One definition of frugality is making the best use of the resources available. I have an abundance of junk mail, so I thought, How can I make junk mail useful? Here are some ideas from my brainstorming session:
1. Sign up for opt-out lists. (warning: if you do this, then you can’t do any of these other things)
2. Shred it to use as mulch.
3. Shred it to use as packaging material.
4. Tear it into strips and make paper mâché
5. Recycle it.
6. Clip out words and letters to use in a ransom note (or anonymous love note).
7. Harvest freebies. (My kids love the Disney stickers, I rarely buy address labels, and the best spatula I own came from a direct mail advertising package.)
8. Look through catalogs to find overpriced things I can make myself.
9. Put multiple mailings in a prepaid envelope and send it back to the company.
10. Use plastic “sample” credit cards as pot scrapers.
11. Cut out words and pictures to make a book for my child.
12. Scratch off the “scratch-off” contests, just in case.
13. Make paper footballs.
14. Make origami.
15. Read it.
16. Evaluate the sales tactics used in each letter.
17. Find typos. If feeling ornery, mark them in red ink and mail them back.
18. Use it for animal bedding at a farm.
19. Clip coupons from it.
20. Spread it on the table as protection from children’s art projects.
21. Use it as a canvas for those art projects.
22. Doodle in the margins.
23. Make a to-do list in the margins.
24. Use it to hold my place in books.
25. Cut out words and pictures to use in greeting cards.
26. Make a collage of things I’d like to own.
27. Tally up how much I would save by not buying those things.
28. Start a business card collection.
29. Start a postmark collection.
30. Use it as a placemat.
31. Use it as a makeshift drink coaster.
32. Estimate my credit rating based on the quality of my credit offers.
33. Cut out my address and use it as a return address label.
34. Use a different middle initial whenever I sign up for something; look for the initials to see who’s selling their lists.
35. Crumble it up to have “snowball” fights in warm weather.
36. Fill a box with it and put it in my trunk to weigh down the car during ice storms.
37. Use return envelopes for an envelope budgeting system.
38. Cover the address on return envelopes with a new address label, black out the barcode on the bottom, and send a letter to a friend.
39. Put grocery coupons inside a return envelope and write the shopping list on the outside.
40. Take advantage of good offers. (My husband and I have made more than $300 this year by signing up for new credit cards.)
41. Use paper for extra layers when house training a pet.
42. Be thankful my mailbox isn’t completely empty.
43. Use it to negotiate.
44. Keep magnetic ads and use them as backings for anything I want to stick on the fridge.
45. Cut it up to use as confetti.
46. Use it to wrap gifts.
47. Practice translating it to Spanish.
48. Use it to create a code to communicate with a friend. (With matching pieces of mail, number words or letters and write down the numbers in your communication.)
49. Burn it as kindling in my fireplace.
50. Throw it away.
While numbers 2 – 50 can be fun and bring a smile to your face, number 1 is the way most of us should go (unless you use the junk mail to get better prices) even if it means on missing out on all the fun.
Image courtesy of absolutwade