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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Here’s How to Opt Out of Basically Everything

From getting bombarded with online ads to going to your uncle’s funeral, you can get out of anything.

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Opt out of: Advertisers tracking you online

If you have the strange sensation that you’re being followed online, you’re not crazy. You are. Companies leave “cookies” on your web browser and collect data about you in order to sell you goods via customized ads. You can put a dent in those ads by going to the site of the Network Advertising Initiative, where you can opt out of those pesky advertisers. But note, it doesn’t mean you won’t continue to receive ads. You just won’t get ads from NAI members.

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Opt out of a: Social commitment

The simplest way: Don’t make the plan in the first place. “Stop making plans with people you don’t want to hang out with,” says If you have to show up to an event, “Set yourself a time limit.” But know this: If you do have to break a commitment, apologize, apologize, apologize. “Even if they know you’re lying, they’ll at least see that you cared enough to apologize to them. The words ‘I’m sorry’ can go a long way.” But these are 28 things you really need to stop apologizing for.

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iStock/Martin Dimitrov

Opt out of a: Group text

Are you held captive by the constant pinging of the group-text monster? Here’s how to slay it once and for all. If you have an iPhone, says, go to the group thread, click “details” and either hit “leave this conversation” or just “do not disturb.” The latter will keep you in the thread, but you’ll stop getting notified every time someone texts. If you’re an Android user, download an app called GroupXit that will silence certain message threads. If you’re in a group chat you don’t mind being in, make sure you’re following these group texting etiquette rules.

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Opt out of a: Car lease

Getting out of a car lease without losing your shirt is tough. So you’ll need to take matters into your own hands by transferring your lease to a third party. For a fee, companies such as Swapalease and Leasetrader will help facilitate such a deal. “It was outrageous what I would have had to pay: $10,000 to $15,000 just to pay off the lease,” Sharon Covington told But she found someone to take over her $550 monthly payments via and the whole transaction cost just $250. Find out how to outsmart any car salesperson.

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iStock/Rawpixel Ltd

Opt out of: Office parties

The dirty little secret about office parties is that many employees don’t want to attend. That said, you don’t want to look like Scrooge. So there are a few ways to make your colleagues realize you care. “Before the event, inquire about what you will miss,” suggests the New York Times. Afterward, corner someone and get all the gossip about what happened. If you really want to ingratiate yourself with your co-workers, do what J. Leslie McKeown, chief executive of Evna, an employee development company, does. “When Mr. McKeown knows that he can’t join an after-work party,” reports the Times, “he heads to the bar ahead of time and leaves money with the bartender to buy the first round of drinks. ‘People are so surprised by this gesture,’ he said. ‘The next day they treat me as if I’d been there myself.’”

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Opt out of: Getting junk mail

The Direct Marketing Association wants you to receive lots of junk mail. It’s good for their members who are hoping to sell you something. But if you don’t agree, they may be your best friend. Visit the DMA to stop some companies from sending you junk mail. It will only put a cease-and-desist junk mail order on the 3,600 companies it works with, but it’s a good start.

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Opt out of a: Date

Short of death—specifically, yours—any excuse for backing out of a date will be looked askance at. So, there’s really only one way out: honesty. But as Glamour reminds us, this way is fraught with peril and “reserved only for the most emotionally competent among us.” Glamour must assume that you’re a wuss, because they don’t suggest that you call, but instead write the following: “Hi there. So I know we’d said 8 p.m. tomorrow, but here’s the thing: I just, well, I just don’t think I’m ready to date at the moment. I think I thought I was, and you seemed absolutely lovely, and that helped convince me. But I’m not. All me, not you, as they say. Apologies again.” In other words, you’re just not that into them, but at least you said it nicely. Decide to opt in? These tips will at least help you avoid awkward first-date silences.

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Opt out of a: Funeral

Don’t be wracked with guilt if the thought of going to a funeral fills you with dread. Although there is a convincing case for always going to a funeral, has a nifty out: Offer any help or assistance that you can give outside of the funeral parlor. “Everything from the choosing of the casket, wake, floral arrangements, and reception takes a bit of planning and a significant amount of money,” says the site. “Offer to assist monetarily or in another way which shows your care and concern for the dearly departed.” If you decide to go after all, follow these 12 funeral etiquette tips everyone should know.

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Opt out of: Calls from telemarketers

If you’re tired of telemarketers interrupting your meal, put your phone number on the Federal Trade Commission’s “do not call” registry. After 31 days, telemarketers aren’t supposed to call you anymore, and you can file a complaint on the same website if they do. There are exceptions to the do not call list, such as calls from political organizations, charities, telephone surveyors, or companies with which a consumer has an existing business relationship. Here are the most effective ways to get rid of telemarketers for good.

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interviewDean Drobot/Shutterstock

Opt out of a: Job offer

Maybe you couldn’t negotiate a decent salary or just got an “off” feeling about the company culture. Turning down a job offer can be awkward, especially if you don’t want to burn any bridges in your industry. Adding just a little more than “thanks but no thanks” will let you turn it down gracefully. recommends this formula: Thank the hiring manager for their time and for the offer; give a reason you’re saying “no” (but be nice, not honest—maybe you’ve “decided that now is not the best time to leave your current position”); sign off by saying you hope to cross paths again. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Opt out of: All spam emails

Who has time to go through every email and hit “unsubscribe”? Not you, that’s for sure. Make it easy by enlisting the DMA again. By registering with its Email Preference Service, you can delete your name from companies’ lists with the click of a button. You might still get email blasts from local businesses, political parties, and alumni associations, but opting out of those is a lot less to swallow than the dozens of stores you’ve given your email address to. Learn the surprisingly easy way to delete yourself from the Internet.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.