1. Archive

Clutterless means calm

One benefit of de-cluttering is de-stressing. De-cluttering your life of time-wasting appliances is an easy way to reduce stress. Every appliance in your home requires a commitment of space, money, time and energy.

Allow yourself about two hours. Get several large cardboard boxes and walk through each room in your house. Touch each appliance and ask yourself whether it takes more energy or time to maintain and pay for it than it saves. Don't overlook broken appliances that you plan to have fixed someday.

You will find that unused appliances have accumulated for one of four reasons:

It was a gift.

Buyers often don't think about the lifestyle of the person for whom the gift is intended. And once the person receives the gift, it's easy to just keep it around. It may have been the gift of the year _ an electric toothbrush, back massager or doughnut maker. Or it may have been something the giver enjoys. I had this point reinforced recently when I surprised my mother with a videocassette recorder. In no uncertain terms, she told me that going to the movies with her senior-citizen discount is cheaper than renting a movie. She also prefers getting out of the house.

It is or was a status symbol.

Entertainment centers are a good example. Their contents often reflect a "greed more than need" philosophy _ speakers big enough for a disco, floor-to-ceiling TV screens, wet bars containing "bar quality" mixers and refrigerators. More than one of my clients has had to get a part-time job to pay for their state-of-the-art system.

It was cheap.

Years ago Andy Rooney, on 60 Minutes, added up how much money could be saved if someone took advantage of all of the sales in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. He figured savings would total about a quarter of a million dollars. Buying something just because it was cheap makes about that much sense.

It really would save time, money or be fun to use.

But it doesn't match your lifestyle. Be it a microwave oven, snow blower or compact disc player, it just isn't for you. An electric pencil sharpener doesn't make sense if you sharpen one pencil a year.

Finally, take your unused appliances to a second-hand store, charity dropoff center, place a want ad or save them for a garage sale.