closer to paperless

I blogged back in December about how I’m taking a few more baby steps towards going paperless. I had switched my Merrill statements over to email, and that’s gone reasonably well. I’m downloading those statements pretty regularly, and I’m also keeping up with the other random statements that were already coming in via email.

One side note: the standard for paperless bills and statements is almost always PDF (which is fine). On my new desktop PC, I’d decided to skip installing Acrobat Reader in favor of Foxit. I thought that was working out OK, but I started having trouble with Foxit crashing randomly, so I had to give up on it and switch back to Acrobat. I’m not that fond of all the bells and whistles that Adobe keeps adding to Acrobat Reader, to try to suck you into their “document cloud” or whatever else they’re pushing at any given time. But at least it doesn’t crash. Maybe I’ll try Sumatra or one of the other third-party PDF readers at some point, but for now I’ll stick with Adobe’s bloatware.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, getting rid of paper. For a number of years, I’ve been paying most of my bills electronically through my bank’s web site. It’s got a reasonably good interface, and has always worked well. Except when I screw up, which I’ve done twice recently. The interface shows an alphabetical list of all the payees you’ve set up, and you just type in the amount you want to pay in a text box next to the payee name. Well, twice recently I’ve accidentally typed into the wrong box, paying a bill for company “A” to company “B” instead. The first time, I caught it in time to cancel the incorrect payment and entered the correct one. But, this month, I paid my cable company instead of my credit card company, and didn’t catch it until the cable bill showed up in the mail with a really big credit on it. So I figured out what I’d done, but maybe a little too late. I paid the credit card bill as soon as I realized what I’d done, but I’m not sure it made it in before the due date, so I might get dinged with a late fee.

So that’s convinced me to try a feature on the bank’s bill payment site that I’ve been ignoring up to now. For several companies, you can request e-bills to be delivered directly via the bank’s web site. So you can just review and pay them right there. I’ve always been a bit leery of this, but it seems like it would be a good way to prevent the problem of accidentally paying the wrong company. And I’ll be able to download the PDF e-bills for multiple companies all through a single web site, instead of a different one for each company.

I signed up for e-bills for my two major credit card accounts. I’ll probably add my other credit card account and my phone bill later, if the first two e-bill setups work out. So pretty soon, I may be down to just one or two paper bills / statements per month, and I can probably get rid of those too.

This is all good, and it will cut down on the amount of useless paper that I have to file away in my file cabinet, then occasionally purge and shred. It’s starting to bother me, though, that I don’t get much mail anymore. So I’m thinking about subscribing to a printed weekly magazine again, like the New Yorker or the Economist, just so I’ll have something showing up in my mailbox regularly. But I know I won’t have time to read either of those. So, maybe TV Guide?

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