Going Paperless Issues

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btenny
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Going Paperless Issues

Post by btenny » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm

My wife and I are trying to go completely paperless for our bills and payments and all our expenses. We are trying to get rid of all the bills that come in the mail and convert them to e-bill and e-pay of some sort. But this is proving harder than we expected. So now we have question how to do various things.

1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?

2. How easy or hard was it to set up various accounts to view your bill on line and see statements? We are having real issues doing this at all the various city and service companies. Some want pin numbers to log into our account but we do not have an account so how do we get a pin number? My wife is on hold right now for 15 minutes and counting for pin numbers. Other services show you the the account total due but no detailed statement without setting up more complex passwords for both of us. What do you do?

3. What records do you keep of these e-bills? Do you down load e-statements of everything you pay to your disk? What accounts? I am thinking I only need to download e-statement of our credit cards. What about auto pay of insurance bills? Utility bills? Am I missing some need to keep e-copies of some of these?

I would appreciate some insight into what others are doing in this area. Thanks in advance.

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
My wife and I are trying to go completely paperless for our bills and payments and all our expenses. We are trying to get rid of all the bills that come in the mail and convert them to e-bill and e-pay of some sort. But this is proving harder than we expected. So now we have question how to do various things.

1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?

I have all my monthly bills set up to be paid automatically either from a credit card or from my checking account.

2. How easy or hard was it to set up various accounts to view your bill on line and see statements? We are having real issues doing this at all the various city and service companies. Some want pin numbers to log into our account but we do not have an account so how do we get a pin number? My wife is on hold right now for 15 minutes and counting for pin numbers. Other services show you the the account total due but no detailed statement without setting up more complex passwords for both of us. What do you do?

Never had much trouble setting up online access to see statements. Usually if you have a paper statement you can set up online access on your own. In a worst-case scenario, it might take a call first. All of the utility and other bills that I have show everything online including detailed statements. For complex passwords, I use password management software.

3. What records do you keep of these e-bills? Do you down load e-statements of everything you pay to your disk? What accounts? I am thinking I only need to download e-statement of our credit cards. What about auto pay of insurance bills? Utility bills? