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									                       Simple Living
                       Simple Living
                           W I T H YO U R H O S T,   JANE T LUHR S
                                                                                                         Connecting you with people,
                                                                                                         products, and ideas that
                                                                                                         allow you to live more simply

                                                                                                               JULY 05 | ISSUE 54

                                                               From Clutter to Cash
                                            t’s garage sale season again, and many of you   time you planted yourself outside in front of
                                            are no doubt looking around at all of your      your place and had nowhere to go for a whole
                     Janet Luhrs            own piles of junk, wondering if a garage sale   weekend, or at least a whole day? With just
                                         is the best way to get rid of your stuff.          a little pre-planning, your garage sale can
    IN THIS ISSUE:                            At the last major garage sale I hosted        be fun and effective. Here are a few ways to
                                         back when I was in my 20s, I inadvertently         make it a good one.
    • From Clutter to
      Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
                                         wound up selling practically everything I           Host your sale on a non-holiday week-
                                         owned. I had a little brownstone-style apart-        end. Many people leave town on holiday
    • Shamelessly                        ment with the door to the street, and set up         weekends, so find another date (unless
      Cheap Travel                       my tables of junk right outside the door. It         your house is on a main route in and out
      Deals . . . . . . . . . . . 5      was warm and sunny, so I left my door open.          of town).
                                         As the day progressed and my tables cleared,
    • Ask Janet: Clear                   a woman noticed my couch and asked if she           Host it with other families. The larger
      Your Brain’s                       could see it. “Sure,” I said, and before long I      the sale, the more people will be attracted.
      Inbox . . . . . . . . . . . 7      accepted her offer to buy it! Someone else           Plus, you’ll have more fun and camarade-
                                         followed and noticed my drapes. “Sure,” I            rie, and it’s also safer. Most people who go
                                         said, and before long I accepted another offer       to garage sales are great folks, but scam
                                         for the drapes. And on it went until my liv-         artists are not uncommon. One will dis-
                                         ing room was nearly empty!                           tract you while the other makes off with
                                                                                              your stuff.
                                             Since I hadn’t planned to sell this much
                                         of my stuff, you’d think I would have been          Always keep your money on you—in
                                         seriously depressed, with nowhere to sit,            a pocket, apron, or fanny pack. Hide
                                         no drapes on the windows, no comforting              your larger bills in a separate pocket.
                                         stuff around—but it was just the opposite. I         You should also start the day with about
                                         sat on the floor in the middle of my nearly          $100 in all variations of small change.
                                         empty apartment and felt an absolute, joy-          Price your things about one-quarter or
                                         ous freedom. It was a profound sense of              so of the cost to buy new, and always
                                         lightness and relief!                                mark your items with a price. To make
                                            Even though I eventually replaced the             pricing easier, you can use colored mark-
                                         couch and a few other things, I never forgot         ers and keep a list: all green marks are
                                         the feeling of lightness I experienced that          .50, red is $1.00, and so forth.
                                         day—knowing I could turn on a dime, with            Make it festive! The longer you can entice
                                         few material possessions to worry about or           people to hang around, the more likely
                                         weigh me down.                                       they’ll buy something. Play lively music,
                                                                                              sell lemonade or homemade punch. You
                                                     Safe and Festive                         can also get your kids involved. If they’re
                                                      Garage Sales                            old enough, they can make cookies and
                                                                                              brownies and sell them—whatever it takes
                                             If you like the idea of hanging out, relax-
                                         ing, and getting to know your neighbors,             to keep people entertained while browsing
                                         garage sales are wonderful. When is the last         through your stuff.
                                                                                                                        (Continued on page 3)

     1 | July 2005                        For recipes, back issues, and the Simple Living Café log on to

SL0705.indd 1                                                                                                                        6/20/2005 1:09:19 PM
                The Heirloom Dilemma                                             What You Can Do Without
                                                                                    For the items you want to give away, start by calling all
               As if you didn’t have enough trouble keeping up                   of your blood relatives, followed by non-blood relatives,
            with your own stuff, what do you do when you inher-                  friends, colleagues, and neighbors. You’ll feel better in the
            it another houseful of belongings from a loved one?                  end if you give these heirlooms to people who have some
                                                                                 connection to you. Plus, you can always visit the things
              Run and hide? Wait! I have some plans for you. I
                                                                                 if you want to take a trip down Memory Lane. After you
            have my own set of heirlooms, and in nearly every
                                                                                 have exhausted your search for good homes, try charities
            talk I’ve given about simplicity, someone in the audi-               that have meaning for you, and then keep searching until
            ence asks about heirlooms. This always sparks a lively               you find the best home possible.
            discussion. I’ll tell you exactly what I tell them.
                                                                                   For the remaining items that have either sentimental or
              Simple living rule #1: Thou shalt not hang on to anything          monetary value, take pictures of each item and put the
            out of guilt, lest thine home become a den of overwhelming clutter   photos in a nice album. After our beloved grandmother
            and despair.                                                         died, my cousin went around her home and took photos
                                                                                 of the rooms, just as they were. This little album means
               Next, you need to ask yourself the really tough questions:
                                                                                 as much to me as the actual furniture, because it brings
            is it love or guilt? Remember that your deceased relatives
                                                                                 back all of the wonderful memories we had in her house.
            probably could care less about these material things now             Even though you can’t take photos in the person’s home,
            that they are floating in the ether. Therefore, there’s no           you can still take them of the items that mean something
            need to hang on to their stuff out of guilt. They’re free, so        to you, but that you can’t keep in your home.
            why should you be burdened?                                             Finally, sell the things that are valuable, but you don’t
                                                                                 want to keep. First, offer to sell them to relatives and
            Making the Love Distinction                                          friends, and then try public places like ebay, craigslist.
              First and foremost, you need to distinguish                        com, or auction houses. (To find a good, local auction
                                                                                 house, do a Google search or call higher-end antique or
            between the heirlooms you really love and the ones
                                                                                 furniture stores and ask them who they’d recommend.)
            that just produce guilt: For example, “My grandma
            hand crocheted this pink toilet seat cover—how can I
            get rid of it?” That’s probably guilt, not love.                     Relish What You Love
                                                                                    Now you’re left with what you love. But what if you
              Be very, very discerning when making this distinc-
                                                                                 don’t have room? If they’re that important to you, sell
            tion. It is much, much better to keep only a few spe-                something else in your home to make room for these
            cial things that you can look at, use, and enjoy than                items. Do not try to hang on to both sets of furniture, for
            trying to hang on to too much. If you keep too much,                 example, or you’ll start resenting everything. I inherited
            you won’t be able to appreciate what you have, and                   my grandma’s bedroom set and for me it was a no-brainer.
            you’ll start feeling overwhelmed and resentful. ‘Tis a               I sold the one I already had to make room for hers.
            far, far better thing to be left with fond memories of                  The bottom line is to keep things moving and move
            your deceased relative—and you can do that by being                  them as quickly as you can. I’ve known people who
            very selective about what you keep.                                  wound up with a houseful of things from a deceased
              Using this filter, place the things you truly love in a            relative, and, due to guilt, confusion, and inertia, they
            separate place. Now divide the remaining items into                  lived in absolute chaos and clutter for years because
                                                                                 they felt paralyzed and couldn’t make decisions. I can’t
            piles according to value. Garage sale type items go in
                                                                                 imagine that any relative who loved you would want you
            one pile. Medium value items go in another pile, and
                                                                                 to be burdened by their material possessions after they
            really valuable things in a third pile.                              die, so start letting go.
              Now decide if you want to earn money from the                         If you find yourself getting stuck, get help. Ask a friend
            more valuable things or whether you are willing to                   or two to come and help you move through your heir-
            give them away to other family members. Put aside                    looms. (Better to ask friends rather than relatives, since
            everything that you want to earn money on.                           friends have no emotional connection to the stuff.)

