Decluttering Magazine Articles

It’s  now December which means I turn 40 this month. It’s by that date that I vowed to myself I’d have all my possessions pared down to what I really want to own.

I’ve been doing quite well with decluttering my “stuff stuff” but had somehow declined to remember that in our 2 drawer file cabinet I had quite a bit of “paper stuff.” I waded into that mess today and have compiled a sizeable pile of personal papers that I need to go through this next week.

The point of this blog entry, though, is to share a de-cluttering tidbit that I just discovered today. I had saved in the file cabinet about a half dozen articles from magazines. They contained information, stories or interviews that I wanted to be able to reference. In fact, while looking at them today I still wanted to keep them for reference.

I initially sat down on the couch to read them all again and reassess whether they were worth scanning into my computer. Then, on a lark, I decided to google the articles. That turned out to be a great idea. Not only was I able to find the online versions of articles from 2007 but I was able to find online versions of articles from 1999!

I compiled the web addresses and info into an email, emailed it to myself for archival storage in a Gmail folder and I also stored the info in a Simplenote on my iPod Touch for reference whenever I wanted.

So, I saved time from having to re-read them, saved time from having to scan them and am now able to recycle the physical paper articles and get rid of more clutter from the files.  Win, win, win!

Toss the Rewards Cards

…but continue getting your discounts and points.

These days there are rewards cards for everything: gasoline, greeting cards, sporting goods, book stores, pet supplies, office supplies, groceries, auto parts and coffee. Also, there are gym memberships and other entry points that use a barcode system.

If you were to carry all those cards around you’d need 3 wallets. Luckily, there are a few tools available to help you decrease that wad of cards immensely, if not totally.

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Paperless Banking

I saw this bank sign as I drove by last week and simply had to stop and snap a picture.

More and more banks are following the lead that airlines took a few years ago by increasing or creating new fees to charge their customers. My own credit union sent out a letter last week with a complete list of all the fees they will start charging at the beginining of March. A new one on the list that immediately caught my eye is that they are going to charge $1 per month to mail out a monthly statement. We already use online banking for transferring money and making payments so I guess we’ll just move to paperless statements too. I can use $12 a year for something else and won’t mind saving space in my file cabinet at the same time.

More fees will be raised or newly instituted as banks try to cope with increased federal regulations and loss of other income like overdraft fees. It’s becoming commonplace that banks will charge $1-2 for mailing a paper statement and $2-3 for mailing that statement with check images.

Watch out for the fineprint and watch your wallets.

This Blog Has a New Mission

…well not new, perhaps more focused would be the way to describe how I’m going to start blogging from this point on.

The header to my website used to read: My thoughts on minimalist living, simple living and American-style consumerism in the 21st century.

It’s now going to state: Follow along as I declutter by age 40 and teach my children about “stuff” as I do. Minimalist living is my goal.

(that sentence may get adjusted slightly as we go, but it’s a start)

I’ve always liked to write blog posts but there have been times when I just run out of subjects to write about. A blogger of any kind should be able to write with passion about, well, whatever the heck it is they created a blog for. I believe the phrase is “write about what you know.” Now I will.

I’m 39. I turn 40 in December 2011 and I aim to have myself decluttered by the time that day arrives. The year 2011 on this blog will be spent writing entries based on how I have decluttered, what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I’ll also continue to write about minimalist living, simple living and my thoughts on American style consumerism. (<- thanks to Dave Bruno for introducing me to that term.) I’m almost finished reading Dave’s book “The 100 Thing Challenge” and it’s really hitting home. He just makes a helluva lot of sense to me. I don’t know what number of possessions I’ll have when that day in December rolls around, it could be 300 or it could be 800 but I will have a number. I want to count what I have and I will certainly know that on that day, each item I claim as my own will indeed be something valuable to me that I want to call my own.

So there it is, now I’m off to write.

Rich Rodriguez Simplifies

…and why wouldn’t he? Fired after 3 seasons as the head football coach for the University of Michigan, Rodriguez has no desire to hang onto clothing from his former employer.

What’s cool though is that he presented the 400+ items to a nearby Salvation Army. The Detroit Free Press reports:

(he) was cleaning out his closet last Monday while thinking about how he might do the most good with some exciting pieces associated with his recent position as Coach of the Michigan Wolverines.

That’s when he arrived at The Salvation Army in Wayne with 12 bags of Michigan Football clothing from his personal wardrobe.

And the Detroit News states the inventory as:

23 shorts, 23 pants, 139 T-shirts, 15 long-sleeve pullovers, 96 polos, 22 sweatshirts, 30 windbreakers, 31 button-downs, 6 midweight jackets, 7 misc new shirts, 2 tank tops, 26 caps, 6 hats, 1 pair of gloves, 1 hand towel, 1 jersey, 1 wool varsity coat, 1 Gator Bowl polo, 1 button-down Rose Bowl shirt.

(Maybe he’s actually getting ready for Project 333)

My question is why haven’t we heard of other coaches, pro or college, that have done this? These guys get fired all the time, what happens to all their stuff? Rodriguez’s donations will be auctioned off tomorrow and will likely raise lots of needed funds for The Salvation Army. Way to go Rich Rod, congrats on decluttering for the greater good!

Facebook: Good or Evil?

Sam Spurlin wrote a recent blog post explaining why he deleted his facebook account. I was typing a comment to his post and then saw how much I was typing. It was long enough to warrant it’s own post on my blog…so I copied and pasted.

I’m not beating up on Sam for his decision, he makes very valid points as do the commenters on his post about why facebook is or isn’t important to them. Sam’s point is that he allowed reading someone’s facebook status and perhaps commenting on it to replace having a real meaningful interaction with that person and developing or deepening his relationship with his friends. He writes:

I allowed it to trick me into thinking 1,000 Facebook friendships are suitable replacements for 10 real relationships. I’ve been lulled into the false sense of security that tells me because I can instantly communicate with all the people in my life, I don’t need to right now. Not talking to you right now, even though I could, has turned into not talking to you for 6 months. And then a year. And then two years.

Facebook has become much less about communicating meaningfully with people and much more about knowing what everyone is doing. And it’s not you, it’s me.

I care about you as a person and for me, Facebook is becoming extremely adept at removing your humanity. Instead, you are just another line of information in an endlessly updating stream flowing in front of my eyes as cheap entertainment. I don’t want that and you don’t want that.

I have facebook. I love facebook.
When my wife and I first got our accounts we went nuts trying to find people to “friend.” We had a bit of a competition to see who had a bigger number of “friends.” (I think I fell back into my old habit of trying to collect things. In this case, people) We delved into other people’s friend lists to see if they knew someone that we knew too. We were wasting time trying to unearth names from old workplaces, college, high school, etc. I let my facebook account pile up with junk and likes and acquaintances for several months, maybe even a year or so until it all got to be too much. At that point I was equating the value of facebook with volume. Quantity over quality.

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Unused Cord Clutter

We all have some versions of cord clutter in our homes. There’s the entertainment center clutter: cables running from the TV to the cable box to the DVD player to the VCR (yup, still have one) to the game system to the power strip and finally to the outlets. And I don’t have to remind you about the cords required for your computer, printer, monitors and hard drives.

But, that’s not the cord clutter I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about the perfectly good cords that we accumulate when we purchase or replace electronic items. When you buy a new DVD player, for example, you just unhook the cords from the old player and plug the new DVD player right in. What you’re left with are the new cords from the new DVD player and they are “too good to throw away.” I learned at an early age that keeping extra cords and wires around was always a good idea because you never know when you are going to need one.

  • This I learned from my dad.
  • This became my own habit.
  • This filled a shoebox and a half in one of my closets.
  • This cluttered collection disappeared last night. (sorry Dad)

I thought I’d check out what I had in those boxes and see what I could declutter. I found a lot to declutter…this much in fact:

…and this picture doesn’t include the items I decided to keep.

Some of this stuff has never been used. I had USB to USB, USB to mini USB, several wall chargers that I have no idea what they go to, a few cigarette lighter adapters, some various versions of audio and video cables as well as some other junk. I categorized the wires and cables and kept a half dozen or so that I feel would be useful. The rest? After I double check to make sure the cigarette lighter and wall adapters don’t go to anything, they’ll all be hauled to my local Best Buy. Did you know that Best Buy stores have bins for recycling phones, cords, remotes, CDs, DVDs and such? And if you have larger electronics items, Best Buy will take them for free and send them to be recycled. So check all the closets and drawers, gather up those stray cords and, at the least, get them organized in one place, and at the most, make a short stop at Best Buy for recycling.