Q: Mail, both junk and bills, seems to pile up quickly. How do I stay on top of it and keep it organized? I don’t want to just throw stuff away with my info into the trash because of identity theft.
A: Mail is such a pain in the ass. Seriously. There are a few things you can do to deal with it, though.
- Get a shredder. If you’re worried about identity theft, you need to shred your stuff. If that’s not in the budget, Google “[your area] community shred.” Places like banks, etc. often hold shredding days where you can bring them a big box of stuff and they’ll shred it on one of the big trucks as you watch. If you’re in the market for a home shredder, I use this shredder, which was on the pricey side, but has lasted years without burning out. I decided to invest after burning out three cheap shredders in two years.
- Automate your bills. Everything these days allows for paperless billing. Take as much advantage of this as you can. You might also find that setting up automatic payments is helpful for keeping your finances on track. Even if you don’t do automatic payments, having your bills emailed to you instead of mailed will greatly reduce the amount of mail coming into your house.
- No stacks. Once the mail is in your hand, deal with it. Either get the bill ready to be paid, shred the junk mail, or recycle the circulars and flyers. Stacks of mail tend to multiply.
- Opt out. If you’re in the U.S., cut your junk mail drastically down (including those pre-screened credit card offers):
(Both of these are links from the FTC website. I have used them both, but have no official endorsement or knowledge blah blah blah.)
Once you have systems in place for dealing with your mail and have taken steps to reduce the amount of mail coming in, handling your mail every day should be a matter of minutes, at most.
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