The Tyranny of “Free”

These days we are bedeviled with two tempting sources of free stuff: Craig’s List and Freecycle.  A visit to either site can feel like finding ten bucks in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn in awhile. Every day you’ve got a new opportunity to win the jackpot.

So, what’s the problem?

People have a more convoluted relationship with free stuff than they do with stuff they buy. Buying something involves a decision to spend money. If you don’t buy the item, you have the money to use for something else. Also, if you don’t buy the item, someone else will.

When something is free, you have to think of reasons not to acquire it since there’s no money involved. You could even look at it as saving money if the item in question is something you now don’t have to buy.  Even if you don’t need that thing in the foreseeable future, you might, so there’s no reason not to take it. It’s free!

Free stuff is hard to turn down.

Once these treasures are brought home, they tend to stay there. Now you’re responsible for them and they start to grow on you. You care about them as much as you do the stuff you paid good money for, sometimes even more because you got such amazing value for no money at all.

I’m not a minimalist and I certainly believe in the redemptive power of shopping. The trick is to make sure you buy things you need and/or love, rather than acquiring for its own sake. Another good strategy is to keeping moving things out of your life to make more room for new ones to come in.

Try to resist the freebies unless you either love them or need them.