How To

Spring Cleaning Your Finances: 5 Ways to Go Paperless

Human buried in papers

We’re well into the 21st Century, yet few people have fully realized the paperless potential of the contemporary office or home. Are you still using paper? How much? And, more to the point, why?

There are a number of ways that you can reduce the amount of paper your home and office uses, lowering your carbon footprint, saving you money and eliminating clutter from your life.

Now that the dust has settled from tax season and it’s spring cleaning time– eliminate paper from your life once and for all.

Scan, Scan, Scan

Scanning paperwork is one of the biggest ways you’re going to clean up the paper clutter in your home. Crucial documents are a lot safer scanned and put onto a cloud storage service (or two), than they are sitting around your house.

How many times have you hunted around for the right paperwork? How much easier would it be to find it on your Google Drive?

Investing in a scanner will free up a lot of space in your home and save you a lot of aggravation. JotNot Scanner Pro is an app that turns your iPhone into a scanner, so if you don’t have one already, you don’t need to buy one.

Shred and Recycle

A lot of people are paperwork pack rats. It’s good to hold onto important documents, such as tax items, but you only need to do this for so long.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you should keep and how long you should keep it.

Seven-Year Docs:

  • Income statements such as 1099 and W-2 forms
  • Banking information like account and credit card statements and deposit slips
  • Documentation of charitable deductions, as well as any other receipts pertaining to your income taxes

Forever Docs:

  • All documents relating to a divorce
  • The most recent version of your estate planning documents
  • Tax returns
  • Annual reports from your retirement plan

Anything else can be recycled after you shred it. Those particularly concerned about privacy and document security can hire a firm to dispose of documents for them.

Paper Saving Apps

You won’t be surprised to hear that, when it comes to cleaning up paper clutter, there are apps available. Some apps that will help to reduce the amount of paper in your life include:

  • PaperKarma: Take a picture of junk mail and within 24 hours, PaperKarma will have you off their list.
  • Lemon: What’s better than recycling the receipts you no longer need? Recycling the receipts you still need. Lemon lets you snap a picture of all the receipts you want to hang on to, storing them in your smartphone.
  • iAnnotate PDF: A lot of people print out PDF documents so that they can annotate them. iAnnotate PDF is the long-awaited app that renders this superfluous, allowing you to make notes right on your tablet.
  • Sketchbook Pro: Are you a bit of an artist? Got more sketchbooks around than you know what to do with? Sketchbook Pro solves this problem, allowing you to get all the benefits of a traditional sketchbook without the clutter.
  • JotNot Scanner Pro: As mentioned earlier in this article, JotNot is a multi-document scanner for iPhone. Take a picture with your phone’s camera, and then use the app to save and/or email the photo as a PDF, PNG, or JPEG. You can use the “Single Page Mode” or upload multiple photos and send as one document.
  • Card Flick: For people with boxes of business cards cluttering up their office, Card Flick is a perfect solution. It brings the business card into the digital age, allowing you to trade cards while also going paperless.

Sign and Notarize Paperlessly

You don’t even need traditional paper to sign and notarize your documents anymore. A number of apps including SignNow, RightSignature, DocuSign and HelloSign allow you to do all your document signing and notarizing online without wasting paper.

The documents are all legally binding, so don’t worry that they won’t have the full force of the law because they were handled online.

Get an E-Reader

An e-reader will help you to clear all the books out of your home.

If you sell your books this means that an e-reader can easily pay for itself. You can also move all of your magazine subscriptions onto the e-reader as well.

Once you get used to reading on an e-reader you’ll wonder why you stayed with traditional paper as long as you have.

Clean Up, Save Money, Save the Planet

Using old-fashioned traditional paper costs you money when you buy it and when you store it. It also increases your carbon footprint.

Make a commitment this year to eliminate paper from your life. You’ll be glad you did.

“Spring Cleaning Your Finances: 5 Ways to Go Paperless” was written by Nicholas Pell.