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5 Ways to Simplify and Save

Written by Shirleen Holt

The economic crisis is forcing us to to slow our purchases or at least think about whether we need all that stuff.

As George Carlin would say, I need a place for my stuff.

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My closets are crammed with clothes for every season and every diet; the space under my bed is filled with Christmas decorations and my kitchen storage closet is so packed I had to put my George Foreman grill on top of my Italian coffee maker.

Am I richer for this stuff? No, I'm hostage to it. I'm gone 12 hours a day to earn the money to keep the house to hold the stuff. I'm not alone. There are millions of us who spent like drunken monkeys, only to wake up with a hangover of debt, guilt and pasta makers.

Perhaps this explains "simple living," the cultural movement that has us shedding our materialism in favor of a cleaner, cheaper life.

Watch this video of Stephen Covey on life priorities.

Actually there are two trends: the pious voluntary simplicity movement, which involves an element of austerity, poverty and deprivation, scolded one follower on an Internet message board); and "simple living," a concoction of Madison Avenue aimed at selling us more stuff so we can live simply. Think a $7,000 Akoya pearl necklace or antique tree stumps for eqully exhobitant prices.

Most of us fit between the extremes. We realize our lumbering SUVs were a gross waste of money, but there's no way we're giving up The Sopranos to save a few bucks on our cable bill.

So for the semi-committed, here are FIVE things that can make life simpler and cheaper.

1. Bag the clutter

A pot with a lid makes good rice. I discovered this when my rice cooker broke. Since then I've been on a tear, tossing into a donation box a mini Cuisinart, which never did chop right; an electric grill; a hand stick blender, which is different than a hand mixer, which I also tossed after buying an outrageously expensive KitchenAid mixer.

These things were supposed to make kitchen work simpler, but after pulling them out of the cupboard, plugging them in and then cleaning all the parts, the gadgets soon became, well, complicated. Instead I kept them in the cupboard and paid rent on the space they were taking up.

Out goes the second TV, an unnecessary luxury. I'm not advocating getting rid of television entirely. I'll leave that to the VS zealots. Out, too, is the desktop computer, a space-waster considering the laptop has the same functions.

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