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Monthly Archive for June, 2007

10 Things you can do for Live Earth Day

Gidday,

I would like to share with you some simple ideas that you can personally use to help contribute to Live Earth on July 7th in your own home. These are tasks that only take a few minutes to accomplish. It was really hard to narrow it down to just 10, and I am sure you can think of a few more to add to the list. I would love to know what other ideas you came up with and what initiatives you may already be doing.

1. Opt Out of Postal Junk mail (sorry, but I have to mention this one!)
2. Plant a tree
3. Replace an incandescent bulb with a florescent bulb
4. Use a ceiling fan instead of the AC
5. Turn off your AC in peak hours
6. Turn down your hot water heater
7. Change your heating or AC by 1 or 2 degrees
8. Go on a family bike ride or hike instead of using the car
9. Turn your sprinkler system on at night or skip a day
10. Compost your perishable garbage instead of your garbage disposer which needs water

Bonus #11. Fill up your car gas tank and mow your lawn after 5pm, avoid gas fumes that are more harmful in the heat of the day.

I’d also like to mention that there are some great tools for you to figure out your personal impact on the environment. It’s really interesting and makes you think very hard about what you are really doing as opposed to what you think you are doing.

Calculate your household usage with American Forests Climate Change Calculator

Calculate your Carbon Usage using The Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Calculator

I also found a great set of ideas on Jason’s blog: Here Today, Green Tommorrow

Now go and make a difference…..

Cheerio,
Margot

Credit Card Offers

Gidday,

Do you have trouble with credit card solicitations coming to your home once or twice a week? A lot of our members have this problem, and there is now an free online service that can help you get rid of a majority of this type of unwanted postal junk mail.

You can use www.optoutprescreen.com to stop credit card and Insurance solicitations. OptOutPrescreen.com is a joint venture among Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Innovis Data Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC (collectively the “Consumer Credit Reporting Companies”). OptOutPrescreen.com is the only internet website authorized by Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion.

There are 2 methods for opting out of credit card and insurance offers. You can opt-out of receiving firm offers for 5 years using their online site or you can opt out permanently by using their mail in form. They also offer a 3rd option to opt-in to credit and insurance firm offers.

To fill in the online form you will be asked for your name, address, SSN and birth date (SSN and birth date are optional). Once you enter your information you will get a confirmation page that you can print for your records. Requests are completed within 5 business days but you should be aware that some credit and insurance companies may already have your information and be in the process of sending out an offer. It may take serveral months before you see a decrease in these offers.

You may also continue to receive offers from sources that do not use Consumer Credit Reporting Companies to compile their lists.

If you have an actual account with a bank or insurance company be sure and opt out of all offers whether by email or mail. Needless to say always read the fine print and check the boxes!

Cheerio,
Margot

TechStars Event and Boulder startups

Gidday,

I have just come back from a great run/hike in the foothills here in Boulder. It’s so inspiring and at some point along the way I always have to stop and admire the view. It’s amazing to think that you can be only 10minutes up the hills and feel like you are in the middle of the great Colorado Rockies!

But the other reason I really love Boulder is because we have available to us a great group of entrepreneurs, startup companies and opportunities right here in town. Everyone here has an idea or is thinking one up! I have a number of friends who have successful businesses in Boulder and most of them started out in their garages.

We attended the Techstars open event last night run by David Cohen, Funding Your startup. David is a great supporter of local Colorado businesses and he put together a group of experienced successful people for the event. Thanks David!

It was particularly enlightening to listen to the contrast in experiences from some of the panel , I was especially intrigued by Brad Feld from a venture Capital firm in Boulder and Kimbal Musk from a great local restaurant called The Kitchen which we love and eat at all the time. A fellow New Zealander works for Kimbal, Bryce Brown. Bryce also runs a great Boulder non-profit called Our Love of Children Foundation to promote kids healthy eating in schools. Kimbal also has another new venture, Medium which is a software company here in Boulder.

I found particularly interesting the observations made about whether to actually go for Venture capital or fund yourself. The panel did point out that most companies are predominantly successful on their own rather than using Angels, seed money or Venture capital.

If you do decide to go for the money I took away the following laundry list of what a venture capitalist is looking for in an interview:

1. You must believe in your idea and sell it in the first 15 mins
2. The VC must like you and want to work with you
3. Be yourself, was brilliant from Lisa Rutherford
4. Never look at a turn down as a negative, always take away something to improve upon for the next meeting
5. Practice, practice, practice!! Sound advice from Kimbal.

I think I walked away from the presentation with 2 very important items. Fund yourself if you can and in any way that you can. Don’t sell your company to just any Angle or venture capitalist, find someone who believes in you and your idea from the get go.

Thanks Again David,
Cheerio
Margot

How long does it take to stop postal junk mail?

Gidday,

You might think that because it is so easy for catalogers and Direct mailers to obtain our names and addresses that it must be just as easy and quick to be removed from a mailing list….. not so!

If I tell you that it takes 3-4 months to be completely removed from one mailing list, you might be shocked but it is true and there are 2 very good reasons why.

The first reason is that direct mail companies bulk mail their publications at least 3 months in advance and sometimes longer in holiday periods. The catalogs you get before Xmas are mailed in August and September. In fact we just finished the school year and I have already received 2 back to school catalogs! When you use stopthejunkmail to request a cataloger to take your name off their mailing list, they will do it immediately, but the back log of catalogs that have already been mailed to you will take another 3 months to clear from the postal system.

