In my last post, I advised that you opt-out of mailings to reduce paper coming into your home. This week, I want you to take it one step further. Go paperless.
Why should you go paperless?
Besides helping the environment and decreasing the chances of identity theft, you’ll reduce paper clutter, stop having so many documents to file, and save time. The first step to doing this is to contact billers and ask that they convert you to e-billing. You can get a year-end report from banks, credit cards, and many of your regular bills like utilities, services, etc. It’ll make your taxes easier too.
Set Up Autopay
So your bills are coming by email, or are set to web-only. How do you make sure you’re keeping up with them and not incurring late fees or messing up your credit?
Set up autopay on your bills so that you don’t miss bills with paperless billing. This is also a way of organizing your time so that you’ve automated what you can and have time to give attention to what actually needs you. For billers you trust and bill amounts that are the same every month, set up autopay through your main checking account. This could be for your mortgage, your insurance, and other bills that will be the same amount every month. You trust that these billers won’t keep charging you after you’ve cancelled your membership or changed your service.
For bills that will vary in amount or billers that don’t always bill accurately, set up autopay through a credit card instead of your bank account. Pick one credit card that will either give you frequent flier miles, cash back or some other incentive. Pay this credit card in its entirety every month. When you pay the credit card, you can reconcile the amounts from all the billers and contest anything you need to (my cell phone company is notorious for overcharging me and then needing a phone call to give me an accurate bill). For bills that have varying amounts, having the credit card charged instead of your bank account will mean that you’re not setting yourself up for overdraft. Also, set up your credit card bill due date for a different pay period than your mortgage or rent so your big bills are spread out.
Set Your Due Date
Make your bills work for you. Most companies will change the due date on bills so that you can time bills for when you actually have money rather than watching your grocery fund for two weeks and then being able to pay for things once the next paycheck comes in.
Levelize Your Utility Bills
If your utility company offers levelized billing (sometimes called budget billing), it’s worth doing. If you’ve got a programmable thermostat, turn the lights off when you leave a room, and have got your electric and water use to the point where you’re using as little as your family is likely to, levelized billing is an incredible option. Rather than having huge bills at certain parts of the year and small at the other, budget billing makes your bill amount predictable so you can budget for it. They take an average from six (or twelve) months of bills and recalculate that average every period. Knowing what you’re going to pay every month will help you organize your time and your money.
Other Ways to Go Paperless
- Pay virtually instead of through the mail using Paypal, Venmo, or other services.
- Scan documents so you don’t need to keep paper files (or many paper files).
- Use the cloud. Rather than printing documents, take them with you using Dropbox, Google Docs, iDrive and more.
- E-sign documents using Docusign.