Free stuff is everywhere. I’m offered a free flat screen TV if I purchase living room furniture, I’m given free cosmetics if I buy $50 bucks worth of lipstick, and the local grocery store wants to feed me a free turkey with a $250 purchase. Sounds ideal really. There’s nothing like watching TV while eating turkey with freshly glossed lips. Smack. Yum. Burp.

For many of us, free stuff is the ultimate money hack. What’s more deliciously satisfying than buying “something” only to get another “thing” for free? Who doesn’t like squawking to a flock of feathered friends about “the deal” you just plucked by spending a few bills?

I think free stuff is for the birds. I don’t mean to ruffle your feathers but have you taken a gander at how the cost of free stuff pecks at your wallet? I think marketers are brilliant at goosing us into buying the golden egg and getting something fowl for free. I wonder, if so much is being given away for free, then why is everything so expensive?


Here are five reasons why the “free stuff” money hack is a quack:

1. Incentive to Spend More:

Marketers and retailers want you to put all your eggs into one basket and spend more on a single purchase. By setting the “free gift” purchase price at a profit for themselves, they can then offer you freebies for meeting their sales targets. Did you really need to spend a whopping $250 to get a little meaty freebie? Is your additional grocery expense worth a bit of birdie? Personally, I think freebies are a plucky way to part you from your cash. Be careful when clucking for “free gifts” cause you might just spend extra bucks for a bird.

2. Freebie Bundled Into Price:

Retailers want you to believe your “free gift with purchase” is without cash commitment. I call fowl. Many marketing mavericks use the “bundling” tactic to bury the freebie cost with the price of the consumer product. You may think you’re getting a free lunch, but you’re really paying for that turkey dinner with all the fixings. Consider the commonplace “FREE phone with purchase of two-year contact”, or “FREE flat screen TV with purchase of sofa and love seat”. Do you really think retailers are giving you these products for free? After paying for the inflated product price, you’re paying the full price of receiving that free gift. Feeling cooked and basted yet?

3. Free Gifts Lack Quality:

How long did your last fast freebie last? Did that free television stand the test of time? Did that turkey taste wholesome and delicious or more like mechanically separated meat? I don’t know about your free gifts but most free gifts I see are crap. They last about as long as the car ride to take them home. The goal of the free gift is not to be useful beyond time, but rather to get you to buy into a bigger initial purchase. Since the freebie fulfills it’s usefulness at the till, it’s not built to last. Free gifts are meant to be consumed quickly and fiercely. They are disposable and fill our landfills. Honestly, freebie crap makes me want to fly the coop.

4. Suspect Products with Gifts Attached:

There is a motivation for pushing a product with a free gift. Marketers and retailers have several reasons for needing to tactically move certain products from their shelves. Perhaps they ordered too much of something, perhaps it’s obsolete, perhaps no one wants it, or perhaps it’s just inferior quality crap. For whatever reason, retailers love “free gifts” to get you to buy into the requisite removal. Stop the “free gift” feeding frenzy by leaving the suet on the shelves.

5. Stuffed Full of Free Stuff Yet?

Do you really need more stuff? Does it matter if it’s free or not? There’s a cost to bringing more crap home – it makes your house a barnyard mess. I see so many women cluttered with free cosmetics, too many men pricked with free knives from China, and so many families using free TVs as paper weights. When will we stop running around like chickens with our heads cut off and figure out we’re cooked with “free gift” crap? I’m a little raw when it comes to crap clutter. I do tend to get into a flutter and feel tender about it. But I’ll stick my neck out again and call us all bird brains for buying it.

Am I talking turkey or is the “free gift” money hack just quack? Do you feel plucky when you find a freebie or are you roasted and basted? Is free stuff for the birds?