I have two email addresses. One is for school and friends (important things). The other is the one I use when I buy stuff. Any mail trying to sell me stuff ends up there. Sometimes I use my important stuff email for a charitable donation, and then get sort of annoyed when they send me emails that seem like they’re trying to sell me stuff. But for the most part it works.
The split email system allowed me to keep my important email inbox clean, but for a while it wasn’t saving me any money. My purchases email account is a hotmail account, and I used to click through every message before filing it away in a folder. I had a bunch of folders: bank, Groupon, etc. I’d click on the message so it marked as read, and then move it to a folder. And even though I was just clicking through to avoid having a billion unread emails in my folder, I’d still be swayed by the advertisements. I spent way too much money at Lands End, since it seemed like they were always having a sale. (If they were always having a sale, you’d think I would figure out that I didn’t need to buy something this week, because they’d have a sale next week. Nope.)
Side note: I love a clean email inbox. I stare, rudely, at people with a huge number of unread email messages. How can you function with 1,189 unread messages? How do you ever find what you need? I only keep emails in my inbox that are still actionable—things I’m waiting on (i.e., confirmation numbers for deliveries), and things I still need to do. Everything else is filed away, where I can find it with a simple search.
Back to my purchases email account: It was a good day for my bank account when I discovered the “mark as read” function in hotmail. Now I simply select all of the messages, unclick the ones that I might want to read—that tell me an online bill is due, or have tracking numbers for a package—and click the “mark as read” button. Boom, no unread messages. Then I click “move to Archive,” the single folder that I created. I replaced all of my particular folders with one big folder. It’s easy enough to search for “Groupon.” I was wasting a bunch of time filing messages in particular folders. The unwanted messages are moved to my Archive folder, and I just read the two or three interesting emails.
But this morning, I decided to go one step further. I’m just going to unsubscribe from most of the emails I get. I get emails from Toys’R’Us because I bought something off a baby registry, from Hanes.com because I bought Alan underwear online once, and from all sorts of fancy websites that I would never buy anything from. I’ll keep a few clothing stores for their occasional coupon codes. Hopefully this will simplify things. And in a few years, when I’m (hopefully!) gainfully employed, maybe I’ll re-sign up. Or not. I hate junk mail.