Most of us were raised in a world where we had to touch and feel our bills and statements. We received our monthly bills in the mail, opened the envelope, reviewed the information and set it aside to pay at a later time. When it was time to pay our monthly bills, we would review the bill, write a check and then enclose it in an envelope and mail the payment. Until very recently, that is all we knew – that is how we lived our lives.
With the creation of the personal computers and other personal electronic devises, and of course the internet, what we have always done may not be, today, the smartest way of handling our finances. It certainly is not the “greenest” way of handling our monthly expenses.
We should all be concerned about identity theft. It is known that some of the ways our personal financial information is obtained is through the theft of our paper receipts, bills and statements. Certainly bills can be shredded to protect against identity theft, but perhaps the real answer is not have your bill in paper form at all. The following are five reasons on why to keep your finances online…
My five reasons are:
1. You will eliminate your cost of paying bills with paper. If you pay ten bills a month, in postage alone you will save over $50 annually by switching to a bed-based payment method. That does not take in account the cost of your checks and envelopes. In fact, you may actually receive some rewards by signing up for paperless billing. I have to believe all banks and credit unions now offer bill paying services and if you are with a bank that does not, most likely your credit card company, mortgage or utility company takes payment right at their website.
2. You will not need to go to the post-office as often. Okay, this may not amount to a big savings, but keep in mind there is talk that the US Post Office is going to be delivering mail five days a week instead of six. The cost of gas is certainly a factor for all of us when deciding to drive now-a-days so the idea of not having to go to the post office and leave mail in an unattended box makes good sense.
3. You will reduce the cost and clutter of paper filing. By creating folders on your computer or in a free email account, you save the cost of purchasing a file cabinet. Electronic files are easy to transfer and even easier to back-up. Keep in mind, in case of a fire in your home you may lose your records, however, if it is stored on a web-based back-up system your files remain protected.
4. You have access to your files literally anywhere. You can eliminate the tireless searches through receipts and invoices by creating an electronic storage system. If you use a free email account or a web-based back-up system, you can literally access your files anywhere there is internet access.
5. You will deter theft. By now most people realize that mail is stolen from mail boxes and those wanting to steal someone’s identity often rummage through garbage. With your information secured by password on a computer you are protecting yourself and deterring theft.Of course if there was a sixth reason to become paperless when it comes to maintaining your financial records is that we all should become more “green.” The fewer paper bills and statements you receive means the fewer trees cut down and ultimately the less waste deposited in landfills.
With the right security on your computer and a little re-training of how we were raised, switching your bills and statements to a paperless method will prove to be more secure, easier to manage and better for our environment.
James Campanella is a twenty-five year veteran of the mortgage lending industry. He is the Branch Manager (Rolling Meadows, IL) of Supreme Lending, a national mortgage banker.
When not originating residential mortgage loans, Jim hosts the mortgage blog, “The Mortgage Messenger.” Jim is the author of the e-book “The Mortgage Messenger’s Home Buyer’s Handbook.”