Miss Moneybags

Decluttering: How To Get Rid Of Magazines Without Feeling Deprived

Because of my tweaker OCD brain, I have a tremendous problem managing paper clutter. Which is exacerbated by my love of magazines.

My love affair with magazines started in high school. I lived in a boring, backwards Arizona town without a bookstore. My favorite day every month was the day that my VOGUE subscription would arrive. I would savor each issue, reading about movies that would never come to my town, and looking at the advertisements for clothing brands that weren’t sold in my state. Because my parents limited my television viewing to one hour per day, magazines became the outlet for my aspirations of adulthood. During the hot summers I would spend hours in the local library, enjoying the air conditioning, and the glossy view of the outside world that the magazine rack provided. Magazines were an escape.

In college, magazines continued to define my life. Every Thursday I would pick up THE LA WEEKLY at Gorky’s brewery downtown, and over plates of pasta primavera, my room mate and I would comb the pages of THE WEEKLY with talmudic intensity for free events, circling our discoveries with colored pencils. Just reading about all the entertainment choices made us feel like cognoscenti of the L.A. scene. We were young and cool and in the big city, reading our free paper!

When I was a studio executive, reading magazines for potential movie ideas was a favorite perk of the job. My office was always stacked high with unread glossy publications. I looked forward to long plane rides for work because I could read magazines for hours straight without interruption or any guilt about wasting time.

Unfortunately, a magazine addiction is a horrible thing to bring home from the office. When I started working for myself, out of my house, ten years ago, my love of magazines immediately got out of hand.

When the magazines were at my office, I could claim that I was reading French ELLE DECOR for work and everyone was impressed that I could read in another language. Alas, when I switched to working out of my house, that same magazine just looked like clutter, and suddenly everyone realized that I was reading the french equivalent of MARTHA STEWART LIVING. Whoops.

Never mind the fact that when I was working at a studio, I was looking to find ideas for a slate of forty movies that already had distribution. As an independent producer with a small slate, I am never short on ideas, only cash, so the magazines became time-wasters, not story engines for screenplays.

My house was soon cluttered with magazines because I’d feel guilty about not reading the magazines, mad that I’d spent money on something I wasn’t using, and frustrated that I didn’t have time to enjoy my “magazine experience.” (If this line of thought sounds completely insane, it is. Congratulations to you for not having OCD).

It took several years, but I finally managed to whittle down my hard copy subscriptions to just one magazine, ReadyMade (that I read from start to finish in one sitting, making notes about what I want to remember in a separate notebook). If there’s not enough information in an issue of ReadyMade to save the entire magazine for later reference, I donate the magazine to my local Planned Parenthood waiting room. I read The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times online. I still read THE LA WEEKLY, but I do it at the radio station, so the paper never comes into my house. I still love looking at fashion and home decor magazines, but for those subscriptions I took a page from my high school self. Instead of subscribing to all those magazines, once a month I have a magazine date with myself at my local library magazine rack, where I sit in splendid air conditioned comfort, and read all my favorites. At the end of the year, I donate the $300 that I would have spent on magazine subscriptions to the library.

Do you have a favorite method of controlling paper clutter? Please share your genius in the comments section below!


  1. Joyce
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a bunch, you’ve just made me realize that I do, indeed, need to learn to cope with being OCD, which is something I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am not, I am not, I am not. Am, too, sigh.

    I share your frustration over unread magazines. I share your guilt about unread magazines. I LOVE my magazines, and that’s all there is to it, and from now on, I refuse to even THINK about apologetic about it, lol.
    A lot of my magazines get passed on to friends, so that’s good. The ones I save are for two reasons: Reading when I’m bored and desparate for reading material, and for finding images to use in my art journaling. That alone is a seriously good reason for hanging on to whole magazines, instead of just cutting out the article.

    I also suffer from lack of paper control. In other words, my stacks have stacks. Groan.

  2. Tracy Balazy
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    What a great idea, donating to the library the money you would have spent on magazine subscriptions! Bravo!!

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