June 7, 2011

Stop Junk Mail

One of the little things that gets me excited everyday is checking the mail. There's something about the unpredictability of it that never fails to intrigue me. Would this be the day that I would get a handwritten note from a long lost friend? Or a card or pictures from a family member?

However on most days, I'm instead not entirely surprised to get a pile of junk mail to sort through. It's actually become a chore to decide what to recycle, what to file away, and what to keep on our coffee table indefinitely then throw out later. More clutter, that's exactly what I need, not.

Did you know that 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened? And that Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of un-recycled junk mail? The best way to deal with the flow of junk mail is to stop it at the source.

There's a few classes of junk mail that I get and how I deal with them:

Newspaper like ads
These are local ads printed on news-print. Most of the time these are car ads or the like. I throw this out immediately. Once a week we get ads from grocery stores and drug stores. I check deals quickly, and throw away after a few days.

Coupon catalogs or packets
Mostly these are local businesses like roofers or restaurants that offer coupons with expiration dates of a month or so from the time of receipt. I hang on to these for about a month, then throw out after the coupons expire. We rarely use the coupons, something like once or twice a year. I should just throw away immediately, but so far I still keep them "just in case".

Credit card offers
These are the worst. We know we have all the credit cards we need, probably even more than we need. I did sign up to opt-out of credit card offers through optoutprescreen.com (which you can easily opt-out of mail offers for 5 years. To opt-out permanently you have to send them a form, I'm too lazy to do that.) However, we do have frequent mileage membership, and we used to get 3-4 offers per week for credit cards associated with the frequent flyer programs that we are a part of. I'm very particular about recycling the envelopes and anything that doesn't have our personal information on them. I tear out the parts with our address and any membership numbers and throw that in the trash. Finally I got tired of doing that almost everyday, so I called the card services people and asked to be taken off the list. Here are the numbers for your convenience. It takes 6-8 weeks for the mailings to stop, but I'm so glad I don't have to deal with the wasteful paperwork anymore.

Continental OnePass Card
Chase Privacy Department

Delta SkyMiles Card
American Express Privacy Department
9am to 9pm Monday-Friday

We also get catalogs from stores that we like, and some from stores we never even heard of. One way to stop the catalogs is to contact the company directly. You can also manage your catalogs through dmachoice.org.

In the age of the internet, I hope to increase my ratio of friends mail to junk mail. Hope this helps you reduce the junk mail in your life! Have more ideas on how to reduce junk mail? Leave a comment!

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