Goan-'Paperless' House

choufleurNovember 2, 2003

Desperately need to streamline my filing chores. Pay most of my bills electronically or by auto deduction from paycheck or checking account. Have been printing off payment confirmations each month and filing them--then a few months later, discarding all of this paperwork. My plan--stop all paper statements and print as little as possible. Am able to electronically view payment records to most if not all companies. What do you suggest I save in hard copy and for how long?

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I'd recommend doing what I do;
1) Get a PDF creation program. Adobe Acrobat is the Cadillac out there (at Caddy pricing,) and a much cheaper program I use ($50) is pdfFactory (linked below... it also has a Free Trial for 30 days... kickbutt program!)

2) Get a Free eFax account (at www.eFax.com.) They'll give you a free private fax number that goes to their servers SOMEWHERE (likely in the boonies of some other state) and converts into an document attachment that comes to you on an email to your inbox.

3) Have all account statements that can't be received online faxed to you. If the bank (or whoever) will only snailmail them, then whenever YOU get them, fax them to yourself at the eFax number (same thing as scanning... you COULD scan instead, ifyou have a scanner... but I think this is easier, though an extra step.)

4) When you either receive your statements via fax, OR check them online, simply "print/save" to the PDF format... and store them in an appropriate Folder on your HardDrive. You can organize folders, sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders on your harddrive in any way that makes sense for you. FAR easier than having manila folders & ragged paper staring at you & collecting dust & taking up space!

5) Once a year, burn a CD of 2 year's ago data, and take it off your harddrive (if you really want to. Your private, personal bill statement data itself will take up SO LITTLE space that you could keep an entire family's lifetime of finacnial records in PDF format, and never run out of hard drive space.) STILL, burn a CD anyway, and put it SOMEPLACE ELSE... like a safe-deposit box... where a fire or flood won't destroy it.

Helpful Hint;
Here's my "filenaming protocol" which I've designed so that the saved documents automaitcally sort themselves properly, and are easy to read & see at a glance in the Windows Folders.

Date, Personal Name, - Account Name, Number, Balance
11-02-03, Donhoff,Dave - E*Trade #5221, $205,875.pdf
(Account & balance made up to confuse the guilty!)

Hope that helps!
Dave Donhoff
Just some mortgage guy ;~)

Here is a link that might be useful: pdfFactory

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 4:39PM
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I honesty don't think you need to burn a CD w/ 2 years' worth of credit card payment confirmations. Once the credit-card company has acknowledge the payment, you don't need the record of it anymore.

You might do the PDF thing, and then you can easily delete stuff by date--anything 6 months old goes away.

I probably would just stop printing it all out.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2003 at 7:23PM
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I you go "whole hog" to becoming a "paperless house" ...

... I assume that you'll go visit the neighbour's house to use the bathroom?

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 9, 2003 at 6:34AM
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