Junk Doesn’t Become Worth Something Just Because It’s Free

Junk Doesn’t Become Worth Something Just Because It’s Free

“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.

Junk is Junk, Even If It’s Free [Rethinking the Dream via Rockstar Finance]


  • Hah! Jokes on those guys, I’ve saved plenty on free corporate-branded sleeping/gym shirts!
    And a jar of free pens is only enhanced by the addition of fifty additional pens. It’s like an extra fifty games in the lottery! (With just as much chance of a winning ticket/working pen.)

  • Free pen/paper is always handy… well if you actually write and don’t use a PC/tablet all the time. Same with shirts (as Transientmind mentioned) – who cares if it’s slathered in logos for whatever, you can still use it when mowing the yard or working in the garage 🙂

    Old gadgets… yeah I’ve learned not to accept them anymore. Got an old laptop and a couple old PCs and printers from family and friends thinking I’d fiddle with them and see if I could come up with something useful. After about 8 years I took the PCs to the dump without ever firing them up >_

  • That’s not junk! Every single bit of it is something that could be useful any time in the next few decades. Possibly.

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