Junk is Junk, Even if it’s Free


In January of this year, I hit five years with the company I work for.  As a reward for working here for that amount of time they offered me an anniversary gift.  The gift can be selected from a variety of items listed on their anniversary gift web page.

I looked though the list on the day I got my email notice that the anniversary gift was available.  I flipped through six pages of items, and my initial reaction was, “this is all a bunch of junk.”

My second reaction was, “I don’t need ANY of this stuff.”

So, I ignored it and continued on with my day.

Every couple of months since then, I get an email reminder that I still haven’t chosen my gift.

Here is the latest one:


Congratulations on your milestone anniversary!

We noticed that you have not yet selected your anniversary gift.  Your contributions are valued and we want to make sure you get to enjoy your reward.

Most of the items on the gift page are valued at under $20.  Aside from the fact that they feel 5 years of contribution is valued at $20, most of the stuff has bad reviews on Amazon.  I looked at a few items that might be interesting by finding them on Amazon to read the reviews.  Most items were under 3 stars.  The reason for most of the low ratings was; A: they didn’t work well, or, B: they broke within the first few months of use.

Had they been quality products, I might have been able to find something useful.  One example was a device that attaches to your phone to broadcast music over the radio in your car.  It would be good for me since I drive an old car that doesn’t have a way to connect my phone though the radio.  The reviews showed that it didn’t work very well.

Another was a handheld vacuum that I could use in our camper.  It would be nice to have a small vacuum to get the sand off the floor.  Even though we have a welcome mat and take our shoes off before we go inside, we still end up with sand in our camper, and it would be nice to be able to vacuum it up.  One reviewer said, “don’t bother, I couldn’t even vacuum up a dead gnat.”

Many of the items were specialized single use kitchen items.  You know, those gimmicky things that look cool on the late night infomercial, but then end up sitting in your drawer, unused for years.

Every time they send me a reminder that I haven’t picked out my anniversary gift I take another peek.  Every time I come to the same conclusion, this stuff is all junk, and even thought it’s free, I don’t need any of it cluttering up my home.

An important part of the decluttering process is to stop new clutter from coming in.  It can be hard to resist an item that is free, but you have to ask yourself: Is this item is really needed/wanted?

A good way to answer that is with another question:  Would I purchase that item on my own, or am I only considering it because it’s free?

If you are only considering it because it’s free, then you don’t need it in your home.

This goes for anything that is free: work anniversary gifts, free pens or pads of paper given out as advertising, any of the various items you might get for free at a trade show or a local carnival, hand me downs from parents or siblings, and anything else that someone wants to give you for free.

Consider your goal of a clutter free home and then politely decline the freebies.  You may get some strange looks for declining free stuff, but in the end you’ll be happier for it.

photo credit

What To Do When Your Family Won’t Declutter


You decided you have too much clutter.  You jump into cleaning out all the junk in your home, and you start to see some real improvement.  You are feeling better about your home.  You are looking forward to the freedom you’ll begin to feel in an uncluttered home.  You want to share this joy with […]


Our New Scamp Camper

Camping at Fort Desoto

I mentioned in my last post that we recently bought a small camper.  I have great memories from childhood of family vacations taken in a slide-in truck camper and later in a class C RV.  I loved the adventure of traveling and exploring new places, and that’s something I carry with me to this day. […]


Thoughts on Returning to Home Ownership


You may have noticed I haven’t been writing much lately.  I guess I haven’t been in the mood.  One of the main themes in this blog is the chronicling of my journey as my dreams changed and I assessed what direction I really wanted my life to be heading.  I want to document some of […]


Minimal Hobbies – Minimizing Camping Gear

Minimalist Hobbies - Downsizing your camping gear

I sometimes get asked about hobbies, and how can we downsize those hobbies to fit with our minimalist ideals.  Today I’m sharing one of our hobbies – camping.  Camping has a wide range of equipment that is either required or desired.  You can go as maximum as a truck full of gear or minimal as […]


The Untold Stories


Joshua at Becoming Minimalist wrote a great blog post about sharing the untold stories.  That is much of what I do here on Rethinking the Dream.  I share the stories you won’t hear from most people that are living them.  The stories of downsizing, minimalism, and decluttering.  These are not things the cool kids are […]


Why We Secretly Desire a Zombie Apocalypse


Have you wondered why zombie movies and zombie television shows are so popular lately?  Every time I finish an episode of a zombie show, I find myself reflecting on what it would be like.  Imagine a world where your everyday life is turned upside down and instead of focusing on all the mundane stuff in […]