"Why not? It's free." These two sentences can spell doom for your garage, closet and junk drawer. We all love free stuff. Even if it's something we didn't want before, we're tempted to get it if it's free. But that doesn't make it worth something.
Picture: Michael Coghlan
As minimalism blog Rethinking the Dream points out, our homes end up full of crap we don't need because we're actually pretty bad at determining whether an item is a useful addition to our lives. Even leaving out frivolous purchases, if something's free, we'll take it. Everything from pens to furniture. It doesn't matter if you already have a drawer full of USB sticks at home, if someone offers you one, chances are you'll take it. If that junk was junk before you found out it was free, it's still junk afterwards:
Ask yourself: Would I purchase that item on my own, or am I only considering it because it's free? If you are only considering it because it's free, then you don't need it in your home.
This goes for anything that is free: work anniversary gifts, free pens or pads of paper given out as advertising, any of the various items you might get for free at a trade show or a local carnival, hand me downs from parents or siblings, and anything else that someone wants to give you for free.
There are sometimes where getting something because it's free even if you don't necessarily need it can be a good idea. If you have a friend who's giving away an old gadget, you may be able to sell it. However, this requires that you have a plan for that item. If you have no idea what you'd do with it, or worse yet know you have no plans for that thing, then it's junk and you can leave it right where it is. Even if it's free.