When the whole ‘net boom was growing, everyone thought we would be a paperless society in only a matter of years. The idea sounded feasible as numerous services went online offering secure options for managing accounts and delivering information. Years later we are using more paper than ever along with our massive consumption of information online.
So what happened? Why are we not sticking to electronic options exclusively instead of printing out physical copies of everything? I don’t fully know the answer, but I do know that most companies still rely on physical storage of information.
Perhaps it is the fact that hard drives fail, a painful experience most of us have had at one point or another. Digital data can be lost. Secure online accounts sound great until there is another big hacking breach publicized in the news. Email delivery of monthly statements is not always something you can rely on to avoid late payments on a credit card or loan payment. There are a number of insecurities we all harbor, and our protection is to stick to the old fashioned postal delivery of our reminders. The reality, granted in my opinion, is that we feed our lack of personal organization by sticking to getting things delivered by mail.
Nearly every financial institution offers options to go paperless with your statements and regular communication; some even offer incentives for you to do it because of the cost savings it provides them. If email delivery is an issue, consider changing your email to a good free service such as Gmail. Google can offer a high reception success on your email along with super spam filtering due to a sheer number of subscribers they monitor for problems. Plus, with Gmail, you get nearly 3GB of storage that is automatically backed up for you. You are not going to lose those important emails with solid service.
Concerned that you may not remember to pay those bills without a physical reminder? First off, consider checking your email at least once a day if you don’t already. It’s a good thing to stay in communication with people, plus with the regular habit, you can ensure you will see important missives quickly.
Second, consider paying bills right when they come in. I know, we all like to squeeze out every day of interest we can by holding our money into our account until the last possible moment. Come on, I have thought like that too, but the reality here is that we are just procrastinators that like to cover ourselves with believing we are sound financial thinkers. If you pay bills right off, you never have to remember the due date with growing anxiety of missing it. If your finances are tight this may be a difficult transition to make; but, once done, it is no different than your normal routine, just moved up in the month.
Finally, if you are really bad about remembering things – as I am – use electronic reminders. If you use a mobile phone use the built-in task list or calendar option to put in date/time reminders to do important tasks. If you are not that electronically savvy, carry a small datebook and get good and looking at it regularly to see what important things need to get done on any given day.
Really going paperless is not a matter of security, privacy or availability. Going paperless is a matter of breaking our current habits and establishing new, better ones.