Day 14: Go Paperless

by Jason Unger

Beyond the obvious financial benefits, Automatic Finances provides you with something that everyone desires: simplicity.

You’ve got fewer bills you have to remember to pay. You don’t have to remember to save … it happens automatically. And today, you’re going to get rid of the stacks of paper that always end up creating a mess on your desk or in your house.

It’s the beauty of today’s payment options. You don’t need paper bills or statements. Get rid of them!

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Remember those stacks of paper you gathered way back on Day 1 to organize your finances? It’s time to stop building those piles up.

When your financial life happens online, there’s no need to waste the paper, stamps and shoeboxes to print out, mail and store months and years of bills, pay stubs and statements.

In an age when going green is more and more important, many banks and service providers offer digital options for your paperwork.

For your banks, bills and other recurring services, log on to their Web sites and look for the link to “stop your paper bill,” “sign up for e-delivery” or something similar.

Why Going Paperless is a Win-Win-Win Situation

Ending the influx of paper bills and statements and instead receiving PDF versions works out for everyone, from you to the service provider to the garbage man.

  • You: With paperless statements, you can more easily organize, find and store your financial records. You won’t be overflowing with paper – much of it you’ll never need. And when you do need a statement, it’s easier to search a digital archive than to sift through a closet or drawers for one sheet of paper.
  • Bank/Provider: Banks and service providers love paperless billing options because it saves them tons of money. They don’t have to pay for the countless sheets of paper, the mailing envelopes, and stamps. Often, when you go paperless and switch to e-delivery, some of the savings will be passed on to you.
  • The Garbage Man: Chances are, you’re probably shredding or throwing out a bunch of your bills anyway. That by itself is a reason to switch to paperless billing. But did you know that 18.5 million trees could be saved each year if all U.S households banked online? It’s true, according to the Electronic Payments Network.

Three Paperless Options Beyond Your Bills

There are even more options available to go paperless:

  • Scan and Deposit Your Checks – Some banks, like USAA’s Deposit@Home, allow their members to take the checks they need to deposit, scan them on their home scanner, upload them to the Internet, and then deposit them into their account. It’s not a widely offered feature among banks, but it’s available to some.
  • Send Paper Checks – Some checking accounts, like ING Direct’s Electric Orange, offer the ability to send paper checks online. They write the check, pay for the stamp and lick the envelope – you simply put in the amount and who it’s going to.
  • Transfer Money Online – If you need to make a payment to someone online, services like PayPal connect to your bank account, grab the money and transfer the funds to another person online. While PayPal charges a fee, your bank may have a similar option for sending money to people who also are members.

 TIP: Living a paperless lifestyle also helps you avoid a big pain: going to the ATM. Even in a big city, your branch’s closest ATM may not be that convenient. When your money is all digital, it gets where it’s going a lot quicker than that check sitting in your wallet for the past two weeks.

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