Earlier we talked about how to “Make a Date With Yourself to Pay the Bills,” and now we are going to talk about another way to streamline finances. Let’s talk about going paperless and automating payments and deposits.
Let’s Get Digital
Convert paper bills to e-bills that arrive to your bank/credit union online account. Doing this:
1) Reduces the risk of identity theft; and,
2) Reduces the risk of losing bills in the mail or at your home; and,
3) Reduces number of user accounts and number of online passwords needed to pay your bills; and,
4) Secures your account information with the bank rather than your email account.
With paper, there’s always a chance they’ll fall behind the desk or get trashed with junk mail by mistake. Or, worse yet, nabbed for identity theft before you’ve even had a chance to open them. By switching from paper to electronic delivery, you lower the chances of both, while at the same time streamline finances.
Utilize Online Banking Pay
Take the above tip one step further with automated bill payments via your online bill payment system. Set bill reminders on your phone. Skip paper checks which, again, lowers your risk for identity theft. Then schedule and review bill payments online.
ALERT: This does not mean you stop looking at bills and statements when they’re delivered. It’s important to open statements each month and review the amount due, charges, services, etc. for accuracy. Companies are run by humans and humans make mistakes. Don’t give away your money – little errors add up fast.
Another way to streamline finances is to sign up for direct deposit of paycheck, social security check, and/or tax refund. Take it up a notch and pay yourself first. That’s right – your employer can split your direct deposit so that a portion goes to your savings account and the rest to your checking account – all at the same time. This is a great way to stop waffling on the ever important but often overlooked practice of saving.
For those one-off deposits – like gifts from family members – save yourself a trip to the bank and use remote deposit to streamline finances without going to the bank. Nowadays, most banks offer an app with a built-in scanner or they allow you to simply snap a picture of the check using your phone. And, no worries – this image is not captured in your phone gallery but only in the banking app. Contact your financial institution for more information.
When people hear “go paperless,” usually the first thing they apply that to is bills. But really embrace the paperless revolution and apply this green solution to all applicable documents.
Receipts – we’re looking at you! Many stores now offer the option of having the receipt emailed to you instead of printed at the register. Even local libraries are going green with eReceipts. There are apps to streamline finances specifically for scanning and tracking receipts, such as Shoeboxed and Expensify.
While none of these improvements should be made with the set-it-and-forget-it mindset (it’s not a good idea to put your money on autopilot after all), they will certainly help you streamline finances and take control of your money.
Not sure how or where to start? Your daily money manager can help.