The Kohls near us routinely sends out $10 gift cards. Unlike other stores where you have to buy a certain amount to get the free money, this is $10 with no strings attached. You can walk in and walk out with a $7 tank top by just giving them the mailer card. In the past I have used the cards to get shorts, a skirt, and tank tops for nothing (or pocket change). This weekend I had another $10 card so we walked over to Kohls after eating yogurt <aside> if you are in Kyle, check out Chill Out frozen yogurt; really nice owners and good yogurt</aside>. I looked around and couldn't find anything that wasn't cheaply made and/or manufactured overseas. My husband also looked, but when he wasn't thrilled with anything we both decided that there was no point in getting something we didn't absolutely love.
It can be a challenge to pass up free stuff. It doesn't seem like that long ago when buying a new pair of shorts or a new shirt was a big deal to me. It was special because I had limited funds so I carefully picked out what I most liked in the price range I could afford. Back in high school or when I was in college the first go round, free stuff was like found money.
Even with a stable income, it is still hard to pass up free or almost free stuff when it is new and looks nice. I make sure to ask myself:
- Do I absolutely love it? If not, why bother?
- Am I willing to pay to house this item? The less stuff you have the smaller the space you can live in.
- Is it an item that will either last a long time and/or an item that will be desirable to someone else used? For example, solid wood furniture will last a long time and will be much easier to find a new home for if you no longer need it than cheap particle board furniture. These days cheap clothes are no longer in demand. Most thrift outlets and charities have more clothing than they know what to do with. Check out this article or Google "disposable fashion" for statistics and analysis: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fashion/2012/06/the_salvation_army_and_goodwill_inside_the_places_your_clothes_go_when_you_donate_them_.html
- What am I supporting by taking this item? By accepting a "free gift" that was produced under poor conditions and shipped around the world, you are letting the giver know you are okay with that. This obviously applies more to promotional items where the giver will just continue to order more of the same item than it does to accepting your friends or neighbors used clothes/housewares. And it certainly never should apply to actual presents given to you!