Carrie and I were on our way out to look at a new set of couches for our living room.
A neighbor stopped us to chat…
What are you up to today?
We’re going to look at some couches.
Oh, what store are you going to?
The question caught me off guard. When Carrie and I talked about getting some new couches we never even talked about or considered buying new. The idea of going to a store didn’t occur to us until our neighbor asked.
So we went and looked at a set or two and they were meh. One set that was okay-ish was like $900. (Kill me now, I’ve bought cars for less!)
Then we walked into a house to look at a set that was advertised at $200.
Oh, I know you guys from church, you can have the couches for free.
What!? (I didn’t believe him at first and had to ask several times if he was sure.)
And even better, this set was nicer than the others!
Okay, Derek… You got lucky with a “church discount” what’s your point here?
My point is you have to be open to the idea of free in order for free to find you.
If we had gone straight to the furniture stores (even the discounts stores) the possibility of free happening would have been ZERO.
We weren’t even hunting around for free, it just happened. It wasn’t until I remembered that my neighbor assumed that we were going to a furniture store that this idea of being open to free fully formed in my mind.
So, you got lucky?
Sorta, not really. Lucky in the same way that a football player gets when there’s a bad throw and he intercepts it for a touch down. Is that luck? Do they take the points away because he got lucky? If he wasn’t on the field AT ALL he never would have gotten “lucky”.
When I thought back on the past several years it turns out we’ve been open to free and free has found us several times.
Here’s some of the items and how we (mostly unknowingly) put ourselves in the position for free to find us.
- We’ve been given not one but TWO cars. *Olsen-mobile pictured above. Don’t get too jelly of our 15 year old van. My Dad mentioned he was buying a new car and I asked him what he was doing with the van. He sold it to us for $1.00.
- We came across a free knife set recently (still in its packaging) at a free kids clothing exchange were we got a ton of free baby clothes, books and toys too. Carrie was there and someone asked if she wanted the knifes. They were trying to get rid of them because someone had donated 1200 knifes. Yeah, 1200!
- We’ve been given mountains of free baby clothing from friends and family too. Babies wear clothes like twice before they grow out of them, I can’t imagine why so many people are buying new baby clothes when there is so much great used stuff out there. Our new baby girl is 4 weeks and already grown out of some stuff. Why are we buying this stuff new again?? (Don’t really need to even ask for this stuff, free baby stuff just has a way of finding you!)
- Free lawn mower. I told my brother we moved to a new house and I needed to get a mower. He said he had one that he didn’t use anymore. Done.
- Free strollers. They just find their way to our basement somehow in the middle of the night.
- Free couch(different from the ones above!) Left behind by previous tenants.
- Free washer/dryer. Left behind by previous tenants.
- Free bike for The Original Baby Beebs (So far she’s not showing much interest in learning, maybe this coming summer?) Gift from neighbor who’s kids are way too old for it.
- Almost everything in our girls room was almost free. An entire room’s worth of kids stuff for $18 at a kids sale (Tempted to list all the stuff we’ve gotten used for a small fee, but this post is about F.R.E.E.)
Our neighborhood has an online group and people post free stuff multiple times a week. (We’ve given away a few things too.) Just this week there was a dishwasher, table saw, and some furniture posted… all free.
((((Places to open yourself up to free include local FB groups, neighborhood groups and forums, Craigslist (hell, they even have a free section!), apps/websites that focus on free/trade in your local area, local swaps/exchanges (I know of a kid swap here in town once a year but I’ve never been to it myself)))))
But Derek, are you guys just cheap and taking advantage of others?
You might think so. I don’t.
Some people have so much stuff they would rather give it away for free just to be rid of it. This is when being open to free can benefit you without being cheap and without taking advantage of anyone. If the person doing the giving away is okay with it, I don’t see the issue.
I don’t feel taken advantage of when I give stuff away. And we’ve given a LOT of stuff away for free. Probably as much as we’ve received. Keeping score isn’t the point.
For better or worse, we live in a time and place with so much excess stuff that perfectly usable stuff get’s tossed out and sometimes ends up in the landfill. College kids across the country fill dumpsters with perfectly good stuff at the end of each semester just so they don’t have to take it with them. Stuff is so cheap and easily acquired that it’s just as easy to dump it all and start over than it is to bring it with you. Strange world.
With a default thought pattern of always buying new, you’ll never be open to free and free will never find you.
You can live an incredibly outrageous lifestyle on the scraps of those who only buy new. It’s a financial win and it’s good for the environment too.
Buy it used or get it for free, your bank account loooooooves it.
Think free first. Then give it away for free when you are finished with it.
What about you? How have you set yourself up to be open to free?