Have you been diligently slogging through your paperwork this month? Have you gathered together the tax info, submitted and received forms, shredded outdated information, and created a filing system that you can maintain going forward?
If so, good job! If not, check out my last blog for a helpful framework on the ART of filing.
Most likely, one of the reasons you struggle with paperwork is because you are just inundated with too much of it. Despite the fact that we live in the digital age, physical paper still abounds. Here are the three best strategies to reduce it.
Strategy #1: Autopay
Autopay has been the best tool for me personally in reducing the amount of time I spend processing bills and paperwork. I used to sit down once a week to process all incoming bills. What a headache that was! Now I never have to do that.
How does autopay work? Just sign up with the payee (utility company, cell phone, even credit card) to have your bill automatically deducted on your due date each month from the account you select, either a bank account or a credit card.
Reap the benefits:
Avoid the drawbacks:
Note: When setting credit cards up for autopay, start by having only the minimum due paid automatically. That way, you won’t worry about forgetting to make a payment and incurring late fees, but you also won’t have to worry about your bank account being overdrawn by a giant payment. As you get more used to automatic payments and saving up funds to cover them, you can switch to having the full balance automatically deducted.
Strategy #2: Paperless
Are you worried about going paperless? Don’t be! You’ll still get bills and statements, but they’ll be sent via email instead of snail mail.
Unless they affect your taxes, you probably don’t need to save copies of the bills because you can access them online. Check with the payee to see how long you’ll have online access to the records.
If you want to save the bills for yourself, file them digitally. Set up an email folder called “Bills” (creative, right?) and save the emails there, or download copies of the statements (or save the emails as pdf files) and store them in a folder marked “Bills 2019,” creating one folder per year. Resist the temptation to print them out!
Strategy #3: Opt Out
I love opting out of receiving mail! Why? Because it puts me in control of what information comes into my home.
As a bonus, it’s an immediate way to reduce so much waste: wasted paper, wasted ink, wasted stamps, wasted money, wasted effort (both in getting it to me and in getting rid of it.
So how do you opt out of getting all this mail? These are my favorite tools:
The mail won’t be reduced overnight, but if you stick with using these services, you’ll see a dramatic reduction of incoming mail over the course of a couple of months. I used to get stacks of mail, but now only have a few pieces of mail each day and occasionally I get no mail at all. When the catalogs and solicitations start creeping into my mailbox again, I use PaperKarma again to banish them.
I’d love to hear from you!
What is your best strategy to reduce the time you spend with paperwork?
Do you enjoy getting catalogs or do you find they create dissatisfaction and “wanting?”