Scrap the Paper and Go Paperless

The accumulation of documents like bank statements, bills, receipts and more can cause unnecessary stress and paying bills by check can eat up a lot of your precious time. Fortunately, it’s easy to streamline your home office by going paperless and initiate an online bill-paying system. The payoff to this modification is vast. Below are some reasons to go paperless and how to achieve this new lifestyle.

What are the benefits of a paperless lifestyle?

• Be environmentally friendly and reduce the demand for paper and other natural resources. The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year. Almost 50% winds up unopened in the landfill. Fiserv, a financial services technology solutions company, estimates if every American household was paperless, it would reduce solid waste by more than 800,000 tons a year and save approximately 18.5 million trees.

• Deter theft. You don’t have to worry about sensitive information being stolen in your mailbox, home or office. Instead, your statements/invoices will be protected by a username and password and any additional security you have placed on your computer.

• Ability to access your information promptly. Digital files make it easy to audit and search information. An e-based online storage system keeps all your files in a single secure location and allows you to search for sensitive information with the click of your mouse. No more digging through paper files and folders.

• Spend less on paper checks. Paying your bills online can save you approximately $30 per year in the use of paper checks.

How to go paperless at home

Sometimes the undertaking of going paperless can be frustrating. Transitioning requires patience and commitment and your plan must be pertinent to your lifestyle. Review these strategies and choose the ones that work best for you.

• Opt out of junk mail. Reduce the amount of unnecessary mail you receive by opting out of junk mail and catalogs. There are many services that can help you manage the influx of mail.

• Sign up for E-Statements. Sign up to receive electronic bills and bank statements. You can do this on each company’s website. It may take a lot of time to set up your online accounts but you will immediately see a decrease of unwanted mail coming into your home.

• Pay your bills online. Most financial institutions offer online banking and the majority of utility, credit card and cable companies allow customers to view and pay bills online. You may even sign up for automatic bill payment plans for added convenience.

• Start purging and recycling. Once you have stopped receiving junk mail, signed up for e-statements, and your online banking, it is time to organizing your existing paperwork. As you begin this tedious task, keep in mind that it is estimated that we never look at 80% of the papers after seeing them for the first time. So, shred it or toss it. Keep in mind, papers you must keep include bills, tax records, investment information and of course any sentimental papers. This can be a long-term project so don’t get discouraged.

• Digitize your documents. Scan all the documents you need to keep and store them on an external hard drive on your computer for go “to the cloud” for extra security. This process will save space and reduce your clutter.

• Rethink your subscriptions. It might be a good time to cancel most of your subscriptions to help reduce the paper coming into the house. You might be able to get the same news online.

• Rethink your printing and use of unwarranted paper. Think twice before printing anything. Read documents on your tablet or laptop and if you need to share a document, use your email.

As I’ve said before it takes time to go paperless. But if you follow these recommendations it’s a solid plan. You will save time, money and you will reduce your environmental impact. It’s a win-win for everyone so say “Yes” to paperless.

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