Green Idea #1

Work this week has been absolutely crazy, so I haven’t had time to discover what is going on in the world or politics, but I have made the time for a little project of mine: going paperless.
Paperless offices are a huge buzzword, these days, and mine is so far from it, I feel that we actually are responsible for at least 3 rain forests being hewn down in the last year. But I decided it was time for my home to be.
I hate mail. I hate filing bills. I really hate bills. And I don’t care for most other paper things in my home…they just clutter things up. We’ve made the switch to E-Bills with our bank, and have started using Microsoft Money for keeping up with our finances. Now, before this, our “method” for tracking our finances was a notebook with scribbles and corrections all over it, a checkbook registry that rarely got updated with anything besides what cleared the bank that day in our online account, and my adamant avoidance of everything to do with figuring out a budget. Our bills got put into piles of varying degrees of organization, and eventually lost. At least one day per week, the wife and I would panic and try to remember what was due, frantically search for the bill, or find it online, and pay it (typically 1 day late).
Needless to say, organizing our life has turned out to be a monumental, but incredibly rewarding process. Most of our bills can be billed directly to our online bill payment account with our bank. Everything gets put into Microsoft Money, with pop-up warnings starting 5 days before a bill is due. Best of all (for me anyway), is that many of these, I can pay simply by clicking a button in Microsoft Money. We download our statements daily to reconcile them with our registry.
Our switch to paperless not only helps the environment, but actually makes our lives very much easier, and vastly more organized. It was quite a bit of work to get set up, in my opinion. However, once it’s done, I find it to be well worth the time invested. MS Money basically asks for every piece of information about your entire life. And somewhere in the switch, our registry got out of sync with our bank account, and we can’t find our lost money. But other than a few such hiccups, I’m calling Operation Paperless House a rousing success.
Note that Microsoft Money is not the only program that works such wonders (and we have not even begun to touch the surface of…Deluxe edition can help set up a budget, provide cash flow reports, help control spending, plan for the future, and invest!), I understand that Quicken is also quite good. We chose Money because the interface is prettier, and I like to look at pretty shiny things. It seems more user friendly to me as well, but this is based solely on casual and biased observation.
If your bank doesn’t offer online bill pay, or online bill presentation, MyCheckFree.com offers a scaled down version of their Bank services for free. They don’t seem to have a whole heck of a lot of bills available (Sadly, AT&T Wireless is missing), but Entergy and other utilities abound there. I have looked at it, and it also is pretty easy to use.

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