EASY Way to Stop the Junk Mail!

First, the pretty, okay, cute picture (not sure why this is so washed out). With the Stock Show in town here in Denver, how about a horse painting, colt really – my little watercolor entitled “Clementine”:

Copyright Denise Bellon West

Now, down to business. I offered to take care of my in-laws’ junk mail for them last year. Big mistake; it was way too overwhelming. They get more junk mail every day than my husband and I get in one month! No exaggeration. A friend of mine was lamenting about all the junk mail she gets, so I shared with her my system.

Follow these nine easy steps, and with only a few minutes’ work a day you will have taken care of 98% (for me, anyway) of your junk mail – let’s call the nasty stuff JM.

1. This is the easiest step and will weed out most of your JM immediately. Open your JM as it comes in, and if it has a local phone number or a toll-free phone number, call them and ask them to remove your name from their mailing list. Don’t feel guilty – they’ll happily do that for you. At the same time, do Step 2.

2. Tell each place ALSO not to sell your name. I discovered, accidentally, that with some of these sneaky places, they’ll take your name off their list but will still sell your name. So ALWAYS ask that they also not sell your name. Some will say, “Oh, that’s the same thing,” but some say, “Oh, I’ll mark that, too.” They’re nasty.

3. Of the JM that’s left, if it has a postage-paid envelope or a stamp, send it right back to them with the little “donation coupon” that they sent you (the part that shows your name and address, the way it is in their records – sometimes that will be on the back of an envelope). Next to that, write, “Please remove this name from your mailing list. Thank you!” The phone-call way is always best, because it happens real time. This way you just have to hope that someone will actually do it.

4. The only JM left will be the junk that makes you put on your own postage. Either put your own stamp on there and do Step 3, or take an envelope from one of your JMs that already has a stamp on it (you’re just going to throw it away anyway, so you may as well use it) and use that envelope to tell the different outfit to remove your name from their mailing list. Just put a sticker over the wrong “To:” address, and write the new name on the sticker. You’ll feel good that you didn’t have to waste a perfectly good stamp. Make sure that you put only a minimal return address, if any, on there. Remember, they’re sneaky and bloodthirsty.

5. EVERY time you order something, by phone or online, ALWAYS make sure you tell them not to put your name on any mailing lists, including theirs. They’ll say, “Oh, sure, I can do that for you.” Or let them leave you on theirs, if you really love it.

6. EVERY time you receive a gift that was purchased from a catalog or online, call the place immediately and tell them to remove your name from their mailing list and to not sell your name. This is easy stuff, folks. You just have to learn to think like a junk mailer, who is hungry for your money. As my husband puts it, “They want to make your money their money.”

7. If it’s a company you like, call the Customer Service or Mail Order phone number and ask them to send you catalogs only in the fall, or some such thing. Some do not have that capability. You can also ask them to take you off their list completely, and then you call them when you want to see a new catalog. You’ll have it within a week (but don’t forget to do Step 6!). You’ll save a lot of money throughout the year if you don’t have those shiny, new catalogs coming at you and tempting you all the time! They do that for a reason, you know.

8. If you have a charity that you always want to donate to at the end of the year, you have to do two things. One: call them and ask if they can mail you their solicitation only once in the fall. Some don’t have the capability to do that. For those places, have them remove your name and not sell it, but keep their envelope or address in a “donation folder” that you will use at the end of the year. The second step is:

9. When you write your donation check to send them at the end of the year, or whenever you donate, black out your name and address on both your check and the donation “coupon.” That way, your name won’t get stuck on a million lists all over again! And they won’t feel obligated to spend the stamp and manpower it takes to send you a thank-you. You know they appreciate your donation.

Really, the first step should have been DON’T READ IT! They will suck you in and make you feel guilty or make you want the prize or whatever they’re offering. You can get other tips online.

You will happily have your life back if you follow these nine steps, and don’t ever get lazy about them. Shredding your junk mail will not be your full-time, part-time job ever again!