     2 | July 2005                   For ongoing discussions of these topics, visit the Simple Living Café

SL0705.indd 2                                                                                                                             6/20/2005 1:09:19 PM
        (Continued from page 1)
         Provide an electrical source if you’re sell-   ings as your own entertainment fund and use         SIMPLE LIVING
          ing anything electric. Bring an extension      it for movies, dinners out, plays, and short

          cord outside with you so people don’t have     road trips. Have fun!                               Author: Janet Luhrs
                                                                                                             Chief Executive Officer:
          to traipse through your house or garage to         If you want to be more practical, garage        Kevin Donoghue
          check your appliances.                         sales just might provide the nest egg you
                                                                                                             President: Edward Hauck
                                                                                                             Publisher: Robert Kroening
         Bundle smaller items—especially clothes.       need to start investing, if you cannot seem         Executive Editor:
                                                                                                             Kimberly Sue Day
          Since adult clothes don’t sell well at         to save or invest a dime.                           Subscriptions:
          garage sales, you can put a bunch of them
                                                             Here’s how the investment plan works. 
          in bags and sell each bag for $2.00. Make                                                          (888) 577-6160
                                                         Say you are 30 years old and earn $300 at           Subscription Price:
          sure the bags are sealed shut so you don’t                                                         $69.99/year in United States
                                                         your garage sale this year. You invest it into
          have people pawing through them.
                                                         an IRA and get an average return of 5–8 per-        Simple Living is published
         Put up an “ALL SALES FINAL” sign.              cent. You add another $300 every year—that’s
                                                                                                             monthly by Healthy
                                                                                                             Directions, LLC,
          Believe it or not, some people do try to       only $25 per month, so you have no excuses.         7811 Montrose Road,
                                                                                                             Potomac, MD 20854.
          bring stuff back!                              With compound interest, you’ll have around
                                                                                                             Periodicals postage paid
         Make a rule that nothing comes back            $35,000–$40,000 when you’re 60.                     at Rockville, MD and at
          in your house—unless it’s something                 Granted, this isn’t a load of money, but
                                                                                                             additional mailing offices.

          valuable that you can sell elsewhere. To       it’s money that grew pretty painlessly, and an      POSTMASTER:
                                                                                                             Send address changes
          make it really easy, schedule your sale        extra $40,000 is a decent pile of money, no         to: Simple Living P.O. Box
          for a Saturday so you can still get to         matter which way you look at it. Plus, would
                                                                                                             2040 Forrester Center, WV
          Goodwill or another charity on the day         you rather be 60 years old with an extra            U.S.A.
          of the garage sale to unload whatever          $40,000, or 60 without an extra $40,000?            CHANGE OF ADDRESS:
          didn’t sell. If the charity is closed, then    You’re going to be 60 either way.                   Send change of address to
          load up your car with the leftovers to be
                                                                                                             Copyright 2005 by Healthy
          taken away the next business day.              Garage Sale Alternatives                            Directions, LLC. All rights
                                                                                                             reserved. Contents may not
          Another option is to leave the items on            If you’d rather not spend your time host-       be reproduced in whole or
          the sidewalk and put up a FREE sign. I do      ing a garage sale, you can still donate your        in part without publisher’s
                                                                                                             written permission.
          this a lot without garage sales. I just put    stuff—you just won’t do as well financially.        (ISSN 1547-8882)
                                                                                                             USPS 018033
          free stuff outside on the sidewalk, and I’m    Say your donations have a fair market value
          always amazed at how fast it disappears.       of $100. If you itemize your taxes and are in
         Know that garage sale fanatics will show       the average 15 percent tax bracket, you’ll only
          up at least an hour early. I’ve made some      net a $15.00 savings on your taxes.
          good sales to these early birds, but if you         Garage sales are also not the answer for
          don’t want the hassle, put up a sign the       you if your stuff is more valuable, such as nice
          night before: “Garage sale opens at 9:00       furniture, antiques, jewelry, heirlooms, and
          a.m. All items will be sold at a 50 percent    so forth—pretty much anything over $75.00.
          mark-up to buyers who come before 9:00.”       That’s because the average garage sale buyer
                                                         is after shamelessly-cheap deals. They are pre-
        A Little Extra Cash Never Hurt                   pared to pay very little for anything. You’ll do
            Garage sales are also the perfect way to     better by listing your more valuable items on
        earn a little extra pocket money that you        sites like and ebay.
        can blow without guilt. You can earn pretty
                                                     has a list in most major cit-
        decent pocket change—up to $300 or more.
                                                         ies, and is a free service where people can list
            If you do get together with a few neigh-     everything from bathtubs to jobs. I recently
        bors or your whole street and host a com-        sold an antique oak table on craigslist and
        bined garage sale, then you can then spend       made $250.00. It cost me nothing to post. If
        the proceeds on a really fun neighborhood        you do decide to have a garage sale, you can list
        party—tequila and Mariachi bands aren’t          your sale there, too.
        cheap, after all! Or you can keep your earn-

