Until now, we’ve always had a permanent address – a key requirement for using the US Postal Service. Starting next month however, we move into our Airstream fulltime and our address becomes, well, less permanent. For now, we can forward our mail to a UPS store or get a P.O. Box (We prefer UPS stores because we get a real address). But what happens when we decide to become 100% mobile?
After a little research on the topic, we found there are a few really great services that will forward your mail wherever you roam. But since these are paid services, the last thing you want to do is forward junk mail to yourself. So, in preparation to our eventual life on the road, we’ve applied the same minimalist philosophy that helped us pare down our belongings to our mailbox. Here are the steps we took.
Before you begin your journey, start taking note of the mail you get. We started this process a year ago, but as long as you can watch your mail for a few months, you should be fine. The goal is to stop getting as much mail as you can. You want to either move mail online, or stop it altogether. This requires convincing companies to go paperless, a process that is often more difficult than it should be. Here are a few common company types that offer paperless billing and communication:
- Banks (checking accounts, savings, loans, and credit cards)
- Memberships (AAA, gyms, schools, community, etc)
- Retail Outlets
- Warranty offers and service agreements
If these organizations don’t have paperless, ask if you can simply not receive paper mailings from them.
Once you’ve moved all the major important mail sources to paperless only, it’s time to work on your defense strategy. Yes, junk mail has become such a problem that we need a defense strategy to combat it. Here’s a few things that have worked well for us:
- Get off the lists - there are lots of sites that help you remove your name from junk mail. We used DMAChoice.org and CatalogChoice.org to remove our name from mail, credit card, and catalog lists and noticed a huge reduction in junk sent to our mailbox.
- Don’t get on the lists – Be careful who you give your address to, and always look for “Please do not share my information” checkboxes when you do give your address out.
- Ask nicely – Often you can simply ask people or companies to not send you mail. But if that doesn’t work, just don’t give them your address when you change it.
- Get a fresh start – Finally, the most obvious thing to do when getting a new address is to be selective who you gets the new address.
But I’m still getting mail!
The steps above should help get rid of most junk mail you receive. There are a few additional steps you can take to really clean your name from the mass mailer lists. These sites go into great detail for scouring mailing lists, refusing mail and returning it to the sender.
- Excellent information on removing your name from mailing lists – http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/index.cfm
- More info on how to return junk mail and get yourself off any kind of marketing list – http://www.obviously.com/junkmail/
- You can also hire people to do this for you, but honestly, what better way to spend a rainy Saturday than opting out of mailing lists yourself?
Using these steps, we’ve drastically removed the paper mail we receive, but there are a few things that are either impractical or really difficult to switch to online only. Here are a few we have trouble with:
- Cards, Gifts, and Presents
- Tax information (getting better thanks to banks going online, but we still get a few things)
How about you? Is there mail you’re still receiving despite your best efforts? Do you have a trick for getting off of mailing lists that we didn’t list? We’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!