Grit Blogs > The One-Acre Farm

How Much Does Free Cost?

Jim BakerTo those of you who read my little rambling posts, this one is meant to make you smile and maybe rethink our society's definition, especially with the younger generation, of the word 'free.' We all see it everywhere; buy one get one FREE. I belong to a couple of sportsman groups, as many of you do I am sure. You have seen these: subscribe now and get a FREE backback or tote. Buy a new car and get 'FREE' oil changes for as long as you own the car. Or the car shows or other events you go to and you sign up for a 'FREE' something or other and get hounded by phone calls and junk mail and you still don't 'win' the 'FREE' thing!

So, since my old brain works differently than most do, or at least on a slightly skewed plane compared to most, I thought I would pose some math facts to all you reading this. I hope you can smile, nod in agreement or even laugh out loud at my mathematical cyphering (to paraphrase Jethro Bodine from "The Beverly Hillbillies") here. For you younger readers, if you Google (I have been told, I do not know from first hand experience) "Beverly Hillbillies," you will see who I am talking about.

buy two get one free | Fotolia/s_lena

Photo: Fotolia/s_lena

Let's take this for-instance – I see something I want on Craig's List, it is 'free,' so I call and it is still available. The 'giver' will even be so kind as to hold said freebie for me (not often done by the way). Here begins the math thing. And everything will be based on minimum wage and not take into consideration stuff that doesn't get done that I promised myself would get done around here ... today.

Locating where the place is and determining it is close enough to 'make it worthwhile' for me usually takes about 15 minutes. I drive a 15-year-old pickup that gets, maybe on a good day, 20 miles to the gallon highway and it ain't had a good day for a few years if you catch my meaning. I find out this place I am going is 30 minutes away, maybe 20 miles for argument sake and to make the math easier (always a good thing). Gas where I live right now is in the $2.40 something range per gallon.

So I have 15 minutes to do the computer stuff, with 30 minutes each way there and back. Another 30 minutes when I get there to load, talk and visit a little and get on my way, and say 15 minutes to get unloaded when I get home. Right now, with nothing else in the equation, I have 'cost' myself two hours or $15. Throw in the gas, another $4.50 (for ease of the math) and for all the accountants out there, wear and tear on the truck, insurance, depreciation and other things I don't even know about, toss in another $5. Now, we will go under the assumption I didn't have a flat tire, blow an engine or have a transmission go out on me. We also won't count the stop I made to grab a soda and some crackers.

free stuff | Fotolia/Marek

Photo: Fotolia/Marek

So right now, my 'FREE' has cost me approximately $25. And that is being very conservative. So let's say for argument's sake, I found someone with a free rooster that I decide I want. And I go get that 'free' rooster, which I will have paid, in time and coin of the realm, $25 for when all is said and done. And to make things even worse, I am happy about the deal because after all, it was 'FREE'!

Now I have to run along. I just found a free stack of old lumber that is only 45 miles from here, no photographs about what I am getting yet the person said it was 'pretty decent stuff' and I have to pull all the nails and 'be careful of the poison ivy and the snakes.' It is a first-come-first-serve, can't afford to miss this deal, it's 'FREE'!

Love to hear from all of you!
jwbgso@aol.com