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5 Reasons people don’t like free or discounted goods

I’ve encountered what is a most amazing phenomenon – people do not like to “buy” free stuff. I personally look for every discount that I can when making a purchase.

Free MoneyYet, I have noticed a good number of individuals who when faced with the opportunity to receive something for free or at a discount, they chose to pay for it instead.

After observing this phenomenon on a number of occasions, I decided to compile a brief list of common reasons why people like to pay more than is necessary.

Reason #1 – Fear

We all know the saying, “If it’s free, then it’s too good to be true.” Unfortunately, that is sometimes a lie.

Example: Wirefly.com offers cell phones for free with a new two year agreement with any of the major US carriers. The phone is the same. The plan is the same. In fact, the agreement is with the carrier and not Wirefly. I have shown this site to many people. And yet, they always end up going to the carrier and paying for the same phone that they could have had for free because it’s scary.

I have purchased several phones form Wirefly without a single problem. In fact, we will be “buying” some new phones in the next few months and all we have to do is agree to a two year extension on our contract. I’m not leaving Sprint in the next two years, so why not?

Reason #2 – Pride

It’s one of the seven deadly sins.

And it will kill your finances if you are not careful. I have a friend who as a matter of pride will not use coupons, take advantage of discounts, or buy anything that is not full price. He is afraid that the vendor will think he is incapable of paying the full price.

My grandmother believed it was a matter of social status. She wanted to be able to tell others just how much she overpaid for the item.

Fortunately for both of these individuals, they have the financial means to always pay full price. But why not save some money to spend on something else (or leave in savings)?

Reason #3 – Laziness

Some people are just plain lazy.

The next time you are about to check-out online, try searching for the name of the retailer with the phrase “promo code.” You will be amazed how many discounts you can find online.

For example, I purchased a bunch of domains last year from GoDaddy.com. Instead of paying full price for each domain, I saved myself about $30 with the promo code I found online.

Or the next time you are in a retail store front, just ask for a discount. Sometimes they will say yes and sometimes they will say no. But at least try asking, you might find yourself surprised.

Reason #4 – Strings Attached

In all fairness, there are times that Free comes at a price. Even though the item may be free, some other obligation places a contingency on the item or service. While thinking about this reason, I became curious about what phrases Googlers use when searching for free stuff. Here’s a screen grab of what Google suggests if you type in “free stuff online.”

Google Search Results

As you can see, most people searching for something free know that something is usually attached to the offer. Though life is full of trade-offs. You have to decide if the trade-off is worth it.

Reason #5 – Convenience

There are times that paying is just worth it.  For example, I can wash my car. I’ve worked as a lot boy at a car dealership and have washed a lot of cars. But my time is worth more these days. I’m happy to pay the guys at the car wash down the street to wash and dry my car in 10 minutes.

Conclusion

Many of us are trying to be frugal, but for some reason, do not take advantage of free goods. If you really want to spend less money, then take a little time to research and take advantage of authentically free goods and services.


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  • I’ve never understood the concept of wanting to pay full price “just to say you could.” I would prefer to save money about it and then tell people how they can do the same thing. That just gives you more money for other, often more important, things. ;)
    .-= Patrick´s last blog ..You Need a Budget 3 Personal Finance Software Program =-.

    • Could not agree more. Thanks for the comment.

  • I’ve never understood the concept of wanting to pay full price “just to say you could.” I would prefer to save money about it and then tell people how they can do the same thing. That just gives you more money for other, often more important, things. ;)
    .-= Patrick´s last blog ..You Need a Budget 3 Personal Finance Software Program =-.

    • Could not agree more. Thanks for the comment.

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  • I use to be the guy that would pass on picking up a dime if I saw it on the ground… Those days are now over for me :)

    Personally, I love buying new tech equipment that is low priced or free! Sometime you can even resell them at a later date on ebay or whatever.

    Rebates are great if you have follow through to send them :)

  • I use to be the guy that would pass on picking up a dime if I saw it on the ground… Those days are now over for me :)

    Personally, I love buying new tech equipment that is low priced or free! Sometime you can even resell them at a later date on ebay or whatever.

    Rebates are great if you have follow through to send them :)

  • I am always amazed at how bad most consumers are with their cash. A few months ago I was standing in front of the eggs at Wal-Mart. There were 18 eggs for 2.13 and a dozen for 0.94. I was there an hour waiting and I noticed about half of the people bought the 18 carton. Some people with calculators bought 3-18 cartons. I will never understand not wanting to get the best price possible.
    .-= Daddy Paul´s last blog ..The case against target retirement funds =-.

  • I am always amazed at how bad most consumers are with their cash. A few months ago I was standing in front of the eggs at Wal-Mart. There were 18 eggs for 2.13 and a dozen for 0.94. I was there an hour waiting and I noticed about half of the people bought the 18 carton. Some people with calculators bought 3-18 cartons. I will never understand not wanting to get the best price possible.
    .-= Daddy Paul´s last blog ..The case against target retirement funds =-.

  • Gotta love your post. I'll try to find other free stuff online. Thanks for the info Adam

  • Free items are good, sometimes, I tend to be very cautious because I always instill the reality to my mind that business is business. And there are times too that getting free items takes away my precious time, which I can use it to be more productive. So it's a matter of choice, for me. If I've got the chance to get a free item in the mall and I'm on shopping, I'll surely grab for it. ;)

  • You raise a very good point. Even though an item may be free, the time invested to get the free item isn't always worth the effort. One of my favorite lessons from economics is that price helps determine efficient allocation of resources.

  • Maybe they are really rich they could afford to pay full price. But for most of us, especially during hard times, taking advantage of the free stuff is not a bad idea. You can spare money of more important things, college tuition for example.

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