In my book, I encourage a few spends. One is one a private mailbox. Following are six reasons I’m a fan of these.
As with many of the strategies I present, some of these will seem crazy to people whose lives have been easy and stable. For those for whom my book is intended, though, such a strategy can prove key in the goal of financial stability.
1. It makes it much harder for dodgy people to steal your stuff. No mail in a box outside your home, no mail piling up just inside the door for burglars to enjoy. Victims of mail theft know the searing pain of losing income and/or identity. In my book, I tell my personal experience of this. One more layer of buffer between you and a thief is smart. The cost of a mailbox can pay for itself in the prevention of a single cheque’s theft!
2. Payments and bills don’t get lost with the roommate’s or landlord’s pile. In one home, no matter how clearly I identified a separate suite address, Canada Post delivered my mail through my landlord’s front door slot. The problem? My landlord rarely checked his mail, leaving it to stack up to a foot high at a time, then recycling the whole shebang. His credit rating was dismal, and his interest payments were sky-high. I wasn’t interested in a similar result. A private mailbox resolved this.
3. Mobility! In my book, I emphasize the benefits of the willingness and ability to move house regularly and/or quickly. One of the dozens of “tiny things” that add up to leave a person reluctant to move is the address change process. In my journey from poverty to sufficiency, moving was key. While I lived in at least six different homes over an eleven year period, my address remained consistent. Only when I moved to a new region did I finally change it. If a hundred-dollar per year strategy aids us in the mobility that saves us thousands per year, it’s a solid investment.
Also, if you might need to flee to a shelter, your documents are safe and your income still shows up.
Of course, a private mailbox is a boon for travelers too: no one needed to pick up your mail, reduced risk of theft, and the forwarding of critical pieces to your current location.
For me, keeping my primary address independent of my home has been very helpful in a variety of matters.
4. Unconventional living. For people living off the beaten path—in relatively rural areas, in RVs, or on the streets—a private mailbox is a consistent, simple, and assured point of contact. While Canada Post restricts its free mailboxes to those who can produce a local residential address, a private mailbox bypasses this requirement.
5. Sanctuary. Personally, I like having all income, bills, official documents, and notifications sent to a point away from my home. To function at its best, my “weird brain”, easily overstimulated, needs sanctuary. Having a stranger show up at my door daily to shove official documents into my personal space kills that sense. Having everything go to a box allows my home to be the sanctuary I need, and allows me to retrieve mail when I feel up for receiving, sorting, and dealing with it in one go.
Even people with typical brains often feel so overwhelmed by the constant influx of mail, they stop dealing with it on any sort of regular basis. They stack it up, hoping to get to it all “soon.” In the meantime, bill payment deadlines and rebate opportunities are missed. By directing all mail to an “away” box, you can choose a time each week to pick it up, make yourself a cup of tea, and deal with it in one go.
A private box also offers mental and physical sanctuary from junk mail and flyers; just let the box’s administrator know you only want your own mail.
Imagine coming home from a long day not to “more work” and more overwhelm, but to a clear, uncluttered space with nothing to organize. You can take that daily opportunity to rest and recover, while simultaneously setting aside one short period each week to process incomings.
6. You can mail yourself critical pieces of ID and/or documentation, then let it sit in the box until you need it. Although not as secure as a safe deposit box, if the latter is not affordable to you, or you cannot ensure the safety of a SDB key, or you need to ensure more flexible access to these, this strategy may help you out in an emergency. Check with your mailbox provider the degree of security offered, and assess this strategy accordingly.
A couple more thoughts…
Some people additionally use a mailing address to access services in their preferred community. Others consider this unethical. This will be for each individual to weigh and sort out.
In my last change of address, I moved from a Canada Post box to a UPS one. This is because UPS will forward batches of mail at the customer’s will, even sorting for just the pieces you want right now. (I’m also enjoying a relationship with my UPS store team in managing incoming and outgoing parcel deliveries, not all of which could my Canada Post outlet receive.)
All of this noted, a lot of banking, investment stuff, and so on requires that one also supply a “legal land address.” This is very irritating, especially when the legal land address does not have mail delivery service and the Big Businesses keep messing up and attempting to send there anyway. Provide your best go at a legal land address—your current residence, your stable brother’s address, your current campsite number, whatever—and then ensure your mailing address is correctly included in all official applications. It may take a few rounds of rejection and reminder for your Big Bank, for example, to start issuing the mail correctly, but once that’s straightened out, you’re all set for potentially decades to come!