If your home is overrun with stacks of paper and overflowing filing cabinets, it might be time to create a (mostly) paperless household. The key is to create a system with simple rules that the whole family will follow. Here are 7 tips to get you started.
1. Purge existing paper files and piles
Old pay stubs, electric bills and expired warranties – ruthlessly sort through and dispose of the stuff you’ll never need again. Keep original important documents and identification like birth certificates and passports in a safe location. But instead of keeping paper copies, use your secure cloud storage solution to store them.
2. Stop paper at its source
Reduce the amount of paper you receive by having bills and statements sent electronically instead of through the mail. Use a secure online storage provider that makes it easy to set up and organize your own data storage system. Create a digital filing system to keep copies of bills, bank, tax and other important documents.
3. Divert paper at the door
Once you’ve read them, put flyers and other non-identifying mail straight into your conveniently located recycling bin to prevent paper piles from starting in the first place. Keep a shredder handy to dispose of any mail that contains identifying information such s your name and address.
4. Turn paper into pixels
Receipts, warranty information, elementary school art projects – they can all be scanned and stored online. You can buy a handheld scanner for less than $100. Or take photos with your digital camera or smartphone. They’ll be out of the way and much easier to find if you ever need them.
5. Put your records online
There’s no need to keep paper records of credit card and bank account numbers, or insurance, warranty and reward program information. Use a high-security storage provider and put it all online. That includes usernames and passwords scribbled on scraps of paper.
6. Transfer your health documents
Health card numbers, prescriptions, allergy information, immunization records and medical history are ideal candidates for your online safe deposit box. Not only will this eliminate the need to keep paper records, it also means you can access the information from anywhere and anytime, such as in an emergency.
7. Are all those photos keepers?
It’s a good idea to back up your most precious print photos. While you’re at it, assess whether you really need all the photos in those boxes and crates. A lot of poor quality pics were taken before the days of digital previews. Maybe it’s time to toss some and just keep the digital copies of others.