Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paperless or paper bills?

Bernie from Apartment Prepper engaged in a discussion with Matt, Survivalwoman, and Susan about going paperless or having hard copies.  I do both and I’d like to provide reasons for both ways.  Many of my bills and financial statements are retrievable on line but I like to keep hard copies too.  As long as I have a computer, electricity, and internet EMP or power outage then I can look at the files on line or on my hard drive. 

I have it set up so I can retrieve copies of my statements on line at any time.  I also have things set up so my bills are almost all automatically paid.  I do not use the auto payment on most of the websites.  I have it set up on my credit union site to pay the bills.  The recurring bills are set up to be paid each month.  The electric company sends the bill to the bank and then I have it to pay that bill on time each month.  The electric company doesn’t send me a bill but I do have the ability to download the bill since a copy of the entire bill is sent to the credit union.  On charge cards I do have it set up to automatically pay it in full each month.  I can review the bill on line and a reminder email is sent to me.  I also have a hardcopy of the bill sent to me each month. 

Bills are never sent to my house.  I have a PO Box that costs $20 a year at the local post office.  I know that some people may want more privacy and hold PO Boxes at businesses rather than at the real post office.  I use the post office.  I only pick up the mail about once a month since I see the bill in most instances on line anyway.    

I never really thought much about keeping the bills in one place or making it convenient for someone other than myself.  That all changed almost four years ago when my son, daughter-in-law, and their infant son were in an auto accident.  My daughter-in-law was in the hospital for several months.  I said that I’d take over their bills.  Do you know how hard it is to track down bills for someone who lives out of state and the person in the family who knows all that stuff is in the hospital in a coma?  Especially if some of those bills are only retrievable on line with no hard copies?  And no, credit card companies and mortgage companies don’t really care if daughter-in-law was in a coma and son had a concussion and couldn’t think straight.  It took months to get it straight and it made their credit pretty bad…  Oh well, lesson learned.  

What I did for them I ended up doing for myself.  I have hard copies of all bills that I keep for anywhere between a couple months and a year.  I want a hard copy showing that I paid the bill in full and on time.  I have a 3" wide cardboard priority mail box that I got at the post office to hold my bills.  I cut it down to six inches high.  I have file folders in it; one for each bill, even once or twice a year bills like the dentist.  On the front of each folder I write the account number, the date the bill is due, and if I have an online account the name and password.  The password is in code so if someone did get hold of the file only people that I’ve given the code to can find out the passwords. 

It's an easy system to keep a paper copy and it sure makes it easy if someone has to take over your bills for a month or two or six. 

How do I do passwords?  Numbers are peoples birth months.  For example, if I needed to write 48 I’d know that my sister’s birthday is in April and my other sister’s is in August.  I’d write Sarah Rachel.  I also pick fun words in the passwords so if the password is 48potato I’d write Sarah Rachel potato spinach tomatoes.  The people who know my password system know that the proper names are the numbers and the first word is the actual word.  The rest of the words are just to make it more fun. 

The safe combination is right above the safe tacked to the wall.  2LSarahRachel, 1RJoeDave, 3LGertrudeAlvin, 2R ArnoldJoe, 2L Carl.  Of course my sister’s who know the trick know there isn’t a relative Gertrude or Arnold!  So it would be 2 left 48 (April August), 1 right 32 (March February), 2 left 12 (December).  Easy!  Or it is once you try it. 

1 comment:

  1. Passwords are another challenge-always having to come up with a new one. I like your password system, I may have to write about that one. Will link to your system when I do. Thanks!!