            For recipes, back issues, and the Simple Living Café log on to                    July 2005        | 3

SL0705.indd 3                                                                                                               6/20/2005 1:09:20 PM
            Craigslist is where I go first to sell my bigger or more        Finally, she added, “We seem to be awfully busy
        valuable items. If I don’t get a bite there, then I go to       here in the U.S. But at the end of our lives, have we
        ebay. If that doesn’t produce my buyer, I’ll try listing an     really achieved more than the simple farmer, and will we
        ad in my local daily newspaper classified ads, or I’ll try      remember we bought 12 pairs of pants instead of 2?”
        consignment stores in my neighborhood.
                                                                            My guess is we won’t remember how many pairs of
                                                                        pants we bought at the end of our lives, and we won’t
        The Bigger Lesson                                               give a hoot. Instead, most people seem to reflect on
            You might earn around $300 on your garage sale,             what kind of human beings they were—what kind of
        but how much did you spend to buy all of this stuff in          friend, parent, child, neighbor, or community leader.
        the first place? If you figure you get about one-fourth         They remember their passions, and they remember the
        of the cost of the original, then you probably spent            people and causes they helped.
        around $1,200 or more.
            Garage sales can be great fun, but what I’d really like     Back to Your Pile
        you to do is get to the point where you no longer have              Since my blow-out garage sale in my 20s, I’ve hosted
        enough stuff to sell at a garage sale. You can do that by       only a couple of small garage sales, and then stopped.
        fine-tuning your level of discernment—choosing only             There are two reasons for this. First, as I’ve gotten more
        a very select few things that you will allow to cross the       aware of what I’m doing as I shop, I buy fewer things. I
        threshold of your life.                                         ask myself if I really need or love the thing I’m about
                                                                        to buy, and then I ask myself what I’ll do with it, and
            Trust me on this. You will save yourself an incredible
                                                                        where I’ll put it. I’ll also question whether I want to take
        amount of time, money, stress, and hassle by learning
                                                                        care of whatever it is. I still buy things, and I still buy
        to get off of autopilot shopping. That’s because each
                                                                        some things just for the fun and pleasure of it—shoes,
        shopping trip—no matter how small—takes at the very
                                                                        for example!—but I am so much more discerning that I
        least 30 to 45 minutes, including travel time. Multiply
                                                                        now have less and less to toss, sell, or give away.
        this by all of the shopping trips you make each day and
        week, and you’ve spent a huge chunk of precious time.               Second, I purge my unused things regularly, so my
        If you shop more carefully, you could save yourself at          piles never get large enough for a garage sale. I simply
        least three or more hours a week. Plus, every item you          take them to my favorite donation store, which sup-
        bring into your life requires a lot of your time to care for,   ports unwanted animals, and get my donation receipt
        rearrange, dust, and repair. Think you have no time to          for a tax write-off. If the item is more expensive, I’ll sell
        relax? I just found some for you!                               it on
             So take a close look at all of the stuff you are trying
        to sell or give away—everything that you no longer use                            Final Thoughts
        or want—and estimate what you’ve spent on it in terms               Before you haul all of your stuff out to the curb for
        of time and money. Eye-opening, isn’t it?                       your garage sale, I’d really like you to stop and take a
                                                                        close, close look at everything. Take a mental note of
             My friend Helen Sherpa has lived in Nepal and the
                                                                        where your time and life have gone in order to accumu-
        U.S. She once told me an especially poignant lesson that
                                                                        late these things. Then ask yourself if this is how you
        I’ll never forget. “In Nepal,” she said, “We have need-
                                                                        want to continue spending your time and money in the
        based shopping. It never occurs to people to buy products
                                                                        future. If you’d like to change course, then after your sale,
        they don’t need, because there is no advertising, no sales,
                                                                        start fresh by shopping only with a very careful eye.
        no junk mail, and no credit cards. Also in Nepal, because
        people walk to the neighborhood store, they buy only
        what they can carry home, and then make do.”
            Helen says our lack of connection with the person
        who made the item encourages waste. “In Nepal,” she
        says, “You have a tailor repair your garment. In the
        West, we have no idea who made our things, so it’s easy
        to give it all to charity—out of sight, out of mind, and,
        as a result, we generate huge quantities of waste.”