The second reason, is that removing your name using the DMA’s Mail Preference Service can take up to 4 months. Catalogers who subscribe(not all catalogers subscribe) to the DMA will receive the full MPS suppression list quarterly (January, April, July, October). The quarterly file is a complete file of all consumers who have registered with the service in the past 5 years and costs a direct mailer $560.

When you register with the DMA your name will be added to the MPS suppression list, the cost is $1 (included in our membership). Therefore, if you add your name to the list in January it may take as long as 4 months to be removed from a catalogers mailing list.

What happens if you order an item from a catalog again, it’s Fathers Day, back to school week, you have a camping trip coming up? Your name and address will be back on that mailing list. I had a member a few months back that told me all she did was order one item from a catalog for a Xmas present and now she receives nearly 30 catalogs a week!

If the direct mailer is a member of the DMA then you can be assured you will be removed on the next cycle. If the direct mailer is not a member of the DMA then you will start to receive catalogs all over again! Oh No!

But what about credit card solicitations you ask? You can opt out of Credit Card solicitations by stopping Experian, Equifax, Transunion and Innovis(a new one) and they will remove your name in 6-8 weeks.

To safely remove your name from most mailing lists it is best to stop the DMA, and stop every catalog or direct mail item you do not want when it comes to your mail box. After that is completed you should have successfully accomplished your task in about 6 months to a year from now depending upon how thorough you are!

So, what do you do now you have stopped your postal junk mail? My personal advice is to go shopping the old fashioned way…down to the Mall and local shopping centers. This way you are supporting your own local businesses and boosting your local sales tax which enables your town to expand a park, create bike paths, build a playground, build a Recreation Center or budget for more schools! Stop junk mail by shopping locally!

Food for Thought,
Margot

Stopping Junk Mail, What is your time worth?

Gidday,

How long do you spend a week going through postal junk mail?

Is your recycling bin nearly full at the end of the week?

Do you receive catalogs you have never ordered from?

How regularly do you or your family members get a credit card solicitation?

What can you do to get rid of your postal junk mail? Well, you can do it yourself but what is your time worth these days between running the kids to basketball practice, soccer games, baseball games, piano lessons, tutoring or gymnastics and your professional life?

I know as a mum I have a very packed week and all I want to do when I get the mail is see what is important and throw the rest out. Some of you have decided to do something about it. You start calling every company you received mail from, waiting and listening to phone music time after time, sometimes for over 15 mins at a time. Of course now it is a little easier, you can write an email but that’s only if you can find the right privacy or customer service email address on the website, which can also take 15-20 mins and that’s only if you actually find it!

On average you may spend 15 mins on each company and this doesn’t include the ones you have to mail to plus the cost of a stamp.

Do you think your time is worth $5 an hour? In most cases you would probably rate it more highly, but lets use $5 for this example. So lets say that every hour you can process 4-5 catalogs. If you receive 50 catalogs a week that’s about 10 hours per week or $50 of your time. Wow, and that’s per week! Can you afford 10 hours out of your week?

Of course your postal junk mail will reduce over time as you continue to opt out of postal junk mail. As you get the catalogs and call or email the companies, are you going to remember which ones you stopped and what account number was on the address label? Or did you stop it for yourself or your husband? Hmmmm… Maybe you should file each catalog address label and hunt through them each time. Add this time to the 10 hours you have just spent this week calling and emailing these direct mail companies.

With stopthejunkmail.com we are giving you a viable time saving service to help you manage this process.

We have a database full of privacy and customer service department addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses of catalog companies so you don’t have to waste your time searching the internet for the information.

We keep an order history on your personal account so you can look up the catalogs you stopped. If you keep receiving the same catalog you can match up the household member and account number to process a send stop.

Most importantly, along with your name and address being removed from mailings list we add that your personal information not be rented or sold which in turn protects your privacy and personal identity.

The choice is yours…… I look forward to hearing about your own personal experiences.

Cheerio for now,
Margot

New Web Site Launched for Subscribers

Gidday!

Today we launched a new logo and web site for you.

Junk Mail

Initial feed back was tremendous! I wish to thank all of our wonderful subscribers who responded with brilliant comments today and for their continued support. We couldn’t do this without you!

We have been working hard to redesign the site and to correct some features since March. We hope that you can more easily navigate and access your account(s) from anywhere on the site at a moments notice.

I would just like to make you aware of some key new features we added to the site. Firstly we added a more detailed approach to entering the Customer Number, Source code and Key Code from the address label on each publication you wish to opt out of. Secondly, we added some features to better communicate with you such as the RSS feed, Newsletter and blog.

There is also a new section for consumers who visit the site called How it Works. This section contains a demo so you may see what is inside the service before you join, you can search our extensive database of over 10,000 publications to test us out before joining, and we have made available in this section our own personal success story so you may reflect on how we started opting out of our own postal junk mail.

Overall we feel that our interface has made our service a better place to come and visit and we hope that you will visit as often as needed to eliminate your postal junk mail.

We would also like to invite you to comment and make suggestions for blog subjects. Do you have any specific questions for us that you think the rest of us would like to know the answer to? Do you have a friend or member of your family who has a question? We are here to help, even if you are not a member. Please use the Contact us section to make these suggestions. We will publish your questions and answer as best we can on our site at least once a week.

We are very excited to have the new site up and running and we realize you have a choice so thank you for your continued support! Please come back and visit us soon with your pile of publications!

Cheerio for now!
Margot