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Some intrusions into your time and clutter in your home are your own doing. You've invited them. Remember that anything you regularly get by mail costs you time and money that may be spent elsewhere.

The strategy here is to reduce what you aren't actively using. For example, you may love cats, but perhaps your subscription to a cat magazine goes unused--you simply don't read it. Consider instead a donation in the same amount of money as your subscription to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or your local Humane Society. This could do a whole lot more for cats, the environment, and your time and attention.

TACTIC: Reconsider all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and newsletters that you have.

Read the periodical in the public library, on the Internet, or purchase the periodical less frequently from a newsstand. Certainly, it is understandable if you can't bear to part with some subscriptions, but examine the stacks of unread periodicals in your home. Consider canceling any that you have not read for the past two issues.

TACTIC: End membership in any club or organization that you have not participated in during the past six months.

Your lack of participation is a sure sign you are not interested. If you quit the organization, see how you feel after six months. If you miss it, you could always join again.

TACTIC: Cancel all but one or two credit cards.

Each credit card you have exposes you to risk of loss or theft, unwanted direct marketing, and a temptation to use it. Pick out the one or two that you use the most. Cut the others in half and send the pieces back to the card issuer with instructions to cancel the account.

You may have special business uses or needs for having more than two credit cards. But consider canceling any that you have not used in the past six months.

TACTIC: Request to be removed from catalog mailing lists.

If it is a catalog that you like, use the Web site instead--the information is more up-to-date, it doesn't clutter your home, and frequently the Web site has specials the paper catalog doesn't have.

You still are going to get things into your home. Make it a habit to discard useless items as soon as they enter your home.

TACTIC: Make it a habit to sort your incoming postal mail immediately.

Place important mail in a designated place. Throw unwanted sales solicitations and catalogs into a recycling bin immediately. Be sure to cut up or shred anything with your personal account numbers on it, or any pre-approved credit card applications.

TACTIC: Have a routine for getting rid of incoming periodicals. Newspapers: get rid of any that are three days old. Magazines: throw out the old when the next issue comes. Catalogs: discard when the next comes. Don't save old catalogs and magazines.

Prevent more acquisitions of stuff you don't need

If you've stopped the flow of items into your home, purged what you don't need, then you need to put in place a policy and attitude that helps you resist adding more things you don't need.

TACTIC: Resist impulse buys.

When you shop, make a list of items that you plan to purchase. When you go into a store or online to shop, buy only those items. If an item catches your eye, try waiting one week to reconsider and purchase it. In "Hone Your Routine," I'll suggest a single shopping day to consolidate your buying routine.

TACTIC: Donate gifts you receive but do not want.

Certainly, you should thank anyone who gives you a gift. It would be rude to give it back or throw it away, but is it polite to store unwanted gifts in your closet or garage? Give the gift to a thrift shop or a charity. What you don't want could do someone else a lot of good, and your conscience can be clear.

TACTIC: Avoid shopping as recreation or therapy.

Instead, when you need time out of the house, take up exercise, walk along your favorite lake or river, or volunteer at a charitable organization.

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2013-04-16 · John December · Contact · Terms of Use © December Communications, Inc.