The Real Cost of FREE Things – I hate to burst your bubble, but nothing is free. When you are given something for free and think you’re getting a great deal, you need to stop and think!
“I got a FREE car!”
“I got a FREE dog!”
“We won a free vacation!”
These all might sound like dreams to some of us, but I’m telling you this now: nothing is free.
I know, I sound like the bearer of bad news, Debbie Downer, a real Negative Nancy. But this is coming from a place of love.
I really don’t want you to get blinded by something being given to you for free and not take into consideration all of the things that come along with it.
Sure, there are a few truly free things.
- When your sister gives you her children’s hand-me-downs for your younger kids.
- A friend brings you dinner when you’re sick.
- Your church helps you move into your new house so you don’t need to hire movers.
But the reality is that almost nothing is truly free.
Whenever you get something in your life you exchange something for that. Even if you get something for free you will still need to pay for it in some way shape or form.
I know no one really wants to hear that when they are given something for free it’s not actually free, but that’s the reality of it.
This is not to take away from the excitement or the value of something when it is given to you for free. I just want you to take into consideration the long-term expenses that come along with something.
When you are given something for free you need to remember 3 things:
- What are the long-term costs that come along with this?
- What are the recurring costs that come along with this?
- Is the value of getting this for free worth the additional cost that comes along with it?
You could be getting something for free that you were going to already pay money for. In that case, this is amazing! You have already done the calculations of the long-term costs and have decided that you still want to move forward with having this freebie in your life. This is a winning situation for you.
But if you’re in a situation where you are being given something that you haven’t done any kind of calculations or thought into the long-term consequences, I want you to stop what you’re doing right now and think before you say “yes” to anything.
Recently my husband was given a “free” motorcycle. He kept telling me over and over again how excited he was that it was free and trying to get me on board with his excitement.
The reality is that it wasn’t actually “free.”
Here’s what I mean about the real cost of free.
When you’re given something, sure the initial cost is offset, but what about (in this case) the repairs, maintenance, more repairs, insurance, gas, more repairs, more maintenance… and everything else that comes along with it?
The title transfer is $80.
Repairs so far have been $100 (and that’s in less than a week… and it still isn’t running).
Once the repairs are done, we have to get it inspected for $50.
Insurance for the motorcycle is $175 annually.
Oh, and I had to increase his life insurance adding another $25/month.
And all of this is excluding the costs of gas and routine maintenance totaling about $75 every 3 months.
So let’s just do a conservative tally and say that this “free” motorcycle is now going to cost me $955 (and that’s just pretending that all of the needed repairs have been done). After this initial year, it will cost me more than $755/year to keep running, insured, and road-legal.
Let’s take another example: a free pet.
Pets are great and I love them! They are my fur babies. But if you are gifted a pet having never had any experience with them, you’re in for a world of surprise.
Let’s say you’re given a labrador puppy. They start small and will grow to be medium/ large dogs.
Bedding, crate, collar, leash, tags will cost you between $100 and $200. You will need to get a new collar and leash when the puppy gets older and needs to be trained.
Vet visits for just their routine shots will cost you $150-300 annually.
We’re also going to account for the puppy getting into some human food that they shouldn’t have eaten and then an emergency vet visit will cost $500.
Food for the little rascal will run between $30 and $60/month.
Grooming will cost $20-50 for each visit.
Boarding when you go away will run you $25-50/day.
Dog walking service if you’re gone all day will cost $20/walk.
So let’s tally up the cost of this “free” puppy: $1,350 excluding boarding and dog walking. And puppies don’t get less expensive as they get older, too. They will need dental work, medicines, maybe even surgery.
As an animal lover, I urge you to rethink ever accepting a puppy if you feel as though these costs are too much.
Another example is a “free” vacation.
You always hear radio stations giving away vacations. Let’s just pretend like you won the “free” vacation. You get to go to Key West for 5 days and they will pay for the 5-star hotel when you get there.
You still need to cover your airfare to Key West which could be anywhere from $100-500 (one way!).
The food when you get there for about $75/day per person or more!
Boarding your “free” dog for 7 nights while you’re gone for $25/day.
A rental car for $25/day.
Just assuming these expenses alone, you’re looking at an additional $1,650. While that’s still saving you more than $300/day at a 5-star hotel, it will still come along with a hefty pricetag that you need to be prepared to take on.
Always remember: nothing is ever truly free.
It’s important that you know that none of this is to be taken as being ungrateful for someone offering you something for free! I am all for finding something that someone is looking to unload for free before spending a dime out of pocket.
But it’s just as important that you take into consideration all of the expenses that will accompany this free gift. If you feel as though you can’t keep up with the additional costs, don’t get in over your head. You can politely turn down anything that is being offered to you for free. There is no obligation for you to accept something that is offered to you.
You can politely turn down anything that is being offered to you for free. There is no obligation for you to accept something that is offered to you.
What was the biggest thing that you were ever given for free? Did you regret accepting it?
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