Saving Expert: Cut Advertising, Not Trees, to Build Wealth and Happiness

Cut Advertising, Not Trees, to Build Wealth and Happiness

By Amy Suardi of

It’s good to be frugal, but it’s even better to be happy. In my reading about happiness as it relates to money, being content with what you have seems to be an important key.

I know: easier said than done. But there are ways to give yourself a hand.

Beware of Marketing

The entire point of advertising is to convince us that what we have is not enough. We are incomplete, the ads tell us, but we would be much happier if we only had THIS.

Advertising is everywhere — TV, cellphones, magazines, billboards, even coupons. One way to easily reduce it is to cancel catalogs and other “offers” that come in the mail.

Stop Catalogs

Start by visiting . Even though the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) represents the organizations that are sending out the junk mail in question (or “direct mail” as they call it), they want consumers to be happy.

Therefore they are offering us all sorts of choices for opting out. At their glossy website, you can cancel some or all direct mail, credit card offers, catalogs and magazine offers.

If you already have a relationship with a company, you will probably continue to receive their catalogs (even if you ordered one item a long time ago). To stop these too, the best solution is to contact the company directly and simply ask to be taken off the mailing list.

Toll-free 800 numbers are usually very easy to find, and many e-tailers offer live chat and email as a way of contacting them. If they ask why you don’t want the catalogs anymore, just say you don’t want to be wasteful and you’ll visit their website the next time you need something.

Reduce Spam has a new eMail Preference Service (eMPS). While participating will take you off the list only for companies that participate in the program, it’s better than nothing.

In the meantime, you can always unsubscribe from the promotional emails that you are already receiving (search for the tiny print at the bottom of the email).

If you want to stay updated on sales just in case, you could set up a separate email address and provide it to companies, while you reserve your personal email address for friends and family.

Opt Out of Email Marketing

Personally, I find that promotional emails — even from stores I like — creates unnecessary noise in my life. My experience has taught me that if I buy stuff when things are on sale — as opposed to when I really need something — I end up spending more. So I always unsubscribe when I start receiving emails from a retailer.

These days, there always seems to be some kind of promotion going on, so I don’t fear I’m missing out. If I don’t see a sale announced on the retailer’s home page when I’m ready to buy, I search for consumer-submitted coupon codes on sites like RetailMeNot .

Look Within

Without the temptations of advertising, I find I am more likely to shop on my schedule according to my needs, instead of being lured into “good deals” — which are never good deals when I was doing just fine without, thank you very much.

How do you keep marketing noise — and temptations — out of your life?

Amy Suardi writes about saving money & making life better at Frugal Mama.