To Go Paperless or Not

Papers are the number one struggle I see people dealing with – there’s always more of it.  It never stops coming in, the mail is delivered almost 6 days a week.  There’s no escaping it, despite how we’ve been hearing predictions of being a paperless society.  This does not mean that we cannot reduce our paper consumption, although there are considerations to doing this.

I’ll admit that I was resisting going paperless.  I would check my banking account online and they’d ask me if I wanted to go paperless and I’d say no. I liked part of the idea of it, how much did I need those statements in paper?  Yet, it was comfortable and familiar to have them waiting for me in the mail.  I don’t trust completely that my computer isn’t going to suddenly do something it shouldn’t (whether a corrupted file or a more serious overall computer malfunction).  One day working with a client, we ended up talking about this, and when I told her I wasn’t getting my statements electronically, she looked at me quizzically and asked “why not?” I hadn’t thought that much about it and I struggled to put words to my reasons – I was just not changing the way I’d always done it.  Within a week, I logged on and changed to getting my statements electronically.

This is the only occasion that I’ve personally gone paperless though (personally, as my husband has several accounts we share as electronic).  I download my statements and check on things.  I don’t need to worry about computer issues since my account with the bank keeps all my monthly statements for a few years – therefore if something were to happen to my files or my computer, I can just log back in and get them downloaded again (if I even need to have a copy on my computer). There could even be an argument that I don’t need to use the space on my computer for these files once I’ve reconciled things.

There are other accounts that I’m still attached to having a hard copy – something I can put in a file and have access to. I do look at these papers periodically.  If I were to set up getting them electronically, I would just have to spend time logging in, reviewing, and printing out.  What’s the point of them being electronic then? Paper is being used either way, and to get them automatically in the mail saves me time and energy.  I’d rather spend that time and energy in other ways (and the post office gets some support too).

I’ve talked before about e-mail and how that too can become clutter.  I avoid giving my e-mail address out to every vendor that wants it (not professionally), as I too often feel overwhelmed with email.  There are times I don’t look at my electronic bank statement promptly simply because I have so many emails to review. If you’re one of those people with hundreds (or even thousands) of emails hanging out in your mailbox, getting statements electronically could make them easier to miss – which becomes more critical when they’re actual bills that need your attention.

There’s also the way to be freer of papers – to set up auto payments for your recurring bills.  This makes sense in that it saves you even more time and energy.  You tell certain (or all) regular bills to be withdrawn from your account and on what day.  This can be also be accomplished by your bank’s online bill pay option.  You save the paper of the check and envelope.

Have you moved toward being more paperless?  If not, what exactly is it that is you are resisting?  Until I figured out that answer for myself, I didn’t change.  There’s no right answer, but finding your own, personal solution.

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