Three years ago John and I made a commitment to go paperless. We knew it was the Green thing to do.
We also looked at the Junk Mail we received, the filing of Important Papers, the Storage of old Records, the Shredding of papers to protect our personal and business identities as a colossal waste of time.
We didn’t know the process would require as much time to implement or have such an amazing effect on our lives.
The difference has been profound and all positive.
Below are lessons we’ve learned and then Steps you can take to make this very important change for your own future freedom and happiness.
We now use a Mail Service. When you use a Postal Box (also known as a P.O.Box) it is illegal for junk marketing mail to be delivered to you. So instantly our mail was dramatically less. We then had less to shred or dispose of.
We switched all bills we could to eStatements so they come to us in an email instead of snail mail. If you want to automate this even more, you can set them up as digital file folders, which you can set up as Auto-Files in your Inbox Set Up . For example you can create an Email Folder for “ABC Gas & Electric”. Then those emails automatically get deposited in that Email Folder for future reference.
We set up Online Banking to do our bill paying without checks. Choosing a bank to do this is something you want to give some serious thought to. Are they big enough to have the level of Online Banking security you are going to be comfortable with? Can you download your accounts in an Accounting Software program like Quick Books or Quicken? Can you set up Auto-Pay for certain accounts so they automatically pay your bills that you can control online? What are their fees? Do they offer paperless statements?
We wanted to work with a large bank so as we traveled, at least in the U.S. we could go into local branches. An added benefit to working with a large bank is they will have more ATMs should you want Cash.
We shifted all our buying to Debit or Credit Card. These accounts were linked to our Accounting Software so now we can pull in depth accurate reports on exactly where our money goes. It has been an amazing tool to really zero in on waste and what things actually cost.
Here are the Steps you can take towards freeing your life up:
1. Choose a Mail Service. We pay $100 a year plus postage to have our mail forwarded. If you use a local service close to where you live, then you will avoid the forwarding fees. You will get a key to your own P.O. Box and be able to pick up your mail as you want.
TIP: If you wish to travel, then choose a Mail Service that will bundle up your mail and forward it to you as you travel. Our service is MailLink in Las Vegas. We can login into our account online and see all the Mail that has arrived and who it came from. We then can choose to have the mail Forwarded, Scanned and sent digitally, Shredded or Faxed to us.
2. Contact every Bill Company that you pay to monthly or annually and switch to eStatements.
TIP: If a company does not offer eStatements then we tried to find another provider that does or set that vendor up as Auto-Pay in advance of when they are due. Then even if your paper statement arrives, you have the comfort of knowing the bill is already paid.
3. Use an Accounting Software for your finances. We use Quicken (click on image) for Personal and Quickbooks (click on image) for our Corporation. You can buy these as Boxed Software with a CD that you install or as Downloadable software. We prefer Quicken. If you can get away with just one Software that is preferred and more common.
TIP: If you are using one of these financial programs then it easier to do your own taxes. Just buy the annual Tax Program software and they will talk to each other, making it very simple to do your own taxes and save BIG $$$ not using a Tax Preparation Service. We use Turbo Tax (click on image) an added benefit of submitting your taxes on line is that you get an automatic confirmation of receipt of your taxes. Mailing your paper taxes in requires going to the Post Office in advance of the deadline and hoping that they arrive.
3. Scanning can be a great way to save all those little memories, favorite items and treasures. Do you really need the actual paper that the card was sent on or just the image and memory? We scan our nieces and nephew’s artwork, cash receipts, Doctor Records, Recipe cards, Scrapbooks and photos etc. Traveling we carry a very small scanner (click on image) so we can record all our receipts, visas etc. for safety and then destroy the records once we don’t need them.
TIP: Request all your Medical Records on CD or as Digital Files. We travel with our dental X-Rays and results of last physicals, blood tests etc. That way we can go to a Dr. anywhere and have our own records to provide immediately. This has saved us money on tests and time contacting previous doctors.
4. Convert any Newspaper, Magazine or Book Clubs to eContent. I use the Kindle, John has an iPad and we now get no shipped publications to us.
TIP: Kindle offers a lot of Free Books. eMagazine subscriptions are often less money.
5. Staying in touch. We have made the switch to eCards for birthdays and holidays. For Christmas we create a custom Christmas eMail Letter that we can send out. We share our pictures, music and links this way without the waste of paper, freight fuel and postage. It’s a greener twist on these important celebrations. Aside from a few older friends & relatives that don’t use email we use eCards for everything.
TIP: I love Jacquie Lawson eCards. For $12.00 a year I can send an unlimited number of cards and they are delightful with free goodies in them, music and animation.
Undertaking a shift to paperless is not a fast process. It takes everyone to agree to the shift if you are to be successful. There will be ongoing work that will be different, like Online Book Keeping and Scanning Documents instead of Filing them.
This is a project for everyone, no matter what your age or your desire to travel. It is good for you and good for the planet. Overall the reduction in Work, Waste and the elimination of contact with actual paper is rewarding and liberating.
By going paperless, you have taken a giant step towards living your life anywhere your heart wants to take you.
We would love to hear your Tips and Success Stories or Challenges in the Comments below.