Especially now that consumer shopping season is in full swing, we’re being bombarded every day in our inbox, on tv and even as we walk down the street with messages about “free gifts with purchase” and “free upgrades.” It got us thinking of the old phrase, “Nothing in life is ever free.” But then we realized that some things in life are free. They’re just not usually attached to a consumer purchase. Let’s think about what’s not free … and then let’s make a list of what is!

Nothing is Ever Free If It Came With Something You Paid For

This is the first thing that you need to understand. If you paid for anything in order to get your “free” item, then it was never, ever free. The cost of free items is always worked into the dollar amount that you need to spend to get the free item. For example, if you need to spend $50 on a website to get “free” shipping, then what that tells you is that the items on the website are marked up so much that as soon as you hit $50 you have paid for the actual cost of the goods plus your shipping charges (and, typically, at least one cent of profit). So you never really got anything for “free” – you simply earned the company slightly less profit. And you may not have even done that depending on their pricing model!

It is true that sometimes freebies known as “loss leaders” do exist. This, you might remember, was essentially the entire business model of Groupon. The idea was that vendors and merchants would give away a “free” item as a way to get you to try out their business, product or service. It’s true that if you did what most Groupon members do and take the freebie and never go back, that business lost money (that’s why Groupon hasn’t necessarily been successful in the long term). But for smart businesses, that freebie is a way to get more money out of you. Either they are good at convincing you that you want a service or product upgrade, or they leverage the contact information that they got from you when you took the freebie to market other products and services to you. Typically, your freebie turns into more money spent rather than just a pure free gift.

So What is Free?

But there are many things in life that are free! We decided to make a partial list!

True thrills are free.

Natural beauty is free.

Libraries are free (you can go in and read even without a card!).

Walks in the park are free.

The feel of sunshine, rain or snow on your skin is free.

Facebook is free – just use it with moderation!

Conversation is free.

Flirting is free (just be tasteful!).

Quiet contemplation is free.

Yoga, running, physical exercise of any kind – they’re all free.

It’s possible that in your city or town there are dozens of local events such as concerts and classes that you can do for free. You just need to research what and where they are!

If you take out the fact that, for most of us, it involves paying for an internet service, there’s a ton of free information and entertainment on the web.

Listening to music on the radio is free (if you take out the cost of the radio and the electricity).

Of course, there are a variety of other things in life that are “free” but you’d have to absorb the cost of some startup expenses, like gardening, knitting and other crafts and hobbies.

The point is the same though, there are plenty of things out there that don’t cost a dime that will fill you up more than “stuff” ever could.

Take some time today to make your own list of what’s free in your life that you can take more advantage of!

Did we miss something amazing and free? Share it with us. Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Photo Credit: duncan c via flickr