1. Stop Receiving Regular Statements & Go Online
Sign up for online bill access & payment by going to the websites of your banks, utility companies or any company that sends you a regular paper statement and see if they have an e-option.
Most banks will allow you to stop receiving your standard bank statements and lots of companies will let you check your balances or do anything you need to get done online, but by law there are some instances where they have to send you a piece of paper.
2. Stop the Junk Mail Train
Know all those catalogs and free magazines you signed up for? Call, email or hunt them down, but ask them to stop sending you a paper catalog.
Stopping the receipt of junk mail is seriously difficult.
Even if you put yourself on the DO NOT JUNK MAIL ME lists and whatever else, you will inevitably end up getting something.
Be persistent and you will get somewhere.
2. Buy A Scanner and install CutePDF
Think about buying a scanner that has PDF capabilities. Having things scan as an image is nice, but PDF is better, and easier to print.
You should also install a software called: CutePDF on your PC so if you need to “keep” anything in a file that you don’t want edited, simply paste it into Microsoft Word or Notepad, and hit Print > Print to “CutePDF”, and you will have a nice PDF version of it.
Another good service to use (but I personally avoid it) is EverNote.
You can save tons of documents from online and just CutePDF them.
I have a huge honking all-in-one-printer and scanner fax machine monster, but I am thinking of buying a much smaller, lighter, usb-powered scanner.
It is 12.3 ounces (WOW!) and USB-powered. I am drooling over here.. but as always, I will do my research thoroughly before I put down any hard earned cash for any device.
If I do buy it, I’ll review it, I promise. Or maybe Fujitsu wants to send me one for free?
3. Use Google to organize your life
Generally speaking, most of us have a portable device (laptop, smartphone, netbook) and some sort of internet connection almost everywhere we go.
Email notes to yourself
Set up appointments to yourself
Write and keep documents you can access on the fly.
I would not suggest keeping secured documents on Google Documents, but it’s great to list out things you need to get done.
You can go a step farther and buy an electronic PDA, or use your smartphone…. but I find that I use GMAIL a lot more than my PDA, in making quick notes to myself.
4. Invest in some electronic backups
Since everything is now digitized and/or scanned, you need to back up your electronic versions.
I’d suggest the following as a bare minimum to back up your work
3 USB keys with password security – I am going to buy a third one this week, I like Verbatim with Privacy/Public Zone software and Sandisk.
3 hard drives with password security — I liked Western Digital but I might switch to Iomega now, because the new WD cable designs are really fiddly & can easily snap or get caught.
If you have a Mac, get TimeMachine and back up your laptop on a regular basis.
I’d still suggest a separate hard drive or two, and use CarbonCopyCloner to copy your entire laptop’s brains to be kept on a hard drive.
5. Keep the following documents in hard copy
Keep Physical Versions Of Forever:
- Marriage/Divorce paperwork
- Birth/Death certificates
- Receipts/Transaction records for major purchases such as houses, cars, etc.
Keep Physical Versions For At Least 7 Years
- Any and all paperwork related to tax returns & receipts
Keep in digital format:
- Income statements
- Bank statements
- Investment statements
- Credit card statements
For receipts for things you’ve purchased, keep them until the end of the return/exchange period.
You can pick and choose from the items above; some of you might like to keep your income or investment statements in hard copy format, but for me, unless it’s required by law, I don’t keep anything in paper that I don’t have to.