     4 | July 2005               For ongoing discussions of these topics, visit the Simple Living Café

SL0705.indd 4                                                                                                                 6/20/2005 1:09:21 PM
                 Shamelessly Cheap Travel Deals
             id summer come around so quickly you            They are not good for last-minute deals.
             were caught off guard with no vacation          I’ve tried several times to get last-minute
             plans? Never fear. You can still pack           help from them and the conversation
        your bags and get good last-minute deals.            goes something like this:
        Here’s how:                                          Janet: “Hi there. Here it is June (or
        ✔ Find the latest deals by subscribing to            December or some other crowded time)
           free e-newsletters from airlines, tour            already, and I’d like to find a good deal
           operators, and third party sites, like www.       to go somewhere on vacation. I’m flexible
 ,,             on the destination, but I’m really trying
           and These third                to find out where the best deals are right
           party sites collect information about all         now. Can you help me?”                          “Don’t listen
           the sales that are going on everywhere,           Travel agent: “Well, you probably won’t be      to your average
           so you don’t have to search yourself. All         able to get a good deal now because this
           of them will send the latest and best
                                                                                                             travel agent.
                                                             is peak season and everyone is traveling        They are good
           deals in their free e-letters. The airlines       again—almost back to pre-9/11 numbers.”
           send out their sale prices on Tuesdays, so                                                        for business
                                                             Janet: “Hmm. Well, do you know of any
           if you’re flexible and you see a good deal                                                        travel or for
                                                             destinations that might be a little better
           to a place you want to visit, you can be
                                                             of a deal right now—maybe some out of           helping you
           there by the weekend.                                                                             plan a trip in
                                                             the way place where the dollar is down or
           How will you know if it’s a good deal you’re      something?”                                     advance. They
           getting? Pay attention and check around to                                                        are not good
                                                             Travel agent: “Where do you want to go?”
           see what average fares are to certain places.
                                                             Janet: “Anywhere I can find a good deal.”       for last-minute
           Then you’ll be ready with your suitcase
           when you do see a good deal.                      Travel agent: “Well, where do you want          deals.”
           To keep your inbox from overflowing with          to go?”
           all of these e-letters, set up a separate yahoo   Janet: “Uh, I’m flexible more or less and
           or hotmail account just for your travel           I’m just wondering if certain parts of the
           news. This way you won’t be bombarded             U.S. or certain parts of the world might
           with emails in your regular inbox, and            be a little cheaper right now.”
           when you know you’re going away, you’ve           Travel agent: “I can’t help you unless you
           got all of your information in one place.         tell me where you want to go.”
        ✔ Be flexible about where and when you               Janet: “Who’s on first?”
           want to go. If you simply must go to Venice ✔ Use out-of-the way airports. For exam-
           between August 2nd and 19th, you probably         ple, it’s often less expensive to fly into
           won’t get a good deal. But if you are open to     Midway than O’Hare, Newark instead of
           finding a place that has a sale going on for      JFK, Oakland instead of San Francisco, or
           one reason or another, and your dates are         Orange County rather than LAX. Most
           somewhat flexible, you can do much, much          of the major travel sites such as Orbitz or
           better. You’ll also do better by leaving on       Travelocity will allow you to search for air-
           a Saturday or midweek when the skies are          ports within 70 miles of your first choice.
           usually less crowded, and, thus, more likely
           to be discounted at the last minute.
                                                           ✔ Be willing to make more than one stop.
                                                             You’ll probably get a better airfare if
        ✔ Don’t listen to your average travel                you’re willing to make one or more stops,
           agent. They are good for business travel          or if you’re open to having an overnight
           or for helping you plan a trip in advance.        layover in between.

