Clear clutter

The cost of free stuff – the Minimalist Game days 15 – 21

My decluttering has really ramped up over the last week. I am still amazed by the amount of junk I have stashed away. While my house doesn’t look much different, the kitchen especially is a lot easier to use.

Minimalist game, decluttering, #minsgame

Minimalist Game Days 15 – 21

Freedom from the freebies

As I decluttered over the last three weeks, I’ve been struck by the amount of stuff in the house I acquired for free. It is now clear to me that all this free stuff has a cost.

I have come across various categories of free stuff in my cupboards and drawers:

  • giveaways and promotional freebies (eg. coffee mugs emblazoned a with logo, stickers, pins and bags)
  • stuff that was included with other stuff I bought (eg. A measuring cup and spoon that came with a rice cooker and a potato spiral maker)
  • stuff that has been passed on to me by someone else (eg. half my kitchen items and most of my craft things)
  • gifts (I think gifts will get a whole post of its own!).

I am fortunate, as a lot of what I consider to be essential items have been given to me and saved me a lot of money. Then there are the non-essential but potentially useful items.

My (former) slow cooker was one of those. I thought it would be really useful and I gave it a premium spot in my kitchen cupboard. However, I got it out more times to get to the special-occasions-only glass jug behind it than to cook with. Turns out I’m just not a slow cooker.

The lure of free

Then there are the more random things (coffee art stencils), the just plain useless things (bobble heads) and the things that would be useful if you didn’t already have 100 of them (promotional reusable shopping bags).

This got me thinking – what is it about free stuff? Why do I feel compelled to bring it into my home?

It is like we are hardwired to want free stuff – just because it’s free, no matter what it is. If there is something free on offer and I miss out on it, I feel disappointed and annoyed. Free stuff evokes a weird mix of feelings – both entitlement and gratitude.

I have a large pile of packaging sitting around. I had been saving it to redeem points on the products to get free stuff. I might get two or three free children’s books a year from doing this. I would never buy these books, as we have plenty of much better children’s books and use the local library heavily. Plus, the free books aren’t great quality so my son tears them easily. But no! I have been wasting time on redeeming points because it’s free stuff and I don’t want to miss out! Well, no more. If I wouldn’t buy it why accept it for free?

Not taking it

That is the lesson I learnt this week – it’s the stuff that I don’t buy that contributes most to my clutter. If I’m going to stop the clutter creep, it’s not just my spending I have to watch, it’s my accepting of free stuff. I need to get more discerning and practice saying thanks but no thanks.

Do you find it hard to resist a free offer? What is the stupidest freebie accepted recently?

No Comments

  • Fran
    June 25, 2015 at 5:26 am

    I love it ‘Not taking it’!

    Once I collected some coupons to get a wiggles backpack for kids (about 8 years ago). Then I sent it to a friend in the UK and she had moved so it came back. I only recently decluttered it – unused!!!

    It is a good point you make, I just noticed we have to big bike pumps, one was a freebie when I bought a bike. I should have said no not taking it… I have to declutter it. At least it is can be donated.

  • eemusings
    July 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    My awesome bargain hunter mum is always offering me stuff – and sometimes it’s hard to say no! 99% of the time it’s helpful though.

  • Angela
    June 4, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    My worst freebies are from the table at my embroidery club. Actually, it’s not even really free as they asked for a donation to funds but I’ve picked up books and fabric and other stuff, I’d never buy. I wasn’t the only one, people with so much stuff at home they haven’t even looked at it in 20 or 30 years were picking up stuff as I was. Ooh, I can use this for this project or worse, I’ll add that to my stash! I stopped even going to the table but it was a real pull, like resisting a magnet. I still have some of that stuff or I’ve given loads of it away. What a waste of time and effort and space on my house. Thank you for this article.


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