Quit Your Free Thinking!

FREE is not a compelling reason to acquire something you do not need and will not use.

I love saving money, but bringing things into my home I do not need does NOT save me money. Buying things with a coupon I wouldn’t have purchased otherwise is NOT saving me money. Purchasing excess stuff at garage sale prices can be more expensive than saving my money to pay full price for something I really want.

Purchasing for my kids is not an exception. Instead of filling stockings and Easter baskets with an abundance of “cheap” junk, it is better to have fewer items that are more meaningful (not necessarily expensive).

Stop feeling like you need to fill a void with stuff.

Free things come with a cost. Every time you have to touch, clean, or move something, that is a cost. Your time is valuable! You pay rent for every item taking up space in your home. Manufacturer’s pay for those samples in some way, usually with increased product prices. Fellow consumers are paying for that pile of unused samples.

Clutter costs your peace and energy. Anything sitting around our homes that is not beautiful or functional is clutter.

I love a good deal. A good deal is when you save money for something you were going to buy no matter what. For my baby, I was able to find a used crib, swing, and a few other things at awesome second-hand prices. Some friends have even given me awesome baby stuff for FREE, but I have also turned down kind offers of free stuff I don’t need by saying “no thank you”. When I redecorated my daughters’ rooms, I was on the lookout for quality used wood dressers and night stands that could be re-finished, and ended up finding awesome stuff for prices I loved. Free stuff and good deals are awesome, but let’s just be smart about it, okay?

Holidays can be a time when the need for FREE and DEALS and COUPONS comes out in a crazy way in people. Don’t be a crazy person! Let’s focus on the people we love and the meaning of the holidays we celebrate, not all the stuff.

Phew, so glad to get that off my chest.  Carry on!


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11 thoughts on “Quit Your Free Thinking!

  1. Love this Mary! I was just saying to my husband last night that I don’t have much for my kids’ stockings yet and he said we can just fill them with a bunch of dollar store stuff closer to Christmas. But I’ve spent the last few months decluttering dollar store stuff that they’ve been given over the years so why would I buy more now? I’m going to find a few things they’ll actually use as well as some consumable items and put those in instead. Thanks for a great reminder to keep the clutter down!

  2. Mary, I was hoping to get your thoughts on this as a fellow organizer. I have had some clients’ kids come to me about couponing, presumably because couponers are so organized, and I started watching these couponing shows, and now my grocery store is running a program to get “free” r@chel r@y dinnerware if you save stamps (can you say, clutter saved up in stamp booklets, yields yet more clutter!). I just had an exchange with a frantic woman in my grocery store about it. She and the people on these shows are just enthralled in what I am starting to think of as The Gospel of Free. She said – and so many on those shows say – “Why not? It’s free!!!” Like I am the dumb one for not taking free goods. These people are stockpiling these “free” items for “one day”, when their kids move out of the house. Well, your home isn’t free, so none of the space in it is free, either. Your time and effort managing a stockpile for “one day” has value – most people I know don’t feel they have enough time or space, so using both of these precious things to store “free” items they may never have a use for is such a waste. Not to mention, I guarantee most of these people will end up buying additional pieces to complete a “set,” making these items not free in the end, anyway. Do you have to deal with this much? If so, do you have any handy catch phrases you use to respond to, “Why not, it’s FREE?!?”

    1. I still remember my History teacher in High School repeating over and over and over “There is no such thing as free.” I think of that all the time. It is so true. So I tell my clients and anyone who will listen “There is no such thing as free” as many times as they need to hear it. I am definitely not into couponing, but people ask me couponing questions all the time like I would know.:) I just don’t think it is a good idea, but yes, organizers get clumped in with couponers, because it takes a lot of organizing to keep up with all the couponing and stockpiles. It just doesn’t fit in with my philosophy!

      So, in short, “There is no such thing as free.” That is my little catch-phrase. :)

  3. Everything else you’ve written is lovely … Except this. I can’t get this out of my head, because it sounds so, sorry to say, condescending toward those who coupo. It really sounds like you’ve got a stereotype of an extreme couponer in mind, one who goes store-to-store clearing shelves to get duplicate items because they’re free. Then they’ve got their hallway lined with shelves or a bedroom turned stockroom and probably can’t use stuff before it expires. I hope that’s what you mean, because I know plenty of people who use coupons to buy a normal amount of groceries for much less, and that seems like a smart use of money to me. I can’t imagine why you’d think paying more for the same item is a better idea. It has zero to do with clutter control. Saving money doesn’t mean crazy hoarding. In fact, I’ve been hitting the sales but not stacking coupons with them, and it’s high time I did. Maximizing our income DOES fit in with MY philosophy.

    1. Well, to be honest, I think you’ve chosen to read more into my words than I’ve written and be offended.

      “FREE is not a compelling reason to acquire something you do not need and will not use.”

      “A good deal is when you save money for something you were going to buy no matter what.”

      “Free stuff and good deals are awesome, but let’s just be smart about it, okay?”

      Those were some of the lines from this blog post. I still stand behind this 100%. This is an important reminder to people to not bring things into their home that they do not need and most likely will not use. Becoming better at this step means less de-cluttering in the long run.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to comment tonight. I truly appreciate hearing from my readers even when they disagree with me. :)

  4. Thank you Mary, for your reminder about couponing…I stack coupons with store sales, and as a result never pay for toothpaste, shampoo and some other consumer goods…It is a system that does work, but like anything, can be taken too far!! I admit I have had things that expired without being used, and had to be thrown away!! This was something I needed to hear and served as a wake-up call to me!! I too have 4 kids and am digging out from junk and clutter that has gathered over time…the message that there will be some casualties along the way really helps me…most of my stuff remains because of the fear that I may “want that some day”

  5. If you have too much free stuff like food, household supplies or beauty products please donate to a shelter or food bank before it expires.

  6. My kids are 20 and 18 and I still put fruit in stockings. While both healthy and take up space in the stockings, it also serves as a reminder of how blessed we are. When my dad was growing up as #6 of 8 kids, he considered himself lucky to get a piece of fruit and an article of clothing for Christmas in post-WW2 rural Oklahoma…

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