Free Samples

Awhile back I requested some free samples, something I almost NEVER do.  I don’t even remember what all I requested.  I got my free candy bar coupon…that was cool and is tucked in my purse for a treat while shopping.  I got some baby wipes that I tucked into the stroller for our library hour outings.  And this week I got a little box of Fiber One samples.  I love Fiber One bars so that was cool. And I will use at least half the coupons on things that I would buy anyway.

So what, right?  You don’t really care what I got for free do you?

Here’s the thing.  I like the little high of getting something for nothing.  And real mail is one of my absolute favorite things.  But I always have some mixed feelings about these little packages.

One qualm is the packaging.  It really is a waste.  I am not uber-green by any means, but I do try to cut out waste where I can.  I also cook from scratch so much that I really don’t buy much of anything on a regular basis that is prepackaged, so this packaging stands out more I think.

But really I think my hesitation comes from the attitude behind these free samples.  They are, after all, advertising for that company.  If I get the samples as a means to save money…what if I like this new name-brand prepackaged little treasure?  Then do I feel a little deprived when I can’t fit the regular version into my budget? Don’t I deserve to have what I like?

Many of us frugal folks have little ways we save a little.  Yes, it all adds up.  But I think some of these tiny money savers are just a good way to keep our attitude in the right place.  Evaluating what is important to us when we make those budgets, then sticking to it is the foundation of responsible, often frugal, living.

Opening the door to little free delights can have the opposite effect.  It freely offers to sway our decision making.  Can’t that make it harder to stick to the plan?  Aren’t we inviting these companies to tell us that what we have is not quite good enough…but lucky you!  Here’s something better!  It’s just what you’ve been missing!

Also, feeling the need to pick up all free things we are offered can lead to a feeling of desperation.  If we think we need these things to make it, do we start to think that we aren’t doing an adequate job of taking care of ourselves?  Can we “go without” as easily?  I have learned many wonderful lessons by going without something, or prolonging a purchase.

I think there are some legitimate reasons to get free samples out there.  If it’s time to make a purchase and you can check out a free sample first, great.  If it is a coupon for something you already use, great.   An occasional free sample is not a big deal…everything in moderation, right?

And that is probably really my point in this: everything in moderation!  Free samples often scream MORE!  On many levels.  Be careful what you let into your head…these are advertisements after all.

And me?  I’ll be curious to see if any thing else pops up in my mailbox.  I know I did all this free sample requesting on one night.  I just don’t know if I have anything else coming.  But if another opportunity for a free candy bar comes along?  I’ll take it!

So now you tell me – am I way off base?  Do you get dozens of free samples and never want some brand you can’t really afford?  Do you ever get free samples?  What are your favorite type?

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Filed under Attitude, Doing Without

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