Home Getting Your Mail

Mail as a Tail

You need to get your mail.  If you have a close relative who can do this, I advise against it: you will end up angry at each other and forwarding mail is not free.

The first step is to obtain a mail address.  I suggest a professional mail drop such as available from Family Motor Coach or Escapees.  I use Escapees (Say hello for me).

I recommend against Mail Boxes, Etc (The UPS Store) or similar facilities.  These are great for getting mail.  They are not so great for sending mail.  You are at the whim of the manager of the store you picked for forwarding service.  Escapees has the largest mail sorter available (larger than that of the city they are in).  Escapees has a professional staff on your payroll whose primary job is to get you your mail: they work for you.

Make sure you have something that looks like a real street address.  The US Postal Service hates mail drops and other private mailboxes.  They have attempted to force people to prefix the box number with the letters ‘PMB’.  They have lost this one for now.

Good:                                                          Not so good:
 Mr. George Hamlet                                    Mr. George Hamlet
                                                                      PMB 3456
155 Rainbow Drive #3456                        155 Rainbow Drive
 Livingston TX 77399-1055                       Livingston TX 77399-1055

Some companies will not deliver to a PBM or post office box.  Some merchants will not accept checks with a post office box address.  Some states will not permit you to have a post office box for a vehicle registration or licensing address.  Voter registration never permits a PO Box address.  Having an address that looks like an apartment eliminates these hassles.  See my USPS diatribe.

If you do things well, mail becomes much less critical than it does when you have a concrete foundation with a mailbox out front.

Process

Setting Up

You contract with the Mail Box service company and obtain an address that includes a box number and street address.

You send a deposit to the service.  Escapees has an optional automatic charge to your credit card -- if you are willing do this.

You fill out a USPS form that lets you know that the USPS is abdicating all future responsibility for your mail.  That is, the USPS will not honor the first class mail requirement of forwarding from your private box address after you cancel the box sometime in the future.  This means that the person buying the stamp is penalized because at one time you have had a private box.  At one point in history the cost of the first class stamp was the price difference between first and second-class postage.  Now you get second-class service at first-class prices.

You notify all friends and businesses with change-of-address cards your new address

Friends and businesses send you mail to your new address.

Receiving your mail

You determine where you will be in five days.

You determine the ZIP code of the local post office.

You call or email your service indicating where you want your mail sent:
Your Name
General Delivery
Local City, State  XXXXX-9999

Your service ships all current mail to that location.

You wait a few days

You go to the post office and pick up your mail.

The wait-a-few-days is critical.  Make sure you have the mail sent to someplace where you can wait for it or make sure it gets sent early enough for you to receive it.

You want to minimize mail.  I update all of my charge and bank accounts online.  I use Netbank for my checking.  You want to cancel unnecessary magazines.  Anything else you can think of, do.  As hard as I have tried, I still throw out more than half of the mail I receive – and I paid first class for all of the junk.  Strive to stay off mailing lists.

The mail service is required by law to send ALL of your mail.  Some services will accept special processing, like notification of special mail – but they cannot throw away junk mail.

Notes:

The US Post Office does not offer this service.

UPS and Fed-Ex cannot deliver to a USPS post office box.

UPS and Fed-Ex will not send to a hold address.

The US Post Office will hold your mail for 2 weeks and then return it to sender.

The US Post Office will permit you to use General Delivery to one post office for a limited time.

If you are at a friends house, you can give their address usually with a “c/o” line.

Processing Snail Mail

When my mail does arrive, it weighs about 7 pounds.  Of this, 4 pounds come from Morgan Stanley.  As often as I complain, they still send me their monthly tree.   One pound will be RV lifestyle magazines.   One pound will be junk mail.  One pound will be useful or personal.

I open the box at the post office where I received it.  I toss any junk mail after ripping off the name and address labels.

When I get home, I sort the mail into necessary, reading material, and Morgan Stanley/Junk.

Shredding

While on the road, shred any document with an account number or your address.  I prefer a crosscut shredder, as a strip shredder will easily leave account information in good enough shape to be re-taped.

I cut up credit cards and things that look like credit cards and make sure that the pieces are discarded in different receptacles.

I shred anything with my name, address, or account number on it.  Seeing the large number of shredders sold, this seems to becoming an acceptable and necessary process.

Filing

My filing is much reduced since I started examining my statements online.  I never file statements as these contain information I absolutely do not want anyone else to see.

Bills

I do not like anyone automatically withdrawing money from my checking account.  I do set it up the other way.  That is, I use the automatic bill-pay at my online bank to pay bills automatically.  This keeps the control over payments on my side.

Automatic payments for my cell phone, ISP, etc., I bill to a credit card.  This gives me dispute privileges if I need them.  When I log onto my bank page, it lists the bills that are due and how much I owe.

Safe Mail

Nothing in your RV is sacrosanct.  I have things that are critical sent to my daughter’s address.  She saves these until my next visit.  I then sort what needs to be retained and this is placed in a box for me.   Anything with a check, she deposits into my checking account and emails me the information.

Bottom Line

You do your entire bill paying online and ask to stop paper statements.

Set up automatic payments where you can.

You get an email address that your friends will use in place of sending you letters.

You get of all mailing lists.

You get a good mail service and be friends with them.

You shred anything that has an address or number on it.

When you have done this, mail becomes much less significant in your life and you find your life runs itself with little or no intervention.

Suggestions?  Questions?  Comments?  Push Home/eMail above.
Written:  2003          Updated:  March 13, 2005          Back To Top