In January, one of the things I did to simplify my life and curb my craving for new stuff was to let all my magazine subscriptions expire. I love me a good glossy, so while I knew it was probably a good move, I wasn’t convinced that I wouldn’t miss them.
But for the most part, I didn’t. Every now and then I’d be standing in the grocery store checkout line and see a magazine cover that intrigued me, but a quick flip-through while waiting my turn was usually enough to satisfy me.
Then, back in July, I got one of those “Your frequent flyer miles are about to expire – oh my god that would be the worst thing EVER, quick, order some magazines so it won’t all have been for nothing” notifications in the mail. And like the easily manipulated sucker I can be, I felt panicky and started scanning the list of available titles. Then I stopped myself, showed the letter to Ron, and he helped me regroup. We looked up all our various frequent flyer accounts to determine if we might be able to use the miles for actual travel. I have done very little traveling lately, so the amount of miles I was going to lose was not enough to buy us a ticket or score us a free rental car or hotel room, and the cost of transferring them to Ron’s account wasn’t worth the fee involved.
I could have just thrown the notification away and let the miles expire. But June had been a particularly brutal and depressing month. The thought of opening the mailbox and seeing something fun inside was really, really appealing. And they actually had some magazine titles they don’t usually have in the offers in they send me, so with only a twinge of “hmm…maybe I shouldn’t”, I checked off a bunch of boxes, and effectively used up almost all the miles. Then I went about my business and forgot about it.
Until a month later, when the magazines started to pour in. InStyle. Vogue. Lucky. Real Simple. Glamour. Conde Nast Traveler. People Style Watch. Entertainment Weekly. Sports Illustrated. Wine Spectator. As the issues started to pile up when the second month of deliveries started, I began to feel a little anxious.
But you know what? The work I’ve done around my relationship with my stuff this year is paying off, because I’m doing really well managing all my subscriptions. Unlike in the past, I’m not keeping several back issues – I’m only keeping the most current issue of every magazine -and when I’m done reading it, I tear out any pages that have something I want to remember (a particular article, recipe, or review of a product or book or movie I’m interested in), and then I either pass them on to a friend or recycle them. I’m taking the time to read each issue when it comes in, and not just skim it with the intention of reading it later.
Perhaps the biggest surprise though is that I am not finding myself overwhelmed with want when I read them. Looking through a fashion magazine in the past would leave me desperate with want for new things, and increase my desire to run to the mall and look for stuff I’d admired in the glossy pages. Now, I’ll sometimes see something I like, but it’s usually something I’ve already identified as an item I need or am looking to replace, so it just becomes part of my buying research.
It’s weird. It’s different. It’s…awesome.
Oh! And one other great thing happened – I’ve been getting a magazine called “Shop Smart” from Consumer Reports that I’d never heard of and didn’t order, but for some reason they are sending it to me. It’s similar to Consumer Reports, but seems to be geared more towards women (though not exclusively so). I LOOOOOOOVE it. It has a lot of great articles about how to save money, product reviews, how to get free stuff, and new and interesting products – everything from groceries to clothing to electronics to apps to download. I read it cover to cover, which is rare for me. I kind of think they’re pulling the old crack addict “the first hit is free” syndrome on me, but I do feel like I would not regret buying a subscription to it, because it really is proving to be useful.
I did do one thing to balance out the increase of magazines we’re now getting, though. Both Ron and I get tons and tons of credit card offers and insurance offers in the mail every day. And we immediately shred and recycle them. But I was reading on missminimalist.com about optoutprescreen.com, which allows you to electronically opt out of being sent those offers for five years. If you send them notification via mail, you can even opt out for life. I considered the mail option, but it’s about 9 billion degrees in our house this week because of the late summer heat, and I was too lethargic to do anything but click buttons, so I went with the electronic 5 year route. For the next five years, those companies will not be allowed to send me any of that kind of mail. It will be relief to not have to process it anymore!