Do You Love “Free” Stuff?

Have you ever been driving down the road and seen something marked “FREE”?

In the previous places I lived, I don’t ever remember that happening, not even in the neighborhoods around my college campus. But in the Seattle area, it happens all the time (at least during the spring/summer months when it’s not pouring down rain).

We had a “dog couch” in the garage at our first house that had come from the roadside. It was ugly, but comfortable and the dogs loved it. This last summer, we picked up some flower boxes that a neighbor had left out. And a few months ago, C couldn’t resist a dining room table. Luckily, J talked him out of the chairs.

While the flower boxes are in use, the dining room table simply became a flat surface in our basement and currently holds “stuff”. I keep thinking that maybe I’ll clean it off and have a space to do puzzles, but I don’t really spend that much time in the basement.

C is constantly wanting to get the “free” stuff he drives past, and it’s up to me to curb his hoarding tendencies. Because for the most part, it will just become more “stuff” in our lives, stuff we don’t really need.


And yet, I understand the appeal of “free”. I mean, the value proposition on anything looks really good if the only thing you have to do to get it is load it up and cart it home. When we listed the Giant Robot Hand free to good home, as long as someone would come pick it up, it found a new place to live in a single afternoon. Free is powerful, even when what you’re getting is useless.


But there has to be more to the value proposition than just money. Getting things just because they are free is a lot like buying something just because it’s on sale. If you don’t need it, if you have no use for it, why is it coming in to your home? You aren’t saving money. You’re just accumulating junk, junk that you may very well have to pay to get rid of someday.


This isn’t meant to be a post about hoarding, or even stuff. It’s about taking the time to think about what you bring into your life, and it applies any time you’re taking what someone else is giving you, indiscriminately.

It can apply to your material wants- do you really want that, or is it just what the commercials say you should want? It can apply to your goals- do you really want to do that, or is it someone else’s dream for you? In either case, no thinking for yourself is required. Talk about free and easy.

It can even apply to the people in your life. Are they there because you want them to be, or because it’s just easier not to move on? We collect friends on our Facebook pages and followers on Twitter. But should it really be about quantity?


I’m not saying anyone is bad for having lots of Facebook friends (I certainly have plenty) or Twitter followers (not so many). I’m not saying it’s bad if you collect things or want a Giant Robot Hand in your house. I’m just asking is it only there because the cost was “free”?


What is the value proposition?


Not all free things are bad. Sometimes, even things that you would normally call bad, can be great. Today, my creativity was sparked by spam messages on my blogs, and I turned them into a Spam Poem. That turned out to be a great value proposition.