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Friday, May 1, 2009

Free is not Frugal

No, that is not a typo. You are not hallucinating. Free is not frugal. OR not necessarily frugal.

About a year ago, I began to discover the wealth of frugal tips on the internet. Neat-o. Even though I did not, do not, and will never subscribe to the Grocery Game (a business that tells you how to combine coupons with store specials for "rock bottom" prices) or any of its free counterparts, I started perusing the Message Boards. Lots of "Hot Tips" abounded on various freebies. Tipsters and tippees recounted hitting the road in search of the goodies.

From these Boards, I also learned that you could send for free samples of this and that: oatmeal! aspirin! shampoo!

Add to that the fact that I already had figured out that you could get more than a lifetime supply of free shampoo and make-up and the like from CVS and Walgreens. So I did.

After a while, I noticed that the samples of oatmeal and aspirin were overpackaged. All that wrapping, not to mention shipping, not to mention human labor to send me 2 little aspirin.

Then I noticed that I had a plastic bin full of shampoo, body wash, soap, conditioner, toothpaste. Some of the Grocery Game ladies, exulting in their savings, sent in pictures of their stockpiles and claimed that they and their teenagers went through 5 bottles of shampoo a month. But my family goes through this stuff pretty slowly.

It occurred to me that free stuff encourages over-consumption. And I realized that the free stuff wasn't all that free in the largest sense. Driving around town to "score" a bunch of free shampoo takes time, not to mention gas.

So, Dear Readers, I went cold turkey. Even though CVS and Walgreens are offering free toothpaste yet again, I will not avail myself of it. And I no longer check out the sites that enumerate the "free" samples that are yours to request.

What think you of the concept "free is not frugal?" It's so hard to resist all the freebies out there; but I'm trying to stay strong. Wish me luck.


FB @ said...

Couldn't have said it better.

I refuse free anything, especially samples, unless I know I can use it.

Or, I message other bloggers/people and ask if they'd like the items and have a use for them instead.

Mrs. Jane Doe said...

I agree. I have read a few of those blogs with their finds. It is a very clever ploy to get the consumer in the store. They know that in the minds of the shopper, they are thinking that they are getting such a great deal on this, that or the other that they also will purchase different items while they are in there justifying the extra purchase.

Good for you for saying no! :O)

Funny about Money said...

Yeah, similar thoughts have crossed my mind. First, a lot of "free" stuff is stuff I don't especially want. Second, the minipackaging is wasteful, especially since 99.999% of it is plastic. Third, I hate having that stuff mailed to me or dropped on my driveway with the newspaper or stuffed in the mailbox: junk stuff, like junk mail.

Off topic, Frugal: D'you happen to know a couple named Mooney at Louisiana? I believe he teaches Renaissance lit there. Just dawned on me that we may have a sixth level of acquaintance.

Frugal Scholar said...

@FB--Ooohhh--what do you have? Just kidding (I hope). Thanks.
@Mrs JD--So true. Love your blog, by the way.
@Funny--I don't know these people, but I'll bet we are within a degree or two.

Suzy said...

I haven't done the Walgreens/CVS thing - just can't quite figure it out! But I've sent for free samples of cereal, shampoo..even Prilosec that I gave to a coworker! But I told her just the other day that all that packaging and postage was a waste..for less cost and waste they could just email a coupon for a free bottle(the shampoo) or offer trial sizes in the stores and give a coupon for that free.

I enjoy reading blogs about people getting all their freebies - sorta builds the excitement for me! I've started using coupons but have to make sure they're something I already use or would like to try - NOT using 6 granola bar coupons at a time! That was a waste because coupled with my lack of willpower they cost money and calories and a box is gone in no time...