Randy Dean's Timely Tips

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Timely Tips©: Volume 1, Issue 4; December, 2004 -- Credit Offers Roasting on an Open Fire

Dear friends,

'Tis the season for the final Timely Tips email for the year, and I wanted to share a fun little idea that fits nicely in with this time of year. If you are living in the northeastern part of the country right now, you know that it is really beginning to "feel a lot like Christmas". Last night here in East Lansing, it went below zero for the first time this season, and we are anticipating several inches of snow throughout the rest of the week.

Well, here is a simple holiday tip that will not only save you a bit of time, it will also help you keep your files in order, protect you from identity theft, and help keep you a bit warmer on these frosty cold nights. It is a remarkably simple tip, but it does work very nicely -- use your fireplace (indoor or outdoor) or woodburning stove to get rid of all of those credit card and other offers that you otherwise would be spending time shredding!

During most of the year, I typically build a shred pile of direct mail credit card offers and other direct mail pieces that need to be shredded to protect my identity. I shred the pile every few weeks, but I've found that the actual process of shredding takes more time than I would like, since most home shredders can only handle a few sheets of paper at a time. So, when I get close to fireplace season, I actually let the pile build up a bit, and then use my direct mail pile as the kindling to help start fires in my fireplace. It usually works quite well at getting the fire started, since most direct mail offers are enclosed in an envelope and have several pieces of paper inside -- it makes a perfect kindling.

I also use this system to help clean out my files each holiday season. Many people save their credit card slips from most purchases, ATM slips, old utility bills, old bank statements, etc. This stuff makes pretty good kindling too. Once I burn down my direct mail pile, I then start going to these personal files, and pulling any folders that have grown too big. I usually start with my credit card and bank statement files, and then work my way through the other files during the rest of the season. I pull any old receipts, ATM slips, bank statements, utility bills, etc. that I don't need any more because I have matching statements or newer statements. I take one folder at a time, pull anything I don't need anymore, and use that as kindling to start my next fire.

It is wonderfully peaceful having a warm and cozy fire in my family room this time of year -- it is even more peaceful knowing that at the same time I am getting my files in order and protecting my identity too. And I even find it a bit fun to think that that next "0% for 12 months" offer will warm up my chilly hands and toes, and help me make some tasty 'Smores' for my family and me. Too bad we can't burn telemarketing calls too!

Here's to a warm, peaceful, and direct mail free holiday season to all of you. Thank you for your support this year, and keep your eyes out for a new Timely Tips issue next year!


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