A while back, while checking out at a Williams-Sonoma (this place is my guilty pleasure – what can I say?), the cashier asked me if I wanted to sign up for their email list. I said “Sure!” and gave them an email address.
On the way out of the store, my wife chided me. “Don’t you always say on The Simple Dollar that it’s a bad idea to open yourself up to more advertisements?”
I smiled back at her and gave her a little wink.
In fact, whenever I’m asked for my email address at a store or a restaurant I might ever return to, I’m quite happy to give them my address.
Seem like a contradiction in terms?
Well, the truth is that I don’t give these stores my real email address – my personal one or my work one. Instead, I have a separate account that I use for just this purpose. That address has helped me out time and time again to save a few bucks here and there – and even better, I’m never tempted by ads that come in via email.
Here’s the game plan.
Sign Up For a Webmail Account
All you have to do to get rolling is sign up for a fresh new email account with one of the web-based email services. I find GMail to be the most convenient – but Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail work just as well for these purposes.
Choose a name you’ll easily remember. Your first name + “stuff” will probably be available, for example. If it’s not, try putting a very simple memorable number on the end. So, you might end up with something like “trentstuff2009” for your name.
The key is just picking something you won’t forget, because you’ll want to pull it up from memory fairly often.
Sign Up For Your Favorite Retailers’ Lists
From then on, whenever you’re at a retailer and they ask for your email address, give them this new address. The retailer will almost always begin mailing things to this address – sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly.
If you’re anxious to get started, most websites for such retailers have sign-up forms somewhere on the site that will get you on their mailing list.
Once you’ve done that, don’t worry about it. Everything is good to go.
The Next Time You’re About to Shop There Anyway…
… just sign in to that email account and search for the retailer you’re about to visit, then check the most recent two or three mailings. You’ll often find a few coupons and notices of any sales that are going on.
Since you’re not receiving this stuff in your normal inbox, you won’t be tempted to go chase “bargains.” However, you still get the advantage of coupons for your favorite retailers without having to dig through coupon sites (and the resultant popup ads and the like that such sites typically bring).