In another recent article here on Money Crashers, we offered some suggestions on how to opt out and get less junk mail coming to your house. You can even use websites like Catalog Choice to stop junk mail. I think the reasons for blocking junk mail are sound, and probably smart, except… well, I like junk mail.
I’m also the guy who likes to watch infomercials and listen to the full spiel of telemarketers when I have time. I have yet to participate in a telemarketer’s pitch or fall for an infomercial deal, but I still enjoy hearing what they have to say. Similarly, my dad has a hobby of trying to get telemarketers to hang up on him by asking all kinds of questions they can’t answer about the product. Maybe it’s one of those weird genetic things.
Anyway, in regards to junk mail, I really just enjoy opening envelopes and checking what’s inside. I get so little non-junk snail mail these days that finding a stack of letters in the mail box makes life more interesting. I open junk mail for two basic reasons: curiosity and the odd chance I might find a deal that is worthwhile.
One of the only exceptions to my interest in junk mail is any sort of sweepstakes designed to make me spend money, such as the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. When I was a kid, I used to open these letters up and spend all kinds of time going through each offer. I even stuck the little address stamps they included around my room. But now that I’m beyond the childhood sticker fascination, PCH goes directly into the trash.
I also can’t stand junk mail that catches your attention through the false pretense of bearing news of a serious problem. It comes in the form of a fake collection, late payment, overdraft, audit, or other legal notices. Opening this kind of junk mail is just a nerve wracking waste of time that, quite frankly, makes me a little angry.
However, there are four types of junk mail that I always open and read through.
1. Credit Card Offers
Many of you know that I am a fan of 0% introductory APR balance transfer credit cards, so junk mail from credit card companies is my favorite kind of junk mail. Of course, I rarely open a new credit card account these days, but I do enjoy seeing what the credit card companies are offering in terms of length of term and balance transfer fees.
Balance transfer credit card offers are not the only goodies to look out for. Sometimes credit cards offer sign-up bonuses and extra cash back on purchases in certain categories. If you are going to buy something anyway, and are able to pay the balance in full, why not get a little something back?
2. Bank Bonuses
I love to find a new bank account promotions and offers amongst our junk mail. I once earned close to $2,000 worth of bank bonuses in a year! These days, banks are offering some great incentives other than cash. I can get a free iPod touch just for opening a new account and setting up direct deposit? Sign me up!
While my years of 30+ bank accounts and hustling to schedule direct deposits are over, I still like to open at least one new checking account every year in order to get a nifty gadget or a little extra cash.
There are all kinds of free discount coupons in the stacks of junk mail that come to our house. I especially appreciate coupons for discounts on necessary automobile expenses like tires, oil changes, and car washes. Restaurant deals, clothing store markdowns, and haircut coupons can all be found in junk mail, as well. I’ll take advantage of any offer that will save me money as long as the purchases are in accordance with our budget.
4. Campaign Flyers
I even like political campaign mail. You probably think I’m nuts, and while that may be true, I am predominantly just curious. I like to see the candidates’ claims and analyze their marketing techniques. It is especially interesting to me when certain candidates don’t include party affiliation on their materials or send out brochures that must have cost a fortune.
Though these flyers clog your mailbox, you can use the annoyance as an opportunity to educate yourself. With very little effort you can make sure that when you go to the polls you have a feel for each candidate and what they stand for.
Opening junk mail is, at the very least, cheap entertainment. Once in a while I even find a deal that puts us ahead. However, as much as I enjoy the junk that comes in the form of snail mail, even I can’t stand spam e-mail. That stuff is just a rip off waiting to happen.
So take a second look before tossing out those flyers and credit card offers. You might find a little something worth your while. Just remember, if you decide to open that junk mail envelope, do not allow it to influence you to spend money you don’t have!
Do you take the time to sort through junk mail? What kind of deals or interesting information have you come across? Share your experiences in the comments below.