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With minimalism on the rise and households slowly being suffocated with an endless amount of paper, going completely paperless is also on the rise. If you’re considering taking the plunge, we can get you started.
1. You’ll definitely need some kind of scanner. You’ve got two major scanning options: purchase one or use an app on your phone. If you purchase one, you’ll want to research the best scanner when it comes to what’s important to you (scan time, size, front and back capabilities, price, etc.). If you prefer to use an app, TinyScanner has great reviews. There is a free version, although you can only scan so many documents before requiring an upgrade. It’s definitely a big task to get all your past documents scanned.
2. Next you’ll want a paper tray to keep your papers organized. If you are sticking with the minimalist mindset, you’ll want a one to two-tiered tray as opposed to a large, multitiered tray that will most likely simply collect paper (which we are trying to avoid). Whenever something comes in, like a bill or a receipt, throw it in the tray until it’s time to scan it and shred it.
3. You may also want to invest in a paper shredder. A lot of the documents that can be scanned in will need to be shredded rather than thrown away. You can find a cheap shredder for about $20 and it’s totally worth the investment.
4. Sign up for eStatements! Almost every organization offers this service and it’s a great way to declutter your bills. Instead of being mailed to you, all bills go directly to your email. From there, you can immediately save wherever you are storing your files.
5. Try digital subscriptions. If you have a couple magazines or newspapers you receive in the mail, why not try a digital subscription? It’s the same content, but less paper cluttering your house. Plus, digital versions are usually accessible before print versions.
6. Sign up for bill pay. Having bills automatically come out of your account can save time and paper. Most businesses have an automatic bill pay option, otherwise, if you are a DECU member, bill pay comes free with eStatements.
7. Consider a file storage app like Evernote. Evernote can be accessed from anywhere online or downloaded as a desktop app (or a combination of both). This program allows you to easily scan or save files, store them in order, and easily search the uploaded documents.
8. Another budget item is a firebox. In the end, you will have some papers you can’t go without (think: social security cards, marriage license, etc.). These should be kept extra safe as it’s a pain to have to replace them. Consider splurging on a fire proof safety box to store somewhere in your house.
9. Save yourself the hassle later by asking for digital versions of paperwork upfront. If someone offers you a handout, don’t be afraid to ask for it over email instead.
10. Perhaps the most important tip of them all: double check important scans before shredding the paper version! If you don’t, you could get into some sticky situations. Along those lines, if you aren’t using a program, be sure to back up your files. An easy way to do this is by using an external hard drive.
It's definitely a time commitment to get started, but in the end, you'll be thankful you did. Once all your files are scanned and organized, it will only take less than 30 minutes a week to keep up with all incoming paper. Good luck on going paperless!