Seems like everywhere you turn these days there are opportunities to get items for free. At first glance, this seems like a great deal. What’s better than free, right? Unfortunately, what seems like a bargain in the moment often ends up costing us, even if we haven’t had to shell out any money. How can that be?
The reality is that everything we own, owns a piece of us. Every belonging that ends up in our home or office
…takes up space, and
…needs to be stored, maintained, cleaned, etc.
Think about a drawer. How much of the contents are supplies you need and regularly use as opposed to random items that have been shoved inside? Do you ever wonder, “Where did all this stuff come from?”
In many cases, we own items that we never bought or intentionally acquired. Nonetheless, once a piece is in our possession, it is our job to figure out what to do with it.
Some common “free offenders” are:
- Phone books
- Hangars/pins/collar stays from the dry cleaner
- “Free Gifts” from the makeup counter
- Toiletries bags from international flights
- Children’s clothing “handed down” by a friend or family member
- Company promotional items
- Inherited clothing/furniture/décor
- Party/wedding favors
- “Happy Meal” toys
- Promotional materials
- “Freebie” food items
- Greeting cards
- Address or gift labels
- Cups/mugs/sports bottles from events or activities
As with all possessions, it is important to be active in getting rid of things we do not love and/or do not use. Many of us feel guilty getting rid of things that were “such a great deal” or “didn’t cost anything.” Likewise, we are reluctant to let go of belongings that were given to us by a friend or relative for fear of hurting his or her feelings.
However, the reality is that guilt is not a good reason to keep something in your space. In fact, guilt is a negative emotion. If we keep an item out of guilt, we unconsciously cultivate a negative association with the giver, which is probably the opposite of what was intended. No friend, relative or business wants you to feel frustrated when you look at something that they gave you.
Of course, the best way to minimize the “free” clutter is to block it from entering your space in the first place. For instance:
- Stop at the recycle bin on the way back from the mailbox and drop in any paperwork, magazines or flyers you don’t want.
- Trash or leave behind anything you don’t want before returning home from a conference.
- Resist the temptation to buy something simply to get another item (or shipping) for free.
- Avoid picking up promotional items (e.g. at a seminar or event) simply because they are available. Instead, choose only those pieces for which you can envision meeting a tangible need.
- Politely decline pieces proffered by friends and family that you don’t actually want.
Getting a bargain is a wonderful thing, but only if it meets your needs and desires. Otherwise, what appeared to be free will cost you time, space and serenity.
* * * * *
What “freebies” are cluttering your space?