Just the other day, a friend of mine emailed to see if I was interested in a few boxes of girl’s clothes.  Of course, I was totally interested.  Duh.  After all, buying used stuff is one of my favorite ways to save money….especially on stuff for my kids.

But, when I got to her house, she said she didn’t want anything for the clothes.

“I don’t want any money,” she said.  “I just want to get rid of it since we’re moving.”

That made sense.  After all, their house was on the market and they were in the midst of packing up everything they own.  Still, I felt bad.  I didn’t need these clothes, and there are plenty of people out there who do.

Disclaimer: When I talk about “rich people” in the context of this post, I’m not talking about filthy rich with diamonds dripping, fake boobs, and a new Ferrari.  I’m simply talking about middle or upper middle class people who have their financial lives together.  Got it?

Giving the Gift of Guilt

I got home with the two giant boxes of clothing and couldn’t believe my eyes.  They were literally filled with hundreds of dollars of clothing in excellent condition.  Name brand jeans, trendy little tops, and winter coats….and so much of it.  I instantly felt guilty for taking the clothes without paying for them.  I mean, my friend was moving.  Didn’t she need the money?  I’m sure she could have used it to pay for movers, right?  Or maybe to buy something for her new house or apartment.

And what about everyone else?  The box of free clothing I received is awesome, but I can certainly afford to buy clothes for my kids on my own.  Meanwhile, kids everywhere go without winter clothes, gloves, and shoes.  Or they wear hand-me-downs that don’t fit simply because that is all that they have.

Other people’s kids.  Kids whose parents either don’t have the money or the connections.

Should Rich People Take Free Stuff?

These free clothes really got me thinking about whether or not it’s fair for rich people to take free stuff when so many people are in need.  It also made me realize just how stacked the deck is for people who are already well off.  After all, “rich people” are more likely to know the kind of people who will randomly give you $1,000 worth of name brand children’s clothing for nothing.  And, fair or not, those kinds of perks are what helps other well-off people get ahead and stay ahead.

Should rich people take free stuff?  Honestly, I think it’s up to the individual.  I certainly appreciated the boxes of clothing my friend gave me and I will definitely put them to good use.  I’ve also appreciated the hundreds of dollars of clothing my sister has given me over the years as her daughter has outgrown them.  But, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that all of the freebies I’ve received over the years are part of the reason we’ve been able to get ahead.

At the same time, something doesn’t feel right about being on the receiving end of someone’s generosity at this point in my life.  Something about the entire experience just made me feel dirty and greedy.  I hope to explore those feelings more in the future and look for new ways to pay it forward.  I’m fortunate to be able to afford clothing for my children, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone.

Should rich people take free stuff?  Do you ever feel guilty when someone gives you something you don’t really deserve?