No, not THAT “F” word. This is a family friendly post!
The “F” word that can be a stumbling block when we are decluttering…FREE.
Does anyone else struggle with the allure of “Free” items? I’m a total sucker for free…anything. Today, because I’m desperately trying to declutter our lives, I’m trying to fight this urge.
Free – Friend or Foe?
In the past, I would make a beeline for the free items at every conference, health fair, and sponsored event that I attended. I loved the bags, the pens, the water bottles, the notepads, and anything specifically for kids.
Some things we have received free are great – I’m thinking particularly of the reusable shopping bags. I also received a free reusable cold drink cup which I use almost everyday from the Broad Street Run. Our current television was free from my husband’s brother and it is newer than our old one, which was also free!
Pens and pencils are also useful, but there is a limit to how many ad adorned pens you can use in a house. We have a drawer full of pens from different events or stores. They are still full of ink so I don’t want to get rid of them, but I’m doubtful that we will need so many of them. I am genuinely relieved when a pen runs out of ink or breaks so I can throw it away!
My former ways:
- When my oldest was a toddler we would regularly go grab a fast food kids meal – a lot of times for the free toy!
- Every time I was at a health fair or education fair, I would grab the freebies being offered with glee.
- I would sign up for new email lists, new blogs because of giveaways and a chance to win something…for FREE!
- I would accept things from friends who are moving if I thought I “might be able to use that in some way”
My Reformed Ways:
- We rarely go to any type of fast food today. If we do and my youngest son wants to keep the free kids toy, I’ll let him. As soon as he shows disinterest, which is almost immediate, I throw it out.
- Now when I’m at an event which offers free things to get people to the table, I walk by. If something genuinely interests me I will go to their table to have a conversation, but not take what they are offering.
- Today I will only sign up for new blogs or email lists if I truly will not mind getting an email from this person or organization. I’m far from streamlined in my email inbox, but I’m learning how to unsubscribe if something does not add value to this particular season of my life.
I hope that my blog posts add value to your life, but if they don’t I completely understand if you unsubscribe. In the spirit of this post, I’ll be making my “Atypical Decluttering Guide” available without signing up for the email list. You can take a look at it here if you’re interested.
- When people move, I try not to take anything unless I have a specific place or purpose for that item. I’m learning that most large objects that contain things or have a flat surface hinder more than help.
Free…or is it?
Nothing that we take into our life and homes is free. Emily at Minimal Millennial outlines how there is no such thing as free stuff. We pay for the stuff with our time, space, and energy.
I recently heard Bea Johnson being interviewed on a podcast about her zero waste lifestyle. One thing that particularly resonated was that every time we take that plastic pen (insert any plastic giveaway here), we are making a statement to manufacturers and marketers about what we want. That was a paraphrase, but it struck a chord with me. It’s not just a pen. The smallest actions that we take have a larger ripple effect on our economy and our environment. Click To Tweet
I’m resolving to do the first R of her 5Rs – Refuse. The first step in a zero waste lifestyle is to take in less things. We can all do that.
How do you feel about the “F” word?
This post shared at these Link Ups: Simply Natural Saturdays, Small Victories Sunday, Sundays Down Under
Oh my gosh, my mantra used to be, ” If it’s. Free it’s for me.” Slowly I’m changing my mindset and mantra. Things were not making me happy.
Living in my less cluttered house is making me happy!
Yes! So true Melinda!
One time i got into a standoff with a hotel desk clerk because i asked for a forgotten toothbrush and would not take the comb, razor and hand full of other stuff for FREE.
That’s awesome Rebecca! I think I probably would’ve just accepted it and regretted it later.
After a lot of years of dealing with the aftermath of “free stuff”–which is storing and managing it, whether or not you actually USE it!–I’ve come to realize that it really is NOT free. The dealing-with-it costs, dearly, over time, in the niggling nitpicking way that only “too-much-ness” can suck your soul dry in infinitesimally small increments…the death of a thousand paper cuts. I am so grateful for our recent move, because of the drastic new pair of eyes it gave me, to see the thing-ness of our belongings for what it is: at our disposal. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is useful. Everything is lawful, but not everything builds up.” –Paul of Tarsus, somewhere in there.
I couldn’t agree with you more Peg. I’m finding things are costing me in time and space – two things I value way more than the actual object.
The old adage there’s no such thing as a free lunch is true. While something may not cost money there is always a cost in another way. It could be time or peace of mind.
Definitely Micha! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Love this, Angela! “Refuse” is a great way to get started – I wish I would have refused a lot of the stuff that came into my home in years past. But, now that I’m starting fresh, I’ll look forward to using that as a mini-mantra for things that aren’t necessary 🙂
Thanks Emily! Yes, refusing sure would have helped reduce the clutter in our house. I’m glad to make the change now though! Thank you for reading and commenting!
LOL! I’m just the opposite. If it’s free, I assume it’s lesser quality, and I’m not interested. Love your description that you’re an aspiring minimalist. I’m Queen of Minimalism. My husband used to say if he hadn’t read the paper within 30 minutes of it appearing in our house, I would throw it away. My mother-in-law once said, “This will be a great house when you get it furnished,” to which he replied, “It is furnished, mother.” Brenda
Ha! Brenda that is so funny! No one would make that mistake in our home – it is very furnished. Thanks for the comment!
Liz Jo says
Yes I agree! I’ve gotten far pickier about “free” things nowadays. Don’t have the room to have things that don’t matter to me.
liz jo @ sundays with sophie
So true Liz Jo! I don’t have the room either!
Jane Gramlich says
Ironic that we need to free ourselves from the free stuff! But I believe it is indeed a turning trend.
It is ironic indeed!
Angela, you are so correct that nothing we bring into our lives is truly free. It takes up time and space and often brings us anxiety and aggravation. The “F” word is so alluring but not always in a healthy way.
Yes Sheryl – free usually doesn’t mean value or valuable!
KCLAnderson (Karen) says
You make a GREAT point in regards to signing up for newsletters in order to get the “free” thing…oftentimes I don’t even use the free thing, even though I downloaded it. It takes up space, even if just in my computer. Clutter (and the effect is has on us) doesn’t have to be physical!
I’m with you on that Karen! I have to make a conscious decision NOT to sign up just for the free thing. I often do t read the free thing either.
BreAnna | Crafty Coin says
I can totally relate! The worst for me is the free candy jar at work. There can be something in there that I don’t even like, but just because it’s free, I take a piece! This is a great reminder. Thanks! 🙂
Me too BreAnna! Not good for the waistline! ?
Vashti Quiroz-Vega says
Hi! Free stuff is great, but through the years I’ve learned to ask myself, do I really need it, or am I getting it simply because it’s free? Of course, I have not yet applied that to my Kindle and I have more books in there than I could read in a lifetime, but I’m working on it. 😉
It’s true Vashti – my first impulse is to sign up or take the free thing, but it’s not really free!
Lauren Ivy Chiong says
What terrific advice, Angela! I couldn’t agree more. When I recently completed a cross-country move, it was a great chance to get rid of lots of things I didn’t need. So happy I did!
I’m always slightly envious of folks like you Lauren who have the push of a move to get rid of things that are just taking up space but not valued. I’m trying to approach decluttering that way – would I want to move it? Thanks for your comment!
Seana Turner says
The acquisition of “free” items is typically mindless, and anytime we bring items into our space mindlessly, we are likely to experience clutter build-up. I’ve taken similar steps at conferences, and now I won’t even walk out of a meeting with an agenda unless I absolutely need it.
That’s great Seana! It’s true that free typically equates clutter which most of us don’t need!