Here’s a seldom considered way that you can save yourself both time and money: decrease the amount of junk mail that comes to your house. After all, you probably waste too much of your precious time every week sorting out the necessary mail from the crap anyway, right?
Two years ago the amount of mail that Mr. CMF and I were getting was completely ridiculous. We would literally go away for a week vacation and when we came back our neighbors would haul over a cardboard box of our mail that they had collected for us during the week. It was unbelievably crazy!
We were getting so much mail that we did not have time to go through it during the week and we would waste an hour or more just going through our mail on Saturday or Sunday. And the sad part: 90% of it was utter crap that we recycled/threw away (after ripping off the labels with our identifying information, since we shred anything that has our names or address on it). This was just a total waste of our time, not to mention the earth’s resources.
When we moved to a different state last year, I was hoping the amount of junk mail would decrease or that we would somehow be removed from certain mailing lists when we moved. Not so! That was when I started researching junk mail practices and realized that not only do retailers sell your name and address to interested parties, but so does the post office. So even though we stopped receiving ads and stuff for retailers in the area that we moved from, we started receiving ads from retailers in the area that we moved to.
What can you do about this? Well, unfortunately if you file a change of address with the post office it seems there is precious little that can be done about the local retailers (unless you call the local retailers up personally to request mailing list removal). However, there is actually a LOT that can be done to stop receiving most catalogs and credit card offers- which, when you think about it, are the two types of mail that it is most important to decrease if you are interested in improving your finances!
Think about it: when many of us receive a catalog, we often look through it (since companies that mail out catalogs are smart and only target parties who have ordered from similar retailers before, etc). What do you think the odds are that you are going to find something that you want to buy if you look through a catalog that you have already been pre-screened for as someone who may be interested? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that it’s probably higher than if you never received the catalog to begin with.
3 Easy Ways to Decrease Junk Mail
What can you do to stop catalogs coming to your house? There is a great website, www.catalogchoice.org, where you can sign up for an account, put in the names of the catalogs that you want to stop arriving in your mailbox, and the good folks at the site will take care of contacting the companies with requests for removal on your behalf. Once in a while there is a retailer that requires a few extra steps, but most of the time it’s as easy as that. You do have to put in the names of each catalog individually (you can’t just click a box that says you want to stop all catalogs coming to your house or anything like that), so this will probably take a while to stop all catalogs if that’s what you’re trying to do. I make it a habit of just going to that website and entering the info any time any catalog comes to our home. The other neat thing about the website: they show you over time exactly how many trees and how many pounds of greenhouse gas, solid waste, and how many gallons of water you have saved by stopping catalogs to your house. I have now saved 5 trees, which I think is really cool.
Stopping Credit Card Offers
To opt out of receiving credit card offers, the website that you need is www.optoutprescreen.com. On this website you can either choose to opt out of credit card and insurance offers for five years or permanently. The hubs and I have decided to opt out permanently, which required mailing in a form for each of us. We feel that this will help prevent identify theft as well as decrease our junk mail, since one of the ways that thieves can steal an identity is by getting ahold of a credit offer like this from your mailbox. However, if the offer is never printed to begin with, this cannot happen.
Stopping Direct Marketing Offers
If you are serious about decreasing junk mail, another website to check out is www.dmachoice.org. This website provided by the Direct Marketing Association can also help you decrease new catalog and magazine offers, as well as mailings from other national retailers.
Since we registered at these sites, the amount of junk mail that we receive has dropped dramatically. We now receive less than half the amount of mail that we used to receive (probably closer to about 40%). We know we are doing better since we now have time to go through the mail on a daily basis! It feels great to be able to save time, money, and natural resources by doing something easy like this.
Suggested Reading: While doing research for this post, I came across this cool book (Trash-to-Treasure Papermaking: Make Your Own Recycled Paper from Newspapers & Magazines, Can & Bottle Labels, Disgarded Gift Wrap, Old Phone Books, Junk Mail, Comic Books, and More) that teaches you how to make your own recycled paper, just using your own paper recycling (including your junk mail!) So neat! I can’t wait to try this- what a great way to repurpose the remaining junk mail and papers that we receive.
What do you think? Is your junk mail out of control like ours used to be?
Note: This post contains affiliate links.