How do you deal with mail? Do you pile, file or just chuck everything, including an occasional bill or two? You may be missing some great deals and costing yourself extra time and anguish over lost items. We know, we've done it.
Having one person, the "Designated Postmaster," assume responsibility for the mail works best. Annette does a wonderful job as postmaster and has discovered that precision-sorting leads to efficiency, and efficiency de-stresses life.
Step 1: Trash Can Sort
Daily, mail in hand, Annette stands by the recycling bin and reviews every piece of mail, even bulk mail. She once threw away a bankcard that came in an unmarked envelope. This mistake cost her time. She had to call the bank and identify herself multiple times just to reorder the card. Real "junk mail" is tossed.
Step 2: Hot Stuff
She immediately places bills and items that require a response, such as party invitations, into the red "hot file" in our desk-top filing rack. The remainder of the mail goes into a pile on a kitchen counter, where it is dealt with every two to four weeks.
Step 3: Sorting and Filing Day
The filing process starts by laying the accumulated mail on our bed. Then the sorting begins. Annette makes the following piles and then moves the items to their "final resting place":
You may think this process very labor-intensive, but imagine doing this daily. Annette's filing process takes about one hour from start to finish. Beyond being a time-saver, having things sorted where they can be found saves money. When we want to go out on a date, we pull out the orange folder, find a two-for-one deal and go out the door. We save hundreds of dollars each year in dinner coupons alone. If a doctor or hospital overcharges us, having the original paper easy to locate can save us hundreds or thousands of dollars.
If an undesired magazine or catalog arrives in our mailbox, we call the company's toll-free number and request removal from their list. You can minimize unwanted junk mail by requesting removal from the Direct Marketing Association list.
Mail Preference Service
Attn: Dept. 10425817
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512
You can submit online, but it costs $5 for the "privilege" of saving a 41-cent stamp!
The end results are less junk mail to deal with on a daily basis and less junk mail in our landfills. Also, it lowers costs because we don't encourage companies to spend money on unwanted catalogs or mailings. And of course, it gives us more time to spend on things that really matter!
Steve and Annette Economides are authors of America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right On the Money (A New York Times Best Seller) published by Random House 2007. The also publish the HomeEconomiser newsletter six times each year. For more info and lots of free money saving ideas, visit www.AmericasCheapestFamily.com
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