Be open to free and free will be open to you.

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?

Uh, Craigslist.

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?


18 Responses to "Be open to free and free will be open to you."

  1. Patricia   February 8, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I just love all the topics you come up with. And, your wife and babies are adorable ; )

    • Derek   February 8, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      I’m a very, very lucky guy.

      And, you made my day with this comment about the topics.

      It’s funny that the best articles come from just reporting my thoughts on our everyday life. When I try to get too fancy with the articles that’s when it all falls apart!!! 😉

      Glad you enjoyed it.
      I’ll try to include more pics of the girls in the future. haha

  2. Richard Olsen   February 8, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Very nice van! Just like Air Force One!

    • Derek   February 9, 2017 at 9:11 am

      haha, I forgot that’s what we called it! Air Force One!

  3. Steven Goodwin   February 9, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I love free! I’m always on the lookout for something that I can use or someone I know! When you discover the power of free, you will definitely change your mindset and not worry about the stores nearly as much!

    When we moved from our apartment to our house, we were able to completely furnish it without buying anything, we used almost all hand me downs. The one thing we did buy was new couches, even though we didn’t need to. We did buy them from a store, but it was an overstock and I think we saved 50% off of retail everywhere else. However, everything else in our house has been free or next to free as well! This is a great idea to share with others!

    • Derek   February 9, 2017 at 9:14 am


      It’s mostly a mindset thing.

      If you think “store first” it will cost you.
      If you think “free first or “used first” it will save you.

      Thanks for sharing Steve!!

  4. Mrs. BITA   February 15, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Free is the best, and not just from a financial viewpoint, but also from an environmental stuff. I feel so holy when I get something that was pre-owned. Buy Nothing groups are a great resource. They are hyper local and work really well, especially for kid stuff.

  5. Josh   February 16, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    We usually try to see if family has something first that we can borrow or buy, then Craigslist, then buying something for sale online. We saved thousands of dollars this way when we built our house last year. We might upgrade a few things in the coming years once we payoff the mortgage, but, until then the stuff is almost brand new for us without the retail price tage.

    • Derek   February 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Fantastic, thanks for sharing!

  6. MrDoublingDollars   February 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    It’s amazing what a change in mindset can bring. Most people don’t see the deals because they aren’t looking – but the deals can be found anywhere! Just have to open your mind and then your eyes.

    We get tons of free kids stuff too, the wife is always looking.

  7. geckovision   February 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    When our son was born I had to do an emergency trip to babies r us for sleep sacks. A lady (not an employee) came up to me and helped me through her experience with the different types. After picking out a couple i thanked her and we parted. 5 mins later she found me looking at newborn onesies. Said if I wanted to stop by her house she would give me a bunch of closes she didn’t need anymore.

    After deciding if I was going to be abducted or not my wife said why not check it out. so I went to the address….It was a gated community and got 5 or so large bags of newborn – 24 months cloths.

    We determined it was well over $1000 worth had it been new and as any parent can tell you most kids clothes at that age are barely used.

    • Derek   February 28, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Wow. That is a pretty amazing story.

      Just goes to prove that some (most?) people have so much stuff they would rather randomly give it away to a stranger than keep it or sell it.

      We gave away a crib we didn’t need to a random person on Craigslist. I even delivered it to their house because their car wasn’t big enough!

      And yes again…. babies wear clothes like three times before they out grow them. Why are we all buying new???!!!

      • geckovision   February 28, 2017 at 7:59 pm

        goodwill and once upon a child are our favorite stops for kids clothes

  8. Nicole   March 2, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I think I’ve been able to get a few things for free just by being in the right place at the right time. I consider that lucky but I’m also talking about maybe an extra side dish with my entree when ordering takeout (Haha) ….nothing like the great items your family have been able to score.

    Yay for the environment! $1 is a sweet deal for a van, or almost any automobile for that matter. The way you likened those freebies to football is totally on point: gotta be on the field in the first place to be in a position to get “lucky”. Luv it!

  9. Derek   March 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    UPDATE: You could make a full time living just re-selling all the free stuff that’s given away in my neighborhood alone! Every week there are multiple high-dollar items given away. It’s crazy!

  10. Full Time Finance   March 21, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Almost all of our furniture was essentially free. When my wifes grandmom passed away my inlaws inherited all that furniture. Much of our house is populated with Grandmom’s leftovers. My wifes sister and brother in law were just not interested in the hand me downs, so us raising our hands is all it took.

    • Derek   March 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Perfect example. Unfortunate circumstances, but none the less…

  11. The Vigilante   March 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Admittedly, Mrs. Vigilante and I have bought almost all of our current furniture either used (craigslist, yard sales) or on discount from major retailers (often as “damaged” floor models during big holiday sales). We even purchased one particular piece at FULL RETAIL (gasp!) because it was part of a complex exchange in which this particular retailer took over a deal we had with a different retailer who disappointed us by repeatedly delaying a couple pieces. (The old retailer gave us a discount for inconvenience because they broke the contract and wanted us to stay; the new retailer agreed to give us even more of a discount as long as we bought this other piece we were interested in buying, and in the end we paid under $100 extra on our original order to have something retails for around $900.)

    Anyway, I say all that to say I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, and I sometimes miss the days when I lived on furniture I found on the side of the road, from friends, and free websites!


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