Friday, June 24, 2016

How to stop unwanted junk mail in three easy steps

Hello my friends! I hope you had a great week! We just got back from a great week away in North Carolina. Our son did the Duke basketball camp and we can't recommend it enough. It was a fantastic program and we'll be back next year for sure. 

It was so great to be away for a week -- my husband and I truly relaxed and just enjoyed not doing much of anything. Except eating, drinking and taking naps. :) 

Now we're back home and I'm refreshed and ready to tackle stuff at home again. I have a new energy about a lot of projects and my mind is swimming with things I want to get done. 

Today though, I'm talking about another aspect of the huge purge I completed weeks ago. My biggest nemesis when it comes to clutter has always been PAPER. Can I get an amen? It's the thorn in my side, the pain in my neck, the fly in my ointment:
how to stop paper from coming in the house

But you know what? Over the past couple of years I've mostly conquered it. Almost. Enough that I don't feel like it takes over our kitchen table and my car anymore. 

These are my tips on mail specifically -- when it comes to papers from school, good luck to you my friend. :) No really, I do try to handle that stuff immediately, and whatever we need to address hangs on the command center in the mud room. That process does work well for me. 

This is for those of you who want to try to control the paper and lessen what you bring into the house. These tips work and I promise your paper load will lighten if you try them yourself. I will address what I do after all of this in a future post. 

Step 1: Go electronic for bills

If you can go electronic -- do it. We have already with many companies, but still have a list to go.

I'm slowly going through the utilities, investment companies, bank statements and everything else we get on a monthly basis. I used to hesitate when it came to not getting a paper statement, but I'm slowly getting with the times. I realized, how often do we really look at them? Bank statements more so than anything else -- but I think it's far more secure to keep them virtual than on paper. (I know that can be argued but in general, yes.)

Also, it takes mere seconds to log on to see a specific statement. I used to keep them all in the file drawer and that took a lot more time to dig through. Most companies will gladly switch you over and I find it far easier to keep up with. And LESS MAIL. That is our goal folks!

Step 2: Unsubscribe from catalogs and junk mail

I looove a good catalog. They are my jam. But sometimes we grow out of them, I just don't care to get them anymore, or we get on a list we don't want to be on. If this is the case for you, try Catalog Choice. I've used it for years and it works. 

You have to create an account and then you can search literally hundreds of catalogs to unsubscribe. It's awesome and within a couple months they will stop coming to your door. 

I made the mistake of signing up for Restoration Hardware once…and if you get them you know that their catalogs are RIDIC. I feel like I kill a tree every time they send them out. This is a great option to lessen the load in your mailbox and in your house. 

Also, did you know you can opt out of all kinds of offers and junk mail? Many don't realize this but it helps lessen the paper you'll bring into your home tremendously. I use DMA Choice for many marketing mailings. Sign in and you can opt out of catalogs, credit offers and magazine offers.

Then you can go and unsubscribe from pretty much anything else at the National Do Not Mail list: 

As you can see, I don't want any of it (that I don't specifically ask for)! You can get pretty specific with this one too. Can you imagine not getting a million political mailers this fall? The dream may be realized. :)

Remember you'll need to do this for each of you in the home who get mail. Marketers focus primarily on women in the household so even if just the woman does it, it will help tremendously. 

Step 3: Get rid of it before you walk in the door

I keep three bins by our door in the garage -- one for recycling plastic and metal, one for paper recycling and one for shredding. My goal is to get rid of 90 percent of the mail before I even walk in the door. Sometimes it's 100 percent. ;) 

I use similar bins from the Container Store: 
Ours are white, not clear, and IKEA has nearly identical ones for a lot less. I like the ones with lids so they keep the items contained. 

When I keep up with this -- getting rid of most of it before I even walk in the house, the paper clutter is kept to a minimum. 

All of these tips work to bring you less mail and paper to begin with. You can tailor them to what you want and can alway go back and edit most of them if you change your mind. I can guarantee the paper you'll bring into your home will lessen within two to three months. And that is the first and most important step to getting control of it. 

Do you have any tips when it comes to mail? I'd love to hear them! 

Have a great weekend. :) 


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  2. Great post! I also have an issue with mail. I need to go paperless, but for some reason that scares me. I need to get over it. Here's my post about simplifying mail and also your purse!

  3. Thank you for cluing me in to Catalog Choice and DMA Choice. I didn't know they existed so I'll be contacting them asap. Why do catalog sellers seem to believe it's ok to share their customers' names and addresses with third parties, when they have not been given permission to do so??? A single catalog purchase usually triggers an avalanche of unsolicited junk mail that persists for YEARS. It's mail that was never asked for and is not wanted. The practice is so common and annoying that I've stopped ordering stuff from catalogs altogether. I now buy whatever I can't source locally from Amazon, which thus far appears to have the good sense to keep its customer lists confidential. Catalog companies ought to wake up and smell the coffee!

  4. Thank you for taking the time to share this!

  5. great post, thank you sarah! subscribing to magazines also gets you on junk mail lists, even if you specifically ask them not to share (sell?) your information.
    one concern about the bin in the garage: privacy. once that junk mail is picked up by the trashmen, you never know who might see it. its good to remove any personal information from discarded junk mail, especially the credit offers. better to be safe than sorry.

    1. I believe it about the junk mail! We don't put the junk mail in the trash -- we recycle paper and shred anything with our address or info on it. :)

  6. Great post. Definitely one of my biggest issues too.

  7. It's true! We all should be nature sensitive and act like more responsible person. Above mentioned 3 ideas are awesome to stop unnecessary stopage of paper. Sometimes it becomes really difficult to manage clutter in the house.

  8. I started a system a few years ago that has been incredibly impactful. I got a small (and pretty- so I don't mind it sitting on a shelf) file box. I made a few folders such as ads, current bills, shred, to file, and one for the kid's school. Each day I deal with all of the mail, either recycling or placing into one of these folders. When a bill comes in with confirmation that they received my last payment, I move the old bill to the shred folder. I shred once a week and file the "to file" folder once a month. This has dramatically cut down on paper clutter in our house!

  9. I still get the paper copies of bills & statements, but I have a home-based business so I still need a lot of the papers for tax documentation. Why should I have to use my paper and ink to print out the documentation? But, I've gotten smarter about retention. I have a "this year, last year, tax docs and need to save filing" system. The rest I am shredding after the tax returns are filed. And I get rid of excess paper asap. I have three small stacking buckets that I use - trash, recycle and shred.

    Re getting bills online - make sure you check your spam folder. My neighbor always had her credit card bill put in that bucket and had to pay late fees since she didn't see the bill. And, as you get older (like me), you may want to switch back to paper or make sure that your executors know your passwords to email and have a good checklist of emailed-bills. My sister/nieces would have no idea what I have outstanding if I don't leave a good trail. I was lucky in that both my Dad & Aunt left good trails for me to follow - Dad left me a binder of info.


  10. I've started to take the time to write "Return to Sender" on mail that I didn't ask for and putting it back in the mailbox. I don't know if those companies have stopped sending me mail yet, but I get a small bit of satisfaction knowing that now they get to take care of disposing of it and I don't have to. ;)


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