Personal Finance

Cleaning the clutter: opt out of direct mail

Tired of junk mail? There are steps you can take to cut down on some of it.
Tired of junk mail? There are steps you can take to cut down on some of it. The Kansas City Star

For many, the onset of autumn is as much a season of cleaning out the clutter as springtime. Before we burrow into our homes for the cold weather, we want to make space to get cozy. If you feel like a huge part of your countertop clutter comes from unwanted junk mail, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that the average American receives nearly 900 pieces of direct mail each year — which is about a tree and a half per person.

Here’s another fact that may surprise you: you can opt out of offers via mail, phone or email.

Direct mail

Opting out of credit and insurance offers can be done online at You will be prompted for an option of opting out for a five year freeze — which can be done electronically — or a permanent opt out. If you choose the permanent unsubscribe, you can start the process online but will need to complete it by mailing in your form.


It was only a matter of time before cell phone numbers became subject to telemarketers. It’s possible to get as many as five calls a day for some people. You can register your number on the Do Not Call list by visiting or by calling 1-888-382-1222. The results aren’t immediate, but over time you’ll notice a drop in call volume.


Our digital worlds aren’t exempt from the clutter. Again, you’re probably pretty used to the little red bubble telling you just how many emails you have yet to read. Instead of opening every item and unsubscribing, you can use a free unsubscriber service like Unsubscriber or Unroll that will do it for you (just be sure to read their privacy policies before allowing them access to your inbox). Or make it your goal to open and unsubscribe from five emails a day. You’ll be the owner of a (mostly) clean inbox in no time.

While I can’t guarantee a clutter-free fall, this may help make a dent in the paperwork, emails and calls that can get in the way of a productive day for you. And for the unwanted mail that’s left over . . . you could repurpose it as fuel for your autumn bonfires.

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit