Updated on 07.31.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Freebies Edition

Trent Hamm

One interesting element of having a fairly popular blog is the amount of free stuff people want to send you for the purpose of convincing you to review it. I get multiple emails each day with people wanting to send me promotional materials (t-shirts, etc.), books for review, DVDs for review, some truly bizarre things (like children’s toys and blow-up dolls), and other offers (that more or less amount to bribery). Virtually every blogger that builds a reasonably large audience gets similar offers – and I understand why. If a popular blogger mentions something, it reaches a pretty wide audience and comes from a trusted source.

My philosophy on these freebies is pretty simple. I tell them flat-out that I’m not going to review their product unless that product actually turns out to be interesting in some way or another. If they want to take that gamble, they can go right ahead and send it.

What I’ve found is that this response filters out most of the nonsense. The few things that I do get sent – mostly personal finance books and, on occasion, some purely promotional stuff – is either stuff that clearly isn’t going to get mentioned (like a logo t-shirt) or it’s actually worthwhile, like a personal finance book from a reputable publisher.

The only problem is that this free stuff piles up. So what I’ve started doing is taking a box with me when I go to speaking engagements, filled with these freebies after I’ve read them. I then give them away to anyone who asks a question, since, if people are listening to me talk, they must be at least somewhat interested in the topic.

Several people asked how I deal with such things. That’s my policy, in a nutshell.

Did Your Parents Give You a Whole Life Insurance Policy? Here’s What To Do With It. My wife has such a policy, and we’ve long debated about what to do with it. This is some real food for thought. (@ wisebread)

About Closing Credit Card Accounts and Your FICO Score Just because you finally pay off your credit card doesn’t mean you should close the account. Doing that can actually have a negative impact on your credit score. (@ money under thirty)

The Psychology of Automation This is a pretty worthwhile book excerpt. I strongly agree with the central idea here – automate your savings and it’s a lot easier to save. (@ tim ferriss)

Want To Stand Out At Work? Get The Small Stuff Right I agree wholeheartedly. Get the small stuff right consistently and you’ll be fine, even if the big things don’t turn out perfectly. (@ dumb little man)

How to Save $100 (or More) at the Grocery Store This Month There’s some excellent advice here on grocery shopping. The store circular, meal plan, and shopping list are key. (@ get rich slowly)

Are You Emotionally Invested in Your Credit Card? This is a really interesting perspective on credit card use that I hadn’t considered. (@ bible money matters)

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  1. thanks for the link! I’ve started getting a lot of the free stuff as well, and it is starting to pile up. I’ve got about 4 PF books i haven’t read yet, several assorted products and it keeps coming! I think I’ll have to adopt your policy on this – send it, but don’t expect it to be reviewed unless I like it or it’s interesting!

  2. haha…blow up dolls!? lol.

    Those other links you posted are quite useful also.

  3. Frugal Dad says:

    Your thoughts on the freebies have me wondering if popularity is a blessing or a curse? With only a fraction of your audience, I receive several promotional emails a day, which creates more inbox noise to wade through.

    I think I’ll adopt your policy of accepting things without obligation to post about them, and finding something useful for the left-overs.

    Enjoyed the roundup this week!

  4. Anne says:

    The article on whole life/cash value life insurance was great. I took out a policy on my son and chose Guaranteed Purchase Options. This means I can increase the amount of his coverage every three years until he is 42 years old, with no qualification for health. He’s 19 and now has a medical condition which renders him uninsurable. With the GPO’s, and the fact that this is permanent insurance, his future family will be covered should something happen to him. What a relief!

  5. Excellent policy, Trent! I admire your conviction and your dedication to impartiality.

  6. Nanc says:

    You might consider giving the freebies to a chartiy for an auction or if they have a thrift store they could resell in their store or if they have a rummage sale they could resell there.

  7. Pat says:

    So sorry to hear about your Grandma. My condolences to you and your family.

  8. Sharon says:

    My husband and I have variable life policies. If we had gotten term life insurance, my husband would not be uninsurable, as would I. We got them in our early 20s, and the premiums will NEVER go up. Because we also got the disability rider, where the company pays premiums if the person becomes disabled, my husband’s policies have been free since 1993.

    People keep assuming that they can get a new term policy when the time comes. Bad assumption!

  9. Yes, freebies can pile up quickly. I love getting free stuff and trying new products. A lot of those free things come with great coupons as well. I also find great joy in giving those free items away. Free stuff is a passion of mine.

    I am glad you also give a lot of it away. I am sure your free gifts are also appreciated.

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