Curbing Unwanted Snail Mail at Our Little House

Junk mail is the bane of anyone, but especially when you live in a small space.

We have to find a spot for anything that comes through the door of Our Little House and that includes mail.

I’ve recently written about our new mailbox, which is being painted this week and hung at The Belle Writer’s Studio, where the mail is sorted and either kept or shredded.

In the past four years, I’ve learned how to greatly reduce, and in some instances eliminate it all together.

This was a necessity, especially since I was the executor of my mother’s estate and all of her mail was forwarded to us after her death.

When my mother’s mail was forwarded to us, I even started receiving pre-approved credit offers for my father, who has been gone now for 30 years!

The most ironic piece of junk mail we received for him was a “pre-approved” offer for life insurance. I thought of calling the company and telling them I wanted to accept it and make a claim on the same day.

Seriously, if you want to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, here’s three tips that I guarantee will reduce it significantly within a period of 6 months or less:

 

  • Catalog Choice: My mother was the Queen of Catalog shopping and when she passed away, all of them started coming to Our Little House. Somehow, we also were placed on some of these lists. This is a great one stop website where you can opt out of receiving certain catalogs. I maintain “opt out” accounts for all of us through this website. Most companies will respect the request. Others will not. I find this is also an on-going process. Some may remove you for a time and then put you back on the list. Just this week, I had to update my opt out request for catalogs I know I had opted out of before, but it is well worth it and you will reduce the amount of catalogs you receive in about 3 months.
  • Direct Mail Choice: The Direct Mail Marketing Association maintains a list where you can opt out of pre-approved credit, insurance and most other offers. This was excellent for us, as we were also able to list both of my parents as deceased and we have effectively stopped all offers coming in their names.
  • Going paperless: As a pre-digital age child, going paperless was a process for me. It was hard for me to accept that I didn’t need actual paper bills or paper bank statements to do our budgeting each month. Once I got it on the computer though, it has not only lightened our paper load, it is so much faster and easier! I do feel I still need some paper statements that go with my business accounting back up, but in general, I now pay everything online. What do I need a copy of my bank statements for when my bank will maintain them for me and I balance our account online?

Using just these three tips, I’ve reduced the amount of mail we receive by snail mail each day by a good 90 percent.

Do you have any other tips on reducing unwanted mail?

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36 Responses

  1. SABLE says:

    In an effort to reduce the amount of junk mail solitiations my dad gets, my sister and I have taken some of those pieces and placed all of their trash back in their pre-paid envelope and with a big red marker leave a note to remove the name from their list. I know they hate having to pay for getting their own trash back.

  2. Frugal Kiwi says:

    One of the things I noticed when I moved to NZ was I just didn’t get the masses of junk mail here that I did in the States. I get a little, but comparatively, almost none, it is LOVELY! I’ve been here for going on 8 years now, so definitely long enough to get on lists. It just isn’t a junk mail nation.

    • Kerri says:

      I love that, Frugal, “Junk Mail Nation.” Yes, you’ve definitely been there long enough to get onto lists. We were on them before we even physically moved here!

  3. Heather L. says:

    This is a great reminder that getting on these opt-out lists is a continuous process. Now that credit card companies are back to sending out pre-approvals, our junk mail quotient has reached a very unpleasant level.

    • Kerri says:

      I believe you can opt out of pre-approved credit offers at the DMA website, Heather. I find these highly annoying as well.

  4. Merr says:

    Your post is timely for me, as I stare at a huge bag of paper to shred – all of which came from my mailbox!

  5. Very useful post. Several years ago I decided to rid my po box of all the mounds of unwanted mail that I was receiving each week. It took a lot of work calling everyone saying take me off your list. But listing the Direct Mail Marketing Association is a fab idea. Now my po box is relatively clutter free.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    I confess my desk is usually covered with a mountain of junk – and non-junk – mail. I’m not good about sorting and sifting as it comes in. I just toss it on the desk and deal with it about, uh, once a week. Or so.

  7. I’m completely old fashioned and still get paper bills and pay them with checks (in most cases). At least I’m not like my Grandma, who drove to each place and paid her bills in cash (phone, electric, etc.)

  8. This year I decided to go landlineless. I’ve noticed since I don’t have a local phone number attached to my name the amount of junk mail has gone down considerably.

  9. On a related note, if you go to the FTC website you can click to get on a DO NOT CALL list. I need to do that again, since I think it expires after a certain amount of time. At least unwanted calls don’t kill trees but I find them as annoying as unwanted mail.

  10. I’m really trying to switch over to paperless for my billing, but I struggle with this. I count on those bills each month to keep track. I fear that an email statement will get shuffled aside and I’ll forget to pay it!

    • Charity says:

      Set up a yahoo or gmail account and use it ONLY for bills. Put it on the real wall calender to check it on the 2nd and 17th or whatever. Otherwise, yeah I lost a lot of bills when I set up my paperless to send to my “real” email that everyone else on the planet uses. Also my bank has a program that THEY pay my bills when my check is direct deposited. Viva l’internet!

  11. Sheryl says:

    Thanks for a list of great tips. Did not know about Catalog Choice. I need that! Our mailbox overflows, especially during holiday season.

    • Kerri says:

      I know, Sheryl. Every year around the fall, even with my efforts, I think “Tis the season!” when I start getting catalogs from companies I’ve never heard of!

  12. I will try these things. I am also tempted to unpack all purchases at the store and leave them with the trash.

  13. Susan Johnston says:

    I use Catalog Choice, but I was stunned when one company actually sent me a letter saying they’d gotten my request, they’re sorry to see me go, they want me to know I can order online, etc. Ummm … the reason I opted out is I don’t want to get mail from you? Why does that require yet another piece of mail? But I guess they had a hard time letting go of someone on their mailing list.

    • Kerri says:

      Hmm, I don’t know what is worse, them ignoring your request all together or sending you another piece of mail!

  14. I also do most everything online now. I dispose of my junk stuff at the Post Office (we dont get mail to our homes in Tahoe)& I only use 1 can of trash every 3 weeks ..I am happier in my Tiny house than ever..At my last place my master bath was about the same size as my entire Tiny house, 355 sq feet !

    • Kerri says:

      Welcome to Living Large, Lynda! When we lived in the city, we had a po box, but it would be too inconvenient now that we live so far out in the country. 355 sq. ft. is a tiny house. I always think it is funny, as when I’m traveling for business and sometimes get comped for the hotel, we have suites 5 times the size of our house! 🙂

  15. sarah henry says:

    Great advice, Catalog Choice is great (though I still get mail at my house for tenants who haven’t lived here in 10-15 years.)

  16. Alexandra says:

    Good job! I opted out, but some catalogs still make it through. I mean, really! Why do companies think customers need a new catalog every month! I went through the same process with my mom’s mail when she passed away five years ago. Some letters still slip through.

    • Kerri says:

      It is a process when someone passes away, isn’t it? A very long one for us, 30 years for my dad! I do get some catalogs too, but just keep requesting they do not send them.

  17. Excellent tips! I did this a while ago, but my husband didn’t – the vast difference in junk mail between us (me: 0, him, at least 3-5 per day) is testament to its benefits.