Clutter: Piles of Junk Mail

Postal volumes have declined. The postal service is losing money hand over fist.


Outside of the holiday season, it seems like the only things we get in the mail are either bills or junk mail. When was the last time you received a personal letter from someone? Sure, you might see a postcard or two a couple of times a year… but a letter? You might as well say it out loud now: “never” – it’s a think of the past. As a society, we are even moving beyond phone calls and emails. Nowadays it’s messaging services and social media.


Yet the junk mail seems to pile up.


If your house is anything like ours, the mail seems to pile up. We check the mail, and maybe do a cursory scan for anything important. And then we set it on the counter with the intent to go back to it and sort it and dispose of things accordingly.


Why? Kids are screaming, dinner needs to be prepared. We need to do the quick check in on how everyone’s day has been. Household chores or the bedtime routine.


And there it is - a pile of mail. CLUTTER. It can wait, we’ll get back to it at some point.


Recently we’ve shared several posts about clutter. We’ve talked about digital clutter and email clutter. But today, we are reaching back in time and talking about the clutter of paper that litters your counter from time to time. Old school. It seems to pile up. Too much paper. Useless paper that we really don’t need or care about.


Clutter in all forms has an impact on us. As we discussed in our prior posts on other types of clutter – it raises our anxiety level. We get more stressed out when our lives are cluttered. Anytime we start to feel stressed it costs us emotionally, physically, and at times it can be a direct hit to our pocketbook.


What can we say on a personal finance website about clutter in the form of a pile of mail?


First, it is important that you sort out any mail that is directly related to your personal finances whether it be bills that you owe $ on, or updates on terms and conditions of your accounts. It’s important that you take a look at these things. And we’ll admit it here – there have been a couple times over the years that life has been so busy and we’ve overlooked a due date or two because a bill was sitting in the clutter pile of mail. It’s not a good feeling when you are eliminating the pile and you notice you missed a deadline by a few days.


When it comes to paying bills, it is very important that you pay on time. So if the cluttered mail pile gets in your way, it’s a cue that you need to do something about it.


Second, it’s miserable when you feel clutter piling up around you. For me, my quality of life is impacted by it. If I sit down to do some work at home and my desk is a mess, my first task is to clean my desk. I hate working on a messy desk.


What are some strategies to remember when it comes to your mail?

  1. Adopt a “one touch” policy. As soon as you pick up the mail, sort what needs to be sorted. If it’s junk that you can directly recycle, recycle it. If it’s junk mail that you need to shred, put it in the shred box (we shred things of a financial nature). If it’s a bill to pay, pay the bill.
  2. Just because some company takes the time to send you an advertisement, it doesn’t mean you need to spend a bunch of time thinking about it. If you didn’t ask for it, and you don’t need some product or service, just get rid of that mail.
  3. If you get a bill in the mail, don’t just set it back in the general pile of mail. Make sure you have a “system” to address/ pay what you need to pay on time. Late payments generally translate to late fees and more interest. This has a real impact on your budget, and it is under your control to avoid them.
  4. If you get a bill that you believe is in error or wrong, make sure you dispute it. Don’t wait, raise this on your priority list and take care of it.

When you work to eliminate clutter in your life – over the long haul all aspects of your life will benefit. It will help you feel less stressed, and you will find that you have a little more time to work towards your goals and spend time with the people you love. That is what is important in life.

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