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Get Organized and More Efficient By Going Paperless

Published 11/29/07 (Modified 3/9/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

We're in the new millennium people! The internet age is already in full swing and I think it's time for everyone to start embracing the advantages of new technology. For important document archiving and preservation purposes, it's time to migrate from dinosaur paper technology and move into an all digital and electronic format.

If you don't know how to access all of your bank and credit card accounts online, now is a good time to start learning how to. There are so many benefits to going fully electronic. Storing and accessing your account information online gives you instant and accurate data at your finger tips without having to wait for them to arrive through snail mail. The information you can get online is always more accurate and precise, as they are frequently updated on the spot as transactions occur.

By going paperless you can also reduce clutter. Before I went electronic, my postal mailbox was always being jammed with bills, statements, and all sorts of financial junk mail. My desk frequently had stacks of papers that just seemed to grow higher and higher. Going digital helped to cut down on the chances of losing something important in the mail or accidentally misplacing it somewhere at home or at the office. However, embracing paperless storage does require a reasonable amount of trust and faith in the reliability of technology.

I Organize My Paperless Financial Accounts Using An Online Aggregation Service

For all of my credit cards, bank statements, utility bills, and miscellaneous payment obligations, I no longer receive any of them through the regular mail service, but instead access all of them exclusively through the internet. Online e-mail based reminders alert me whenever I need to make payments or when there is something that requires my attention. Since I check my personal e-mail fanatically, the e-mail alerts are essentially real time reminders.

I use Yodlee's Fidelity Full View to consolidate all of my financial information including my bank accounts, credit cards, investment portfolio, and frequent user reward accounts. It's also an invaluable online way to organize, view, and keep tabs on all of my important transactions.

I Use a Digital Scanner and Digital Camera To Make a Photocopy Of Important Paper Documents

For important paper documents that I'm not able to receive in its original digital form, I like to either use a digital scanner or a digital camera to photo record them into electronic format. Examples of such important paper documents include speeding tickets, identification cards, pay stubs, or sales receipts that I want to retain because I'm currently disputing a transaction for example. Rather than keeping these documents in binders or in huge piles, I keep them all neatly filed away in well labeled directories on my computer hard drive. They are there whenever I need them at a moment's notice and pulling them up is a piece of cake. As a precaution, I back up the files occasionally onto a separate external hard drive or burn them onto a compact disc for safe keeping.

Other Considerations Like Passwords, Security, and Encryption

By going fully digital, it's important to have a way to keep track of your important passwords and ensure that your information is always fully secure. I have many passwords, but I organize them all onto one of my secret Yahoo email accounts using the Yahoo Notepad function. I'm sure I might catch some heat from those who feel storing such important information on one's e-mail account is asking for trouble, but frankly, if my information is not fully secure with a mega company like Yahoo, would it really be any more secure with any other service?

We give out so much password information to various companies out there but at some point we need to trust that they will do their job to protect our confidential information. Most financial institutions fully encrypt their online website accounts so that shouldn't be an issue either. I have faith that technology will continue to improve and get even better over time. I also take additional precautions by not using one password for all of my accounts. All of my passwords vary greatly from each other.

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4 Responses to “Get Organized and More Efficient By Going Paperless” 

  1. Shimon Sofer says:

    I am one of the 42Tags developers and I would like to comment on
    the second part "I Use a Digital Scanner and Digital Camera...".

    I think that folders are a bad idea, I have started like you with folders saving
    the scanned images but when the time comes (half year+) it is started to mess up. The main problem is that every file is under one folder hierarchy and when things get complicated you got multiple choices for putting a new file (for example : You have a directory 'Finance' and directory 'Home', and after that you want to archine a document 'home mortgage' and you don't know where to put it or later where to search it).

    Another problem is the lack of support in multipage, I have started scanning page by page with awkward naming "manual_p1.jpg", etc..

    This is the reason I have started developing 42tags a small yet sophisticated sw which does exactly what you are talking about - enable the digitization of papers. The main idea behind it is that you will not folder���� your scans like in win-explorer but tag it using one or more tags so you can later find it easly
    in any of the tags. multipage is also trivial there.

    But the way the cost is 50$, and if you will answer some survey it is reduced to 25$ (only for few days).

    Regarding passwords I recommends using keepass which is also free
    and encrypted locally on your desk.

    I would be more than happy to have comments and feedback
    on my SW.

    Shimon (shimon@42tags.com)

  2. Plan Your Escape says:

    I've only had limited success going paperless. I've always fallen back to the paper and pen. Since I'm not currently as organized as I should be, I'm willing to give it another shot though!

    I think a robust backup strategy would be essential for the paperless office ... I'd want this automated if possible since, as I said, I tend to be a bit disorganized.

    Thanks for the tips.


  3. Julian says:

    If I may add a hint to that already great list:

    You don't have to worry about local folder structures or entering all of that information, nor back-ups if you use shoeboxed.com for your receipts.

    It's a free project we (a bunch of Duke students and alumni) started to make it easier to organize your online & offline expenses automatically. Check it out, the sign-up is free: http://www.shoeboxed.com

  4. Kristal says:

    Here's another way to go paperless: keep all your documents digital and online. The main thing I think that is the hinderance to that is the dilemma of getting signatures on a document. However, with electronic signatures now approved as legally binding, a simple switch to electronic signature software can save you a lot of time, money and hassle by eliminating the need for paper documents.
    I use eSign Online by http://www.gopaperless.com and I keep all my documents in their online vault which is accessible from any computer as long as I have internet connection.
    It has completely streamlined my business management and I am no longer messing with little pieces of paper everywhere or rushing to get to kinkos before closing. I simply click, sign, email, upload & DONE! Check it out yourself at http://www.gopaperless.com/EsignOnline.aspx
    Good luck going paperless!

    P.S. Peter...I know what you mean, I love scribbling with a pen, but that's why I got a tablet pc with a stylus pen...I can doodle all I want & not waste paper!
    Check out my blog: www.paperlessadventures.wordpress.com

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