FREE! That word is magic to people’s ears and they are immediately drawn in, no matter what it is. Money doesn’t just fall out the sky and into your wallets, so when you hear the word free, it’s nice for a change. The only thing is, most people don’t stop and think of the reasoning behind that word.
Let’s take credit card companies as an example. Some of you may remember the infamous free Subway lunch invitation. An average-looking man came up to my friend and I as we came out the Bookstore Complex and gave both of us a small invitation that read “FREE SUBWAY.” As a starving college student, you can’t just overlook an invitation like that. I asked the guy, “What’s the catch?”
He smiled and simply said, “All you have to do is go to Subway and show them this little invitation and you will get a coupon for your free lunch.”
Sounded simple enough, so my friend and I went to Subway and saw a small crowd and we immediately assessed that we were not the only ones invited to this little gathering. When we entered Subway, there was a man sitting at a table with a stack of forms. The catch to the free Subway meal was to sign up for a credit card. Question is: Do I sign up for the credit card and get the Subway meal which can result in more debt for me in the near future, or should I walk away and not get the free Subway lunch?
Well, if you think I chose both, then you are correct. I filled out the application, putting down completely false information, and got the free Subway meal. I was lucky in finding a loophole, but other people might not have been so lucky and now have one more credit card to deal with just for that free sandwich, chips or cookie and a drink. Credit card companies don’t care about college students’ future credit scores as long as they sign up more people.
Another example is the Army and all its finest glory. Now, we cannot stop the army from coming on campus to advertise to students that they should join the army and “Be all that you can be,” but we can sort through the lies that we are being told.
Every once in a while, they are here on campus passing out CDs, T-shirts, Frisbees, and other goodies. I love music. When I hear the expression “free music CD,” I am immediately drawn in. What snaps me out is the dreaded phrase “put your information here and all this could be yours.”
Once again, it was a choice. Do I write my contact information and gather as many goodies as I can or do I slowly back away and run? For this situation, I choose the first option. I did get my free CD and t-shirt but to this day, I can’t stop all the informative army pamphlets that fill my mailbox, day in and day out. I have two younger brothers at home so I quickly dispose of the army paraphernalia so they don’t become interested in the wonderfully worded empty promises of a full college education and financial aid just as long as you put your life on the line.
My senior year of high school was very boring, considering that I had already been accepted to college and was sick and tired of high school. Sitting in my economics class, I listened to my teacher, Mr. Tran, drone on about the economy and society, but he said one thing that I did not quite understand until I got to college. Mr. Tran once told me, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” That statement never made sense to me, but it immediately clicked in college.
We as students and people need to get smarter and realize that there truly is no such thing as a free lunch. If you see something that is free, read the fine print and ask questions. Know what you are getting into before you sign on the line and chisel your name in stone.
Just by questioning, you can save yourself future debt or enlistment to the Army where your life can be permanently changed by just falling into that trap ,and all because you heard the word FREE.