As I write this blog post, surrounded by paperwork, I realize my attempts at going paperless have been dismal failures. Then it dawned on me, it is paper-less, not paper-free. The goal here is not to get rid of all paper, it is to have less paper, which I have successfully accomplished. This is a two-part blog series, stay tuned for ways to minimize paper in the office, for now here are some ways to minimize paper at home.
- Keep a cross-cut shredder close-at-hand (if you don’t have a convenient hiding place, click here for a solution)
- Sign in to your bank, credit card, home or auto loan company websites and make sure you have opted out of “offer” mail, from them and their partners
- Have bills delivered electronically. Create a folder in your email where you can file them. I like to create 2 files for each year, one for tax-related bills and one for the rest.
- Download and save bank and credit card statement on your computer at year end. If you close that account, you will not be able to access old statements, so it’s best to save as you go.
- Use a project organizer to sort medical bills and claim forms until you have time to reconcile and pay the bills. I label the tabs in my medical bill project organizer like this: incoming bills, incoming claim forms, paid bills, HSA account receipts.
- Instead of saving magazines and catalogs. Tag the pages that interest you and look for the item online, then save it to Pinterest. If you can’t find it online, scan it in or photograph it with your smart phone, then save to your hard drive. Occasionally, I must save a particularly inspiring magazine or catalog. In that case, allow yourself a certain number of magazine files and sort by subject, décor or cooking, for example.
- Take photos of receipts, save any tax or warranty related receipts on your computer hard drive. Use a pouch like this to temporarily store receipts until you have time to scan them. Scanning is easy with these apps for your iPhone.
- When you make a purchase, download the manual. Photograph the receipt with your phone and save them together in a folder on your computer.
- Save grocery receipts in the bottom of your reusable grocery bags. Save only for a few weeks or until the return period expires.
- I use a document box to collect tax documents throughout the year. Just toss them in, my taxes (unfortunately or fortunately) are not very complicated.
Now that your filing cabinet is empty, here are some great ideas to repurpose it for use in the garage or in the house.