When an opportunity comes around that makes an item free and I have use for it, I grab it. A truly free item is rare if you think about it. I love watching shows on Hulu and when I heard the company was thinking of charging for Hulu I was bummed. But I do realize I still pay for it in a small way, by paying for my internet access, which works out to pennies for the things I do (coupons, maps, tv shows, blogging), but I still do pay for it and it isn't completely free unless I was stealing my neighbors internet or using wifi at the library.

There are so many ways to get free items but most of them come with a price in some form.
BOGO items -
You can't get a free item unless you buy another of the same item at regular price. The free part is only if you were going to purchase that item anyway, otherwise it is money being paid for essentially two items.

Free Lunch -
This is commonly used at work with the boss buying lunch, but it is usually on the heels of reaching a goal or volunteering beforehand. There is the occasional 'free lunch' due to a holiday brings out the kindness in people.

Free Sample - 
Receiving free samples is considered free however what have you given to get the sample in return? In most cases you have given your email and home address, thus giving up a bit of your privacy for their advertising list. Also there is the added storage that may be necessary if sample gathering is hobby - storage takes space and to some who don't have a lot of storage that is premium space.

Drawings for Vacations and Cars - 
They have a Smart car that is being given away 'free' at the nearby mall, but in order to just enter, not win, I had to give name, address, income and select some personal interests. Again, a privacy issue but the biggest part is that wining this "free" car means big taxes when I take ownership of it.

Dumpster Finds -
I have dumpster dived a dresser and picked up a cedar chest but I didn't just bring them home and plop them down, they were sanded down and either painted or stained. That meant I had to buy paint and sandpaper and stain. It may not be a larger cost, but still, not totally free.

Free Communities - 
This are wonderful places to pick up free stuff, however there is a small cost to some of these as well. Depending on the item you are looking for and how far out of the way you may have to go to find it, that would mean you have gas to buy and if you don't have a truck to pick it up, you may have to rent one. If you need help getting the item in the truck, then there might be the cost of paying for a lunch to have one of your friends help you out.

It all depends on how you look at the "free" item, if what you give of your time, privacy, repair and gas is minute to you than the free item has value above what has been put into getting it. In my case, I'm glad I signed up for the Smart car giveaway- the chance to win one is worth the information gathered from me and the taxes inevitably will come.


  1. marci @ onlinecolleges // Friday, October 23, 2009 1:15:00 PM  

    Exactly! Everything labeled as FREE usually has a price to it, like you said, whether it's time, gas, purchase one of equal value, etc. I love online contests though - usually you enter by leaving a comment along with your email address. And email addresses are easy to either block spam email for the future or change your email address completely.

  2. Lisa // Friday, October 23, 2009 2:02:00 PM  

    I love free stuff too. One time I was a finalist to win a free car. I was pretty ticked off to find out when I go there the rules had changed among other things. I tend to stay away from things like that.

    I don't stay away from places that offer free food though. I love it when kids eat free! The only hidden cost is the cost of your food but I tend to eat with my family of four for under $17 with a tip. I found www.kidseatfor.com has some pretty good choices on restaurants. There were even a few local places I didn't even know had a kids eat free deal going on.

    That's free.

  3. Lawrence @ CRB // Saturday, October 24, 2009 5:11:00 AM  

    The hidden price that catches my attention the most is having to give my email address to a company in order to get something free. I am always worried that my inbox is going to become flooded with spam. I've solved the problem by creating a junk email account for this purpose.

  4. Innahouse // Saturday, October 24, 2009 9:53:00 AM  

    Regarding winning a car and having to pay taxes: If you're in need of a car and win it, paying the tax isn't so terrible. If you BOUGHT the car, you'd have to pay the taxes PLUS the cost of the car! I figure it's a pretty good deal......unless they change the rules, like Lisa mentioned. That would be a bummer.

  5. Dawn // Saturday, October 24, 2009 12:31:00 PM  

    I have a different email addy that I use for signing up for samples and general info that my personal/biz one as well.

    I would be p.o'd if that happened to me. I hadn't thought about the kid's eating free... I of course don't have kids, but thanks for the link as somone else may find it useful as well.

    I have to agree.. privacy and wasting my time has a high value.

    I hadn't thought of that, good perspective!

  6. SeeJaneGetRich.com // Saturday, October 24, 2009 1:43:00 PM  

    I am still in school so a lot of organizations offer free food when they have events to get us to attend. Although the food is free we are paying with what is most precious to us: study time.