Finances & Money Frugality

Freecycle Rocks! Guess what I got for free…

So this weekend, I’m browsing through my Freecycle emails when I spot something interesting. Someone is giving away a Garmin Quest portable navigation unit (MSRP $450-600, on sale for ~$250). They didn’t say it was broken or anything, just that all it had was the unit and the car charger. It was hours after it originally posted, so I assumed I wouldn’t get it, but I responded anyway with a request to get it.

A few hours later (around 9:30pm on Saturday), I checked my email and saw a reply from the owner. Apparently the first person to respond didn’t come to pick up the unit, so it was all mine. Woohoo!

So at around 10pm, I woke Stacie from her nap (ok, she had passed out while watching the live-action Nodame anime) and headed out the door to pick up the Garmin. The offerer’s house was only 4 miles away and she had left it on the front porch. We got there, I ran up to the door and sure enough it was in a plastic Ziploc bag as she had claimed. I grabbed it, went back to the truck then drove away.

At the next stop sign, we got it into the cradle, plugged it in and powered it up. It works! It took a minute or two to locate and acquire the satellite signal, but it tracked our movement perfectly.

Luckily, since Stacie has a Garmin Forerunner 301 for running, the USB cable used to update software on the Forerunner also works with the Garmin Quest. When I got home, I went to Garmin‘s site, found the updates and got the latest software version. Unfortunately, I can’t see whether I can get map updates for free until their map section is back online. She didn’t give me the Map CD, but I’m willing to buy a new one if needed to get the activation code.

“Freecycler’s Regret”

So I wanted to know why the lady gave away a $250+ unit for free so I emailed her. Her response was:

I couldn’t make it work like I wanted and didn’t like the fact that it couldn’t hold the whole country, map-wise. Maybe I should have sold it. If that’s the case, I guess you just got an amazing bargain.

I don’t know what she means about holding the “whole country, map-wise” because it does hold all of North America. I’m thinking that either she got it for free from a friend or relative and couldn’t figure it out or, worse case, it was stolen and she regretted it. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and opt for the first reason. Either way, I scored big on this freecycle deal!

Did We Need a GPS Unit?

No, we didn’t NEED one, which is why we’ve never bought one. We kept telling each other “our next car will have a navigation unit”, but when we bought a new car, we couldn’t justify spending $1000-2000 just to add the unit. We told ourselves we could just buy a portable unit for a fraction of the cost. But we still couldn’t justify spending that money because we could just Google Map it for free, or use one of our map books if needed.

But since we got this one for free, I’m not complaining. I’m still wary of listening to its directions because on my test from the grocery store to home, it told me to turn left on a street that I can’t turn onto without going over 2 large grassy medians. Can I use that as an excuse when the officer pulls me over? But the benefit will be being able to access maps when I don’t have a paper map handy, or if our paper map is wrong (like every time we go to New Jersey).

The Lesson Learned

So the lesson here is to go give Freecycle a shot. It’s a message board format and very simple to use (once you get past the slightly complicated sign-up process). You can score big, or use it to dump your own unwanted or unneeded stuff on others!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Give her the benefit of the doubt…I had a couple purchases of random electronics that my (now ex-) boyfriend talked me into. When I finally realized how much of a disaster the relationship was and we split up, I just wanted those things gone. I felt embarassed that I had spent the money on junk but didn’t really want to admit it, so I gave away some toys that I probably should have sold.

  • Congrats, great find! I’ve had much success with it in the past’d be amazed at the actual antiques people are getting rid of because they just don’t want to be bothered. Of course, I’ve also given stuff away myself and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t ready for the literal artillery bombardment of emails I received! A word to the wise, if you post something to give away on freecycle, be sure you are sitting at your computer to handle the email load and then quickly post a response…it can actually shut down your email, especially if you are in a big city group. Also, many groups can be a bit uppity or quirky…everyone has their own criteria of how they pick who to give their item to, not all pick the first person who responds… some try to pick the person with the saddest story..and others don’t pick you unless they’ve seen you on there giving your own stuff away.

  • Clever Dude,

    Wow, what a great find.

    There is a Wall Street Journal article about how a GPS sometimes goes to abandoned roads or dead ends. So it’s good to still use common sense.

    A colleague told me a GPS is great on a vacation. If one has a couple hours to burn before leaving, a GPS allows one to see one more sight and cut it close for getting to the airport, provided it doesn’t take one through a building 🙂

    I still can’t justify buying one. But free would be acceptable.

  • Freecycle is great for other purposes as well. In addition to the occasional gem of a find like this there is the costs and resources saved if you need something specific or could use it for a project but the quality does not have to be high.

    It is also helpful for getting rid of things that you find during spring cleaning that are not even good enough to give to goodwill. Like jeans that are worn out in multiple places (some people use them for making quilts and other crafts), mostly full bottles of lotions/cleaners that you decided you didn’t like the smell of, 1/2 full bags of potpourri etc.

    I live in a town of about 100K and I have not noticed any email bloat because of posting items on there.

    From a financial standpoint that woman might have been better off donating it to charity if she itemizes deductions on her taxes, but I understand when you just want something you consider junk gone.

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