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5 Ways to Simplify and Save - Getting Rid of the Clutter

Written by Shirleen Holt

I even went through my photographs, which I've kept in processor envelopes for 10 years. Iget rid of the clutter to get clarity got rid of the blurry pictures, the unidentified subjects, the seven different shots of the Capitol building. I put them in photo albums and gave my desk drawers some breathing room.

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The beds-in-a-bag must go, although I cringe to think how much money I spent "saving money" on the cheap comforter sets, every one of which got ripped during the first washing.

The size 9 clothes are bagged and ready for Goodwill. If by some miracle I returned to that size, I had to face it: I'll never again wear high-waisted bell-bottoms with rainbow patches on the pockets.

2. Get a library card

I used to spend about $60 a month on books and another $40 renting movies. The books filled up my shelves and spilled onto just about every household surface.

You can justify holding a place for, say, a leather-bound collection of Shakespeare's tragedies or even The Lord of the Rings. But buying another bookshelf to hold Monica's Story, American Rhapsody and three different accounts of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster is even sillier than reading them.

Library cards are as cheap today as they were when we were kids, but now they give you access to enormous computer databases. So besides the wealth of books, you can download for free the kind of arcane articles that only used to be found through expensive Lexis-Nexis searches.

Most libraries are now on a computer network, allowing you to log on at home to see if the book you want is in. You can also renew via computer, saving an extra car trip.

Some libraries also let you check out videos. The selection depends on the branch, of course, but some progressive systems carry modern movies of all ratings but X.

3.Start an herb garden

Even if you rarely cook, you'll spend less money and time maintaining an outdoor herb garden than you will making those three trips to the store for fresh basil.

And you don't even need a yard. Some grocery stores, like Trader Joe's, sell mixed herbs in a flower pot that hangs outside. Unfortunately, I didn't repot the thing and all but one plant died.

Perennials like thyme, oregano and chives have a long growing season, provided they get a lot of sun (about six hours a day) and good soil drainage. Basil, dill and marjoram have a short growing season, which means you'll need to harvest and freeze or dry them at the first cold snap.

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