Owning a home means there's lots of information you need to keep track of. It can get overwhelming, especially when you move to a new house in a new location. That's both good and bad. The bad part is you've got way more information to handle. The good news is you've got an opportunity to rethink your home management filing system.
Email will play a bigger role in managing this information. Large companies are jumping online but they honestly seem clueless about how to interact with their consumers. As a business owner who lives online, I was averaging about 300 emails a day before the move. This jumped to over 500 emails/day. After spending this week at the International Home Builder show in Las Vegas, it meant cleaning out more than 1,000 emails that I didn't handle this week – not fun!
Home Management Tips for Filtering Unwanted SPAM Email
Savvy Homeowner Tip #1 – Stop giving your personal email address out to anyone you don't want to build a relationship with. Create a second email address you can monitor if and when you chose, for any type of email. This will make it easier to automatically file emails when your Internet and email providers don't catch the spam.
Savvy Homeowner Tip #2 – Some companies pretend to let you control your email subscriptions by letting you unsubscribe. Never (NEVER) provide your complete email address when unsubscribing to unwanted emails.
And it's not just spammers. Toyota has sent more than 20 emails in two months, even though I've tried several times to unsubscribe. I'm now getting emails from Toyota in New Hampshire, Toyota in Phoenix and yesterday one from a Toyota dealer in California? Now it's time for some phone calls, plus a filter that blocks all emails from Toyota.
Reduce Email Traffic by Managing Your Email Profiles
Think about the companies you need to interact with as a homeowner. The list is growing as we add more electronics in our homes, and pay for services that we would have done ourselves 20 years ago. You can file emails from these companies in individual folders but that will take time to set up and monitor if you're auto filing. Another option is to file them by house address, which reduces the number of folders needed.
- Financial organizations – mortgage holder, town where you pay property taxes, house insurance and home warranty.
- Utility companies – electricity, water, heating fuel, trash pickup and security monitoring.
- Lifestyle companies – phone, Internet, cable, lawn/landscaping, pool, cleaning and caretaker services.
Savvy Homeowner Tip #3 – Make time to setup your account profiles with each of these companies, to reduce the number of emails they send you. The time spent up front will reduce your email traffic and make it easier to respond to important emails as you might ignore something and miss an important deadline.
Here's my Allstate insurance profile. Out of 12 options (more than I've seen anywhere), I unchecked all but one for late bill payment notifications. Of course there's a note that says “You'll still receive certain types of email communications, such as …, regardless of your preference setting.”
- Billing & payment notifications (5 options) – is important but only ONE. There's no reason for 5 different reminders – payment confirmations, late bill payment notifications, easy pay payment reminders, recurring credit card payment reminders and credit card payment expiration date reminder?
- Policy communications (3 options) – are for people who have time to spare for random policy communications. This paperwork should be reviewed periodically but how often do you have time when it arrives on their schedule?
- News, tips & announcements (4 options) – include eNewsletters, product offers, announcements and personal greetings. Allstate sent me a birthday greeting and reminder to check my drivers license expiration date but it's been on my calendar for at least 10 years.
Savvy Homeowner Tip #4 – Keep things simple with a minimum number of folders. When you're deciding on your folders, look at the big picture by considering what you'll need over 3 to 5 years. You'll save time by organizing your email folders the same way you keep your paperwork organized, to avoid confusion.
PS For more tips on managing your email, here is PC Magazine's article Get Organized: 11 Tips for Managing Email.