Simplify Your Life

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Clean out your closets and donate clothing and shoes you no longer wear to a local thrift store.

Downsizing, simplifying our lives, non-consumerism, voluntary simplicity, paring down — no matter what you call it, cutting back in different areas of your life often can leave you with ... more, especially more money and free time.

That’s not to say we should all sell our homes and move into a converted 300-square foot garage. Changing a lifestyle that’s always said “more is better” might not be easy, but in many cases it can be well worth your while to take at least a few steps toward a simpler life right where you are.

Some basics:

• Figure out what’s important to you, and get rid of everything else.

• Before you buy anything, ask yourself: Will something you already have work just as well? Can it be repaired, and is it cost effective to do so? Where will this new item live? Is it something of lasting value? Is there another way to get it besides handing over money?

• Barter for what you need, using your unwanted items or your own skills in trade. Simply knowing how to change the oil in your neighbor’s car is a valuable skill to someone who doesn’t have it but can offer fresh vegetables or child care in exchange.

• Clothing: Shop thrift stores instead of buying new. Give away two items for every one you bring into the house.

• De-clutter: Knick-knacks covering flat surfaces, multiple wrist watches, a dozen pairs of shoes, a dining-room table with seating for 12 when the most you ever use is four chairs — all this and more is clutter. If you have to dust it, step around it or hunt for it in the closet, it could be clutter.

• Cash in on unwanted (or unused) possessions at a yard sale (go in with a couple neighbors to make the task easier). Give worn linens to the Humane Society for animal bedding; give books to the library. Give suits (for men and women) to a local thrift store for those who are job hunting.

Consider: The less you own, the less you have to take care of. The less you buy, the more money you keep in your pocket.

David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

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