How to Finally Go Paperless at Home, Because It’s Past Time

How to Finally Go Paperless at Home, Because It’s Past Time
Photo: Kagai19927, Shutterstock

Going paperless doesn’t need to be limited to office work. Between online bill pay and services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Zelle, CashApp, and Venmo, you can get rid of nearly all your finance-related clutter. But why stop there? Going paperless can apply to virtually every area of your life, so here are a few ways to make the full transition at home.

Sign up for bank e-statements

Opting in to e-statements is done through your banking institution’s website or app. If you haven’t already, sign up for online banking. Once you do, it’ll ask you if you prefer e-statements and digital correspondence. Agree to the terms and include an email address that you check regularly so you can keep track of your finances online.

Download online apps for bill pay

Almost every bill you pay has an online platform or app to manage and pay what you owe. Download them as need, and file them away into a single folder on your device to keep your digital life organised as well. Most apps can be found in your iPhone or Android app store.

If having a million different apps is not your thing, though, you can use Simplifi or Truebill to consolidate all of your bill information into one place for easy tracking. Just make sure you signed up for e-bills and statements so you no longer receive paper bills. Some banks like Ally Bank or Chime run entirely online.

Get your signature digitised

This process used to be a bit arduous, where you would take a picture of your signature, upload it, and remove the background for easy insertion into any PDF or Word doc. While you can still do that, there’s an easier way: If you have a Mac complete with PDF Preview, you can create a saved signature. Just open a PDF on your Mac, click “Tools,” select “Annotate,” then “Signature.” You’ll see another dropdown with the option to “Manage Signatures” and the option to “Create a Signature.” It’ll ask you to draw your signature with the trackpad (don’t worry, it lets you try as many times as you need.)

Preview also accepts a picture of the signature using the computer camera while in “Manage Signature.” The signature will save in Preview for use on any documents you need to sign, simply follow the same instructions.

And when it comes to needing signatures from yourself and others, consider signing up for a digital signature service like Docusign and Hello Sign. They’re convenient ways to request a signature, get a document signed, and receive a digital copy for your records. And if you need other ways for e-signing your docs, you can find our guide here.

Scan and purge all your old paper clutter

Take a day (or weekend, or week) to digitize all of your important papers. Once that’s done, it’s time to start getting rid of the paper already sitting in your house.

You’ll want to scan important documents like contracts and medical records. (Even better if you can find a digital copy buried in your inbox somewhere). You’ll want to hold onto original copies of federal documents like birth certificates, vaccination records, and marriage licenses, but you should still scan those, too, for an online backup. That’ll make them easier to replace if ever you need.

Outside of a physical scanner, online platforms like Google Drive have scanning capabilities allowing you to take a picture of a document and upload it directly to your drive. We’ve reported on the benefits of scanning apps like Scanbot for Android in the past, with features that are especially helpful for receipts and other paperwork.

How to unsubscribe from unwanted snail mail

Getting coupons and offers sent to your home used to be genuinely helpful. Now that newsletters are emailed and social media does everything, most catalogues only add to our piles of junk, and it can be difficult to stop that mail from coming.

Thankfully, there are sites like Catalogue Choice and Eco-Cycle to stop the onslaught of junk mail. Sites like those will contact the catalogues or credit card institutions and opt-out of mailers for you. They take on the leg work so you can purge papers from your home without it piling up again.

If you want to opt out of credit card offers and mailers manually, look for the terms in the small print of your incessant promotions for the toll-free number to remove yourself from their marketing lists. It’ll be like playing whack-a-mole, though, so using a service like Catalogue Choice or Ego-Cycle are an easier option.

Get used to saving documents as PDFs

Once everything is digitised and purged, get in the habit of keeping it that way. When you receive a bill, invoice, or form, click “print” and choose “save as PDF” rather than printing them out. Save your files in a safe place with two-factor authorization, and relax knowing that you have loads more physical space in your home, and that organising your digital folders will be much easier than a pile of papers.

Log in to comment on this story!