Weigh in on some long-standing arguments with my SO (shredding mail, unplugging appliances)

This is certainly not a big deal in my house, but big enough to make me puzzle over.

  1. My SO makes a habit of crossing out our name and address on any correspondence that comes to us. I have us on the do not mail list, so we don’t get much junk mail. But she’ll even black out something like a UPS label on a box that just says our name and address on it. Personally, I don’t know what a dumpster-diving identity thief is going to do with that. Now I do shred all of our bills and anything that has my name preprinted on it, like CC offers, but that’s it.

Is there some new ID theft trend that’s going on that requires just a name and address? Which I imagine the enterprising criminal could find out easily, anyway.

  1. On occasion when Hippy Jr. goes for a nap, there’s the annoying ritual of having to plug in the baby monitor into the wall behind the crib. My SO says it saves energy. I’m sure it does, but seriously, how much of power does a plugged-in baby monitor that’s turned off drain?

One of these could help shed light on the matter.

I have no experience with electricity consumption meters, though.

Re the bills you will not win this battle regardless of the power of your argument. It is not a hill you want to die on so let it go. People do nutty stuff. If this is as bad as it gets count yourself very lucky.

Re the baby monitor IIRC from my old Radio Shack days most audio only types use 300-500 milliamp power adapters at around 6 to 9 volts per send receive unit. So with two units it would typically be around (say) .5 amp to 1 amp of power draw at 9 volts at most (and probably much less in real world operation). I’ll let the EE mavens figure out what the cost is but I’d guess it’s going to be very miniscule.

I work with somebody whose husband burns everything with their address on it, “because of identity theft.” Hello, if somebody is going through your trash, they probably know where you live. Plus, you’re in the phone book.

You could run your baby monitor all year for a buck.
Math: assume monitor consumes 1W (generous). 1W * 24 * 365 = 8.760 kWH
Average national electricity cost is 12¢/kWH, so 8.76 * .12 = $1.03

As far as the privacy thing - it’s probably neurotic, but it certainly can’t hurt.

My SO has chosen the same hill to stand on - blacking out or shredding every label that comes in. Le sigh. Buy a shredder and let it go, I advise. Better safe than sorry.

My SO wants to shred everything, but has decided it’s too much work. So she saves it all and feels bad and stressed about it.


The baby monitor thing may actually not be such a bad idea. Not because of electricity, but we used to occasionally pick up our neighbor’s arguments on ours. (I guess we were using the same channel?) Loads of fun, it was!

I kept waiting for the day they were arguing over something we had said. . .

The label shredding or blacking out is a waste of time. Anybody can get your name and address if they try. Shredding stuff with account numbers is a good idea.

I won’t even argue for the baby monitor. It’s not a big deal.

My brother would pick up the neighbors knock out drag out fights from their baby monitor. Don’t forget anything you say around one can be pick up outside your home. The OP stated it would be turned off if plugged in and not being used so that’s not an issue.

Well, at least thats better than the SO having some dumb assed obsession that makes no sense and YOU are the one expected to do it, knowing darn well in your heart and mind that its a frickin waste of time :frowning:

Do you have a mailbox that locks? If not, then there isn’t much point in blacking out addresses after you open the mail. I’m sure an ID thief would rather glance at a letter in your box than dig through the trash.

Do you own your home? The thief could get your name from an online public records service without going to your home, much less your city. Your name and address isn’t much use by itself without also having other info like SSN, account number, credit cards, etc. Those are the ones that should be protected, not your address. Unless you are in hiding and don’t want to be found by someone, but that is a much bigger problem that ID theft.

But if she chooses to do it, that should be her choice. I agree that it’s a waste of time.

If you don’t plug something into the socket, won’t all the electricity leak out? (Just kidding!)
These things are the really crucial things in a marriage.

Which direction do the knives, forks, and spoons go when loading the dishwasher?

Do you use cold water or hot water to loosen the lid on a jar?

When do you stop for lunch on a road trip?

I thought we would fight over money and children. Nyah.

