Going paperless

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Going paperless

Postby Neo » 23 Apr 2015, 13:57

I wasn't sure if there would be anything to post about for this forum...turns out I have something.

I am 99% paperless in my finances. I don't write personal checks, I don't even own personal checks to any active bank account. I don't get paper bank statements, and I don't get bills. I don't carry cash, and I don't like getting it. I file my taxes online and backup a pdf version of the docs to the cloud.

The 1% of paper we do get is when a company forgets to not send us crap, or it's a credit card offer in the mail. Otherwise, we'd never get mail that wasn't junk - which was the case in my adult single life...the only mail I got was junk, so I checked the box like once every two weeks, if at all. It pissed the mailman off.

So, now, when I'm in the process of buying a house, and they want a paper-trail, personal checks, and bank statements, I come to them with empty hands and an email with pdf attachments. This is mostly ok, except when they want to see the checks for the Earnest Money being withdrawn from the bank account, when it was a cash withdrawal and money orders. And they want to see the w-2 from 2 years ago, when that paper is long gone (misplaced), even though I have all the information that was contained on it.

Going paperless is not a new thing - so I don't know why industries haven't moved forward. It was one of my biggest issues with the Accounting job I had, where we actually printed a 100ish page report, and had a physical "binder" to bind all the pages together into a book...not just 1 book - 12 books, one for every financial institution that needed a copy of the financials...every month. I asked my boss why we couldn't just email them one PDF to multiple people and save the money involved in all of this extra smurf-poo. I got blank looks and excuses.

So, for anyone who is considering going paperless...here's how we do it:
  • Use online billpay - even if it is to send a check to a company, and not an ebill
  • Pay all your bills through a credit card that you can earn points on.
  • PAY OFF THE CREDIT CARD every month! Important! Never carry a balance. You're already going to pay cash for those bills, so you might as well get some points, build credit, and not have liability of using a debit card.
  • if you do your taxes online, scan the original documents into a pdf, and save it with the print-to-pdf of the tax forms.
  • have your statements and bills sent electronically.
Now, one additional measure I take is that I own a couple domains...those domains are tied to some webhosting. The webhosting comes with email server support. I flipped on a setting where all email sent to an address that doesn't exist goes to a single, real, catch-all address....in my case it is a long alpha-numeric string of numbers that no one will ever guess. Now I can give people my email as neo@domain or walmart@domain or pizzahut@domain...whatever@domain and it all goes to the same inbox. That catch-all inbox is pulled into a gmail account and filtered for spam, then tagged and organized appropriately.

The point of this is I can give financial institutions and other people sending me bills a unique email address. This unique email address cannot be logged into by a hacker because the address does not exist on the server represented by the domain. And as long as I never give anyone my real email, I never have to worry about that. It's a system I've had for a couple years now. It also lets me know who is selling my email, and who is just stumbling on it with a script. if I see something from pizzahut@domain that is not about pizzahut, then they have released my email. Fortunately I have not seen anyone release one of the unique emails yet.
[[Neo]]
"Because I choose to."

Re: Going paperless

Postby DMoney » 23 Apr 2015, 18:14

We've had the same problem with the house buying process. It's so frustrating, because I can show them all the information we have in our pdf from filing taxes, but it's not the exact document they want, so they get on to us and ask for more information. I definitely think everyone should be going paperless though, and I'm ready for more business to move in that direction.
I DEFINITELY agree with paying all bills on a credit card, and paying off the credit card every month. It's worked wonders for us. As a matter of fact, it's one of the reasons we're in Scotland right now. We got over $800 off of our flight tickets because of points we had racked up. Every year we buy all of our Christmas presents (except our presents to each other) from cash back we get from our credit card. Great tip, I recommend it to everyone all the time.
I like your idea about scanning original documents into pdf files. It's something I've been trying to start doing, but not doing it is a hard habit to break. It definitely would have saved us a lot of trouble with documents for our mortgage lender. I also love your additional measure. It's something I've always wanted to do, I've just never taken the time to do it. Anyways, great post with lots of great information!
-D$
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Re: Going paperless

Postby Pam » 24 Apr 2015, 15:27

I so wish everything was paperless. We are probably 90% paperless. We even get our paystubs and w-2s online. I love using Google Drive to keep track of everything and we do our budget and finances with it.

