and parts that are no longer wanted.
Farm Dump Sites
If you live in a more rural area and don't have easy access to lots of shops and storage facilities, you're still not out of luck. Try hitting up nearby farmers and ranchers for access to their dump sites. Large farms and ranches often have a designated spot for garbage and junk, and there you can find anything from broken tools and fencing to junk cars and farming equipment.
Even if the farm's dump site is visible and accessible, you still need to ask permission before you go onto anyone's property looking for scrap metal – otherwise, you could face legal consequences for stealing. Just approach the farm's owner and ask – they may be relieved to have an easy way to get rid of their junk and clutter.
Once you figure out the best places to look for scrap metal in your local area, you'll be able to visit them regularly to collect junk to trade in for cash. With a little creativity, you can turn scrap metal recycling into a simple side business that gives you a little more flexibility in your budget.