Living with credit

Maximizing junk email for deals and steals

Julie Loffredi

Shoppers now can rarely leave a website or a store without being asked for an email address at checkout. While I cringe at volunteering for more emails, signing up for promotions from brands I use has helped me score some great travel, clothing and other deals.

With the right email strategy in place, you can sift through the clutter to find the treasure – the mailings that can save you whether you dip or swipe a card or pay with cash.

Here’s how:

Create a separate email for store sales pitches.
I hate when spam and junk email clog my inbox, so I created a separate email account for retail use only. Whenever I am asked to “sign up” for an email newsletter from a store or brand, I use only this designated account.

Using this email address helps me feel more in control of my information, and it keeps my main online inbox from getting overstuffed with sales pitches.

Tip: Use an email service that lets you create folders to sort and file promotional emails for easy organization. For instance, I have a category just for travel-related emails and another for store sales emails.

Know your rights as a consumer.
Just because you signed up for that email newsletter, you always have the right to end the relationship with a former favorite retailer or business.

Under the CAN-SPAM Act, all commercial messages must follow the following rules:

  • Tell recipients how to opt out of future emails.
  • Honor opt-out requests quickly.
  • Identify ads and never use false or misleading header information.

Tip: If you decide you no longer want to be getting emails from a company, look for the unsubscribe link (usually found at the bottom of the email). This usually halts any future communication almost immediately.

Sign up for travel deals ahead of your next trip
I always advise people considering a trip to sign up for email newsletters in advance from any hotel or attraction you would like to visit. (You can usually find this sign-up feature on the website.)

These newsletters will give you a heads-up on upcoming promotions or discounts, and that could potentially result in significant savings.

For example, I once scored a posh luxury hotel for about 60 percent off the typical nightly rate thanks to a last-minute special sent only to email subscribers.

To give you a window into my inbox, here are a few brands that sent me emails or alerts this past hour:

TripAdvisor: Automatically records my last search and gives me personalized emails of the latest hotel deals in that area.

InsureMyTrip: Provides the latest information on travel trends and security alerts.

Hopper: Gives alerts on drops in airfare to my favorite destinations.

Great Wolf Lodge: Offers deals for upcoming weekend stays at the water park.

Tip: Let email newsletters and alerts help with some of your homework ahead of your next vacation or business trip. And better yet, let the savings come to you, instead of always having to search for a bargain.

Track bargains, and shop smarter.
My friends know I am a huge fan of the clothing brand Lilly Pulitzer, but what they probably don’t know is that I’ve never bought anything full price.

What’s my secret? I wait until I get an email about their “after party sale” to buy Lilly Pulitzer clothes online. These emails come only twice a year, but with the early notice I get first dibs on the sale before word spreads.

One of my best deals: Because of that email, I scored a cashmere sweater for 50 percent off the original price.

Tips: Some strategies for shoppers:

  • Compare best holiday deals (such as Black Friday deals from different stores).
  • Wait to shop until you receive a coupon (patience required).
  • Wait to shop until a significant sale is announced (patience required).

Do some email housekeeping.
If you haven’t shopped at a store for years and are still getting those weekly emails from the company, click the unsubscribe button.

Tip: I make it a practice to clean up my email account every few months and unsubscribe or filter messages from those stores and companies that I no longer visit in store or online.

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