That’s a big reason why I got a divorce. Money and children were hardly ever an issue but it can get bad when you have two very stubborn people butting heads over stupid stuff. Can’t say I wouldn’t do it again though. That is what being stubborn is all about.

You don’t watch those Brinks Commercials very well do you. The evil guy is stalking the apartment buildings and he sees the pretty young thing take out the trash. Then he finds out which flat she lives in (there are hundreds of course). Then when the belle goes in, he picks the lock to the building and follows her up. And of course he smashes down her door so he can rape her.


She has Brinks and the alarm goes off and she is saved. Which of course leads me to wonder why he can pick the front door lock but not the lock to her flat. And why he bashes the door in when there are a hundred other apartments that certainly would hear that.


In apartments it might not be such a bad idea simply because if you live in a building with shady people they can see what you bought and break in to your house when you’re not at home.

If someone knows you’re getting gifts or meds in packages they are more apt to break in to see what’s in your flat. Not everyone lives in a nice safe place.

I shred anything with my name on it so I don’t have to separate out the chaff from useful things to shred. It’s not just my name, it’s the information attached to it. I pay my bills at the end of the month and anything left over gets shredded. There are recycle trolls in my neighborhood and they manage to scatter personal information in their search for the elusive beer can.

It’s a good habit to get into even if one gets carried away with it.

Wait… what? Cold water wouldn’t even work, would it? Isn’t the whole point that the hot water expands the metal jar lid more than the glass jar? Cold would just put it on there tighter, wouldn’t it? I mean, unless it’s stuck because of some goo, maybe.

Is hot tap water really going to expand metal? I thought the reason to use hot was because it will soften the dried jelly or whatever that has cemented the lid closed. Maybe it’s both?

if you use hot water and do it for just the amount of time and aim to heat just the lid and not the jar, it will cause the lid to expand slightly and this may aid in unsticking it. use hot water and get it to flow on just the threaded part of the lid and rotate, try to keep the flow off the glass.

either hot or cold water might dissolve dried food, though hot would be quicker. for this you would aim at the lid and jar joint.

  1. Crossing out names on mail is not going to do anything. Go to the library and ask for the “city directory”. All the names and addresses are in there. It’s compiled from lists provided by the post office. If you want to be off that list, you have to forgo using the P.O. forwarding forms.

  2. I would guess that a monitor that’s off uses no power. If it’s wired into the wall, then it’s hard to check, but if it plugs in then I recommend this tester Kill A Watt.
    Your SO will love you for giving her a new hobby. Check everything in the house. Fridge, TV, alarm clocks, phone chargers. In no time at all it will pay for itself. If not in power savings then in simple education and entertainment value.

I also shred anything that has my name or address on it.

I live in an apartment building, and all our waste paper goes into a single big container which anybody could search through. So a nosy neighbour could examine a stack of paper which has obviously been thrown in by a single person, and learn various things about that person, such as what newspapers and magazines they read, even if the more serious personal correspondence is all shredded. By making sure that none of my waste paper can be easily linked back to me, I give myself a little extra anonymity: the hypothetical nosy person may know that there exists a neighbour X who reads certain magazines and receives the employee newsletter for a certain company, but they don’t know that neighbour X is me.

Furthermore, I shred everything which even looks like business correspondence, even if it doesn’t have my name on it. The idea behind that is to a) make my stack of waste paper less informative, beyond merely preventing identity theft, and b) make sure that in the unlikely case that someone would go to the trouble of trying to piece the output of the shredder back together, they’ll have to sift through a lot of haystack before finding any needles. Also, since there is no way to know that a particular heap of shredded paper comes from me (because my name and address aren’t anywhere on the non-shredded paper which was thrown into the box at the same time), somebody who wanted to investigate me specifically wouldn’t know where to start.

It’s as much about foiling nosy kids as about preventing identity theft and other serious crimes. The above practices may seem a bit excessive to some, but it’s hardly any extra effort and I figure since I have that shredder anyway, I may as well try to maximize its effectiveness.