            For recipes, back issues, and the Simple Living Café log on to                 July 2005   | 5

SL0705.indd 5                                                                                                        6/20/2005 1:09:22 PM
        ✔ Stay in business hotels on weekends. They dis-
          count their rooms when the business travelers               Good Deals—Right Now
          go home on the weekend. You can find them by
          searching around business, convention center, or          Costa Rica
          downtown areas.                                             You can go to this beautiful country for seven
        ✔ Check out last-minute vacation rentals. These are         nights—including round-trip airfare from Miami, plus
          often privately-owned condos, cabins, and cottages        hotels, for $549 through
          and usually rent by the week, rather than by the
          night. Most owners would rather heavily discount          The Caribbean
          their place than have it sit empty.                         Summer is considered “shoulder” season in the
          To find them, do a Google search (type in “vacation       Caribbean, because June 1st is the start of hurricane
          rental” and the city), call local real estate agents or   season. However, most hurricanes don’t start heat-
          tourist offices, or check online at          ing up until the end of August, so you can find some
          (vacation rentals by owner) or         great summer deals now. By the way, you usually have
                                                                    notice that a hurricane is coming, so you can move to
        ✔ Check out Web sites that specifically cater to            a safe place if one does show up while you are visiting
          last-minute travel. My favorite is         your island paradise.
          (owned by Travelocity). It works with over 4,000
          partners, and offers real time updates on the latest      Play Politics
          last-minute travel. You can book three hours to
                                                                      When I wrote this, the euro was getting battered
          14 days in advance. What you’ll often find is that        because of European Union politics. Your job as a
          you can get last-minute packages for the price of         sharp-eyed last minute traveler is to pay attention
          current airfare. If you’re ready to go tonight, you       to this kind of news and go while the going is good.
          can get really good deals because the hotels and          Euro down? Go to Paris. Canadian dollar down?
          airlines want to get rid of their surplus inventory.      Go to Banff.
          Here are two examples from from
          my hometown in Seattle, on June 3, 2005:                  The Asian Coast
          • London, England: London in the Lap of Luxury.             My travel advisors tell me that the best way to
               Hobnob with the nabobs, or just look like some-      support the Asian countries that were devastated
               one who does, as you peruse London’s posh            by the tsunami is to go there and spend your
               side. Includes round-trip flight from Seattle to     money. Check for deals to places like Thailand,
                                                                    Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, as well as other Asian
               London with a luxury hotel: Depart June 17th,
                                                                    countries, such as Vietnam. You’ll spend a few
               returning on the 19th for $1,334.00 per person,
                                                                    bucks on air, but once you get there, you can get
               including two night’s hotel, airfare, and all fees   really nice hotels, food, and domestic transporta-
               and taxes. Orbitz has this—flight only—start-        tion for a good price.
               ing at $1,092.00.
          • Los Cabos, Mexico: Desert on the Sea. At                Argentina
               the end of the Baja California Peninsula, dos          Argentina is also a good value now because their
               Cabos—San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San                 economy is weak. Our summer is their winter, but
               Lucas—unite for a singular seaside adventure.        in Buenos Aires, you’ll find temperatures that are
               Depart Seattle on June 17th, returning on the        similar to a typical Southern California winter—fairly
               19th from $617.00, includes flight, hotel, taxes,    mild. Look for good deals on air, hotel, and food.
               and fees. Expedia has this—flight only—to
                          Los Cabos starting at $610.30.
                                                                     Check out the “real deals” section, where you’ll
                           ✔ Budget Travel magazine (my              find loads of last-minute discounts and packages.
                             favorite for this kind of informa-      This site is updated daily, and includes offers that
                             tion) just launched a public Web        came in too late for publication of their printed
                            site—         magazine.

