How to Save Money Using… Junk Mail?

Call it direct mail, junk mail, a waste of trees, or what you will: you shouldn’t just throw it away

Junk mail. Marketing experts love to sing its praises, and they have a special term for it: direct mail. Apparently it’s one of the most effective marketing methods ever — even though most of us sort through it over the trashcan, rarely giving it a second thought.

Well, stop that! Junk mail is valuable, just not in the way most marketers like to believe. Read on, and we’ll tell you why you need to hold onto it, and even open it occasionally.

Shredding for Savings

The concept that you can save money with junk mail seems counterintuitive, admittedly. After all, the whole idea of junk mail is to get you to spend money. Sometimes it even works, because those marketers are a savvy bunch. They want every bit of disposable income they can get from you.

But you really can save money with it, in a waste not, want not kind of way. Your first step is to run it through your shredder. You probably already have one anyway, if you take the time to shred your old paperwork and bills to avoid identity theft (as you certainly should).

If you don’t, a decent shredder will cost you less than $30. You might even get a better deal if you check the clearance racks, or you could pick one up at a garage sale for next to nothing and max out your frugality.

A Quick Note Before Shredding

Before you reduce your direct mail, open it up and pull out those glassine and plastic inserts. And look closely at what’s inside: occasionally, a marketer will attach a dollar bill or, sometimes, a higher denomination bill as a lure. Apparently, this tactic works like gangbusters for them.

So everyone once in a while, can directly save cash from the shredder. Not to mention that they’ll sometimes include a tchotchke you can use for something or other. Look before you shred!

On to the Actual Savings

There are lots of things you can use shredded direct mail (including sales papers) for. It makes great tinder for starting fires in your fireplace, for example. Plus, it’s excellent packing for postal packages (ironically). Better than crumpling up newspapers, which can leave ink all over everything.

Here’s a use we find appropriate: pet bedding for small animals. Shredded junk mail is light, absorbent, non-toxic, and easy to replace. Pet stores sell this stuff for up to $10 a gallon.

Finally, if you’re crafty, you can use shredded mail for papier mache, along with paste made from flour and water. Great for piñatas!

And there you have it. Remember, folks: even though it’s junk mail, for the savvy consumer it can still have some value!