Free Isn’t Always Free!

A few weeks ago my wife and I were offered a free king size bed. At first we were excited we have only had a queen size since we have been married. We never had a problem with it until about two years ago, when we went on vacation and the hotel we stayed at had a king size. Ever since it has been on our mind to get our own.

That being said when we were offered this free gift, we almost jumped on it immediately,after talking about it we decided to turn it down. Why you may ask, the answer is simple and yet complex.

To start, we had just saved up (or more accurately my wife had just saved up) the money to pay in cash for a new comforter set. Which for me was a pretty big deal because growing up I never had anything like this. On top of that we just paid for paint to paint our bedroom to match the comforter set.

Our reasoning for turning this down was that if we did accept it we would then have to get rid of the recently purchased set, either give it away (something that we had JUST bought), or sell it ,which would not give us anywhere near the amount we paid for it.

On top of not enjoying the new comforter set we have just purchased we would also have to pay additional money to get a new set for the new bed. Even a relatively inexpensive one would cost additional money that we don’t feel like paying for at this time.

This reminded me of a section on a awesome book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. In chapter four “You Aren’t What You Drive” under “No Rolls-Royce, Please” it talks about a business man. When he discovers that his business partners are in the process of purchasing him a gift of a Rolls-Royce, he actually calls and says thanks but no thanks to a Rolls.

What is his reason for doing this? He doesn’t want to live the type of lifestyle a man who owns a Rolls would. There are restaurants that he enjoys going to that would not work to have a Rolls in their parking lot. He also goes fishing every weekend. Can you imagine throwing your catch of the day in the back seat of a Rolls? No, neither can I.

If It’s Free It’s For Me

Now yes, I am a huge proponent to the phrase “if it’s free it’s for me” and for the most part I live by that rule, and it has served me well. My computer chair which I was going to spend around $50 to $100 to get one just like it, was found next to the dumpster in my condo complex and my wife brought it in saving us money.

My wife also spends time on Shopkicks which saves us a ton of money. Using this simple app she has made enough to get complete Tupperware set for free, $50.00 off a brand new tablet at best buy, decorated our whole house with curtains, pillows, lamps and a few odds and ends.

We also needed another counter top in our kitchen, and wanted to get a moving island for it. Instead, though my mother-in-law was getting rid of a table from her job that isn’t exactly the same as we were looking for, but would work. A fresh coat of paint and there we go our own moving island and we didn’t pay a dime.

When things are offered for free it’s always good to think about exactly how much that “free” is going to cost. Is it something you can simply start using without any additional time or money? Something you actually need, or is it something that would just clutter up your life a little more? Is it something that in order to use in a useful way you have to spend a lot of time or money?

Free Isn’t Always Free

Going back to the Rolls example, imagine that he accepted that gift with open arms. He kept it safe at home those times a Rolls would be inappropriate. Even still he would have to pay for insurance, especially if he keeps his original vehicle. He would also have to pay more in gas (can’t put regular in a Rolls I’m sure, not even going to look it up I’m so sure), have to pay more just for basic maintenance, an oil change would even be more than most vehicles. And of course you would have to polish it with a baby diaper to make sure it stays nice a shiny.

Most of us will never be offered a Rolls-Royce in our life, or be able afford one for that matter. But, we can still be offered “free”  things that will cost us more money in the long run.

For instance, a good friend offered us a free Shiba Inu. If you don’t know what that is look it up, it is by far my favorite animal, and to be honest my wife and I would love to have one.

What we did was evaluate our current financial situation. We are struggling to care of ourselves, adding an additional mouth to feed would only add to the stress. Additionally, the amount of time spent with a pet isn’t free either, it takes away from things that we should or could be doing. Instead of getting up in the morning and working on a new article, or driving for Lyft, or anything else I would have to use this time to take care of a dog. Walking the dog, feeding the dog, bathing the dog, spending time with it are all things that are not “free”.


 Many, many things that are offered for free should be accepted, you should take the opportunity to get something that you don’t have to pay for, especially if it’s something that you’ve wanted  but couldn’t afford. The problem comes when you accept things that are going to cost you additional money or time. We should all think objectively before we simply accept “free” stuff.

Have you ever turned down something “free” because how much it was going to cost you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Disease Called Debt

10 thoughts on “Free Isn’t Always Free!”

  1. I relate to the bed dilemma. My husband surprised me one year with a King Sized bed for our anniversary…after I had spent a couple of years accumulating high thread count sheets, blankets etc for several Christmases/birthdays for our queen. After 3-4 years we’ve managed to transition and now it would be hard to move back to a queen, but at first it was frustrating to see all that good bedding go to waste.

    For a long time, my husband has had an approach where if something offers you something free, take it. We’ve finally gotten to the point where he agrees that it’s led to an overaccumulation of stuff in our house, and now we are more picky but also have a lot of decluttering to do.

    1. I think we are currently in the over accumulation stage right now and are starting to piece by piece get rid of everything, it feels way way better walking into our house when it is clutter free than it did to possess all those things that simply sit around doing nothing.

    1. It’s like a domino affect, you never now how much something that seems like nothing will cost you in the long run.

  2. I think free things even add up to more clutter than you need at times. I went through this period of collecting pretty much all the free stuff I could and at the end of it, realized I had a ton of clutter and very little need for most of those items.

    1. 100% agree, as I write this I’m sitting next to two desktop towers that were “free” that I can’t get rid of because I need certain things off them but only for sentimental reasons. My brother (who works in IT) is in town though so maybe I can finally get rid of them.

  3. I gave up on “free” offers years ago. I have never heard the saying, “if it’s free it’s for me” but that’s pretty ridiculous! The phrase “nothing in life is free” is far more realistic 🙂 Mel made a great point above that so many ‘free’ things cost us mental energy in terms of clutter, and in a lot of cases, they cost us time, which is considerably more valuable to all of us.

    1. Your saying is much better for the lifestyle I want to live. “Nothing in life is free” means that even if you don’t pay for something with money you will have to pay for it in another way whether your time to move it/clean it/maintain it, and then eventually just get rid of it.

  4. Great example Tyler of the rolls royce, the kingsize bed and the pet – all would involve additional costs at some point. Like you say, some things that are offered for free are definitely worth weighing up to see what the future cost implications would be.

    I’ve never had the chance (yet) to accept anything for free that would cost massively going forwards, but I did go through a stage of accepting any free thing that came my way, thinking I was getting a great deal and feeling proud of myself for not spending to accumulate such possessions. But as Mel said, free things can really just add to your clutter – and I’ve given up a lot of my time trying to get rid of them since!

    1. I would say even the free bed wouldn’t have cost us MASSIVE money (around $300 or so which at the moment feels massive but really isn’t) the dog would have slowly sapped our money with the food, vet bills, and time I think that would have cost more than the bed.

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