I also love credit cards that give cash back. My hubby and I are working on getting out of debt, and that along with paying those cards off every month has really helped!
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Re: Going paperless

Postby bethnangel » 24 Apr 2015, 21:44

We have gone not only paperless, but card-less. No we did not give up the debit cards, but we did give up the credit cards. My husband is the numbers guy. He tried playing the "credit card game". But in the end we found that all those " rewards" just ended up being a time vacuum with little to no financial benefit. Now we have put that energy into paying off extra debt and are looking to be debt free in a little over a year. Go Dave Ramsey.
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Re: Going paperless

Postby Neo » 24 Apr 2015, 22:55

bethnangel wrote:We have gone not only paperless, but card-less. No we did not give up the debit cards, but we did give up the credit cards. My husband is the numbers guy. He tried playing the "credit card game". But in the end we found that all those " rewards" just ended up being a time vacuum with little to no financial benefit. Now we have put that energy into paying off extra debt and are looking to be debt free in a little over a year. Go Dave Ramsey.
I was going to post something along the lines of the rewards being sorta.... pointless.

Image

But, I didn't get to it.
Pam wrote:I also love credit cards that give cash back.
If you're doing it for cash back, it's sorta like driving to the Kroger to get gas that's $0.03 cheaper...in a normal car, that's a whole 30-cents savings, which you probably spent driving to a station out of your way. It's not supposed to be financially viable for the customer, just better business for the store.

Same thing with credit cards - cash back of 1% on a $5000 credit limit is $50. Chances are there is a cash-back limit of 1% up to $X, meaning you won't actually get the whole amount you could...and you're probably not spending and paying the whole credit limit every month. So, for math's sake, $25 cash back when you're paying payments on the card - you're losing that cash back as it goes towards paying your interest. It's not *nothing*, but it's pretty close. :(

On the other hand, in my situation, I don't have any more debt - aside from wife's student loans and wife's car, which is loan debt, not unsecured debt...so, it makes sense for us to put what we'd buy with cash anyway (debit cards) onto a credit card, and pay the whole thing off every month, no exceptions. Then we don't bear the risk of getting our debit card number stolen and bank account drained (as our credit card number was stolen and used a little over a year ago). Banks aren't as forgiving if the money goes straight out of the account - credit card companies have recourse. Plus we used the points to upgrade our vacation flights to first class - it's the only way to fly now ;). To this end though, we do only ever use one credit card...the others sit on a shelf, and boost my personal credit rating by existing (because they would hurt it if I closed them).
[[Neo]]
"Because I choose to."

Re: Going paperless

Postby DMoney » 26 Apr 2015, 09:25

Using credit card rewards while you still have a balance on the card is pointless. But if you pay off the cards every month, and don't have debt, the rewards can be extremely rewarding. It's as good as using only cash, a la Dave Ramsay, but then getting some of that cash back. We use a combination of different cards so that we get an average of about 3% cash back. Plus additional benefits that have been great on our trip so far.
-D$
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Re: Going paperless

Postby Vanyl » 27 Apr 2015, 08:43

I'm going to chime in and back Pam on this one. I like the rewards cards but for very specific reasons: I always pay off my balance every month (I carry 0 forward so I pay no interest) and everything goes to my credit card so I maximize the points (there is no limit on mine) so when I pay for say a 3000$ trip to Disney on my credit card, those points actually do help. I never charge stuff for the sake of points, but I don't have to with my expenses the way they are. I pay for continuing studies courses that way (450-650 a course) as well as race registrations (70-700 a race), flights (200-600), and my cell phone bill (75/month).

If I had carry-forward, I would use my card less, but the way I see it, I'll be paying these things either way, so might as well get the points I can for them, even if they are meager. It has actually paid off, on the years I had Disney trips, given those are decent prices. But I also have a credit card bill of at least 1500-2300 a month as it is so... my mileage may be different than others...
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