Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is the Definition of Free?

My husband got a letter from a ministry that we like. The letter was an update on what's happening in the ministry and an offer for a free book. Dan had heard of the book and wanted it, so I filled out the form and put it in the envelope provided. I noticed that the envelope needed a stamp.
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Now, it was no longer a free book. It was a $0.44 book. With the internet so large, whatever information was in this book could probably be found on the internet for free. Was this book worth $0.44 to us?
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So I asked. My husband said that indeed, it was worth $0.44 to him, so I stamped the envelope and the book will arrive in four to six weeks.
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The point is not that the ministry should pay for the stamp. They are paying for the shipping, and the book. It's a pretty good deal.
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The point is not that a book isn't worth $0.44. My husband paid $35 for one of the books for his Hebrew class this semester.
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The point is that it is not a free book anymore. It goes from the "free perks - because we're so clever" category in our budget to an actual expense in the nonexistent "entertainment" category of our budget.
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So, this is the question that we should ask ourselves when we see such a "free" offer: If I saw this book at a yard sale for $0.44, would I pick it up? With this book, I would. The next question: Would I hide this book until Christmas, or want to surprise my husband with a gift when he gets home from work? Since it is now an expense, I can justify hiding it, but he gets the mail, so that may not be practical... and he knows it's coming.
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What would you do?

6 comments:

Caroline said...

Good point. I was thinking of this the other day with a mail-in rebate I'm getting. It's no longer $20, it's really $19.56. It's worth it for sure, but there are definitely some things that are not.

I figure you can't hide the book and wait 'til Christmas if your husband knows it's coming, but perhaps you can agree that's an early gift. My husband and I have started doing one large gift each year(a mattress this year to replace our old one that was literally causing our backs to ache) and that's our birthdays, Christmas and anniversary for us. The most important thing is it's something we both want, we bargain shop, pay cash for it and then we really stick to our guns and don't buy gifts for those occasions when they come. We say, "Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday/Happy Anniversary, I got you a mattress!" :)

Rachel said...

I have a birthday coming us, and my husband kept asking "where do you want to go eat?' I thought of Olive Garden, the commercials for never ending pasta bowl was really appealing. But the more I thought about it, I would really like for him to grill me a steak. I was in Winn Dixie buying meat on Saturday, and I came across 4 steaks in a pack for $8.87. Enough for the three of us (very hungry 16 year old). Now we do not eat steak more than a few times a year, so this is a treat, even though we will be home, and I will do some of the work, baking potatoes, making a salad. But I just can't see paying $50.00 for the same meal in a restaurant. And yes, given your financial situation I would say the book would make a great Christmas gift, he's just getting it a little eary.

Anonymous said...

Good point Emily! No expense is too small to consider when we are living "small". Debbie

Organizing Mommy said...

I would say that because it is a ministry, I would hope that you could support it by adding your $.44 to the cause. But the argument was that it isn't free anymore? Nothing is freely produced, I guess. Those kind of things don't bother me personally, but for some people it would be considered "false advertising". Hhmmm...

Hopewell said...

I always consider that with any rebate that must be mailed. Paying $0.44 to get $0.66 [out of a $1 rebate] is kind of silly, but it's still $0.22 ahead.

Henny said...

a book you want for less than two quarters? yeah, I think it's a good deal. that's not exactly signing your fortunes away lol

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