     6 | July 2005             For ongoing discussions of these topics, visit the Simple Living Café

SL0705.indd 6                                                                                                          6/20/2005 1:09:22 PM
        ✔ Go off the beaten path. Find the places                 if you’re willing to go a few miles away
          where the crowds aren’t congregating. For               or even to the next town, you can get
          instance, instead of the Mediterranean side             a much better deal.
          of Spain, go to the Atlantic seaboard side.           ✔ Be willing to take a red-eye flight. Most

          Go to Languedoc instead of Provence (less               people would much rather be in a com-
          known to Americans). Go to Southwest                    fortable bed overnight than sit crammed
          Crete instead of the Amalfi coast. Visit                into an airplane seat, but if you want a
          Ljubljana instead of Prague.                            good last-minute deal, you’ll get better
        ✔ Find secret gems for less. Again,                       ones by taking the overnight flights that
          Budget Travel’s job is to keep up on                    no one else wants.
          these deals. In their June/July 2005                  ✔ Be nice. I got this tip from travel expert
          issue, for instance, they’ll tell you how               John DiScala, the founder of www.
          to stay in Tuscany for $94.00 a night,        , who says that agents and
          rather than the usual $200.00.                          flight attendants can make or break
        ✔ Choose a hotel that is away from the                    your travel experience, so it pays to be
          main tourist area. If you want to go                    nice. He brings chocolates along on his
          to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, this                      trips and gives them to airline agents
          summer, you’ll pay top dollar if you                    who have been helpful to him.
          stay in a hotel right near the park. But,

        Ask Janet: Clear Your Brain’s Inbox

        Q         I recently got one of those “urgent”               Second, if you want to save yourself and
                  emails from a well-meaning friend,            your friends a huge amount of time, stop send-
                  announcing the following:                     ing, and even reading, bulk emails! You can
              “Starting June 1, 2005, all cell phone numbers    always tell which of your friends are the least
           will be made public to telemarketing firms. So       efficient by the amount of bulk email they send        Before
           this means as of June 1, your cell phone may         around—forwarding all sorts of inspirational         you forward
           start ringing off the hook with telemarketers, but   quotes, adorable photos, copies of speeches and      various bulk
           unlike your home phone, most of you pay for your     articles extolling a particular political point of   emails or cute
           incoming calls. These telemarketers will eat up      view, and the like.                                  pictures to
           your free minutes and end up costing you money                                                            friends and
           in the long run.”                                        Enough, already! If it’s you doing the           family, ask
                                                                forwarding, please stop. It’s great to keep in       yourself this:
            The email then gave a deadline when I had           touch with your friends, but if they mean that
        to call the national Do Not Call Registry, if I                                                              Would you
                                                                much to you, then send a personal email or           send these
        wanted to avoid paying charges for all of these
        soon-to-be-incoming telemarketing calls. Is this
                                                                make a phone call once in awhile. You’re not         things if you
        a hoax, or is it for real? —Kathy
                                                                only overwhelming your friends, but you are          had to put
                                                                wasting a huge amount of time fussing with           stamps on

                I looked into it, and found that this email     all of these emails. If you are someone who          them?
                is somewhat of an urban legend. I’m telling     says you don’t have enough free time, then
                 you about it for a couple of reasons.          here is one place where you can probably free
                                                                up a good hour or two a week or more.
            First, it’s always good to check with
        sites like or                     If you are on the receiving end of bulk to find out if certain emails            emails, tell your friends you love them, but
        you receive are urban legends. You’ll do your           you just don’t have time to read so much, and
        friends a huge favor by checking these things           ask that they send you only personal emails.
        out before passing them on, since we certainly
        don’t need more junk email to contend with!

            For recipes, back issues, and the Simple Living Café log on to                        July 2005   | 7

SL0705.indd 7                                                                                                               6/20/2005 1:09:23 PM
        Streamline Your Mental Clutter                                     Remember, it’s not just the time and addiction that
            Except for the occasional bulk email that catches          is important. You should also be enormously discern-
        my eye, I simply delete 99 percent of them before I            ing about what you let into your brain. Unlike material
        even open the email. It’s not only that I don’t want to        clutter, it’s not as easy to see what happens when you let
        take the time to read this much email, it’s also that I        too much mind clutter into your brain—but it’s equally
        like to streamline the amount of mental clutter that I         insidious, if not more so.
        allow into my already overloaded brain.                             A lot of adults these days are being told by the phar-
             In the past, I’d often open those inspirational emails    maceutical companies that they have adult A.D.D., but I
        and print them out, thinking I was going to do some-           seriously question this. Surely some people are afflicted, but
        thing with them—that the article or quote was somehow          most of us simply don’t know how to tune out all of the
        going to change my life. What happened? These copies           information, choices, and stimulation that come our way.
        simply added to my burgeoning pile of paper clutter, and       So start learning how to be discerning with your email.
        I’d always end up throwing them away—a total waste of
        time and printer ink. In the end, all it would do was add      Say Ta-Ta to Telemarketers
        to my stress, since I’d look at that pile of papers thinking        Now, back to your question about the cell phone
        I really should be doing something about each one.             registry email. The fact is, there is a grain of truth that
                                                                       you can act on. The part that’s true is, if you don’t want
            It’s not enough to just stop printing these things,
                                                                       to be bothered by telemarketers, you can and should get
        though. It’s just as important not to read them. Part of
                                                                       all of your telephone numbers off of these lists.
        the reason why we’re all so stressed and overwhelmed is
        because we are bombarded beyond belief with informa-               It’s also true that most major wireless phone provid-
        tion. Our brains are working overtime, constantly try-         ers have announced their plan to establish a 411 direc-
        ing to assimilate all that we take in.                         tory of customers’ cell phone numbers beginning in
                                                                       2006, but they say those numbers will only be available
        Can You Be Email Free?                                         with customer consent. Another safeguard for you is
            You also might want to consider setting “email free”       that, under FCC regulations, telemarketers are already
        days for yourself. Pick a day or a whole weekend when          prohibited from calling cell phone numbers using auto-
        you don’t turn on your computer. If that sounds scary,         mated dialers, which is how they make their calls.
        then you’re probably addicted to it. Eeek!                         What is not true is that some of the emails say you
            Judith Wright, author of There Must Be More Than           must call the Do Not Call Registry by a certain dead-
        This, calls this sort of thing a “soft addiction,” which she   line or forever lose your chance to do so. In fact, you can
        defines as anything that you get the heebie-jeebies over       call any time to get your number taken off the list.
        not doing. Other soft addictions include watching a lot of          If you haven’t already done so, it’s a very, very simple
        television, playing computer games, participating in chat      and fast process. Just call 888-382-1222 from the phone
        rooms, shopping, collecting, following celebrity news,         you want to register, and follow the prompts. It takes all
        endlessly checking sports stats, and so forth.                 of about one minute, and supposedly keeps your number
             As a life coach, Ms. Wright noticed that many of her      protected for five years. It will take 31 days for it to take
        clients weren’t getting anywhere in their lives because        full effect, and they’ll tell you that if a telemarketer calls
        they were wasting so much time on these soft addictions.       you after 31 days, you should get their name and phone
        Her clients would try to justify their behaviors by saying,    number and file a complaint at
        “After working hard, I need to escape,” or “It’s just harm-         That’s it! So while your friend’s email was mostly
        less fun,” or “Everyone does this,” and so forth.              accurate, I hope you’ve realized the bigger lesson. Only
             There are also endless studies which show that when       forward emails that are factual and necessary. The rest
        people are given a deadline, they are more efficient. So,      is simply superfluous mental clutter.
        if you tell yourself that you are not going to check email         Yours in simplicity,
        at least one day a week (or perhaps the whole weekend!),
        you’ll likely find that you get more done, feel calmer, and
        create more free time for yourself.
                                                                                                                   Service Code 50985E

     8 | July 2005               For ongoing discussions of these topics, visit the Simple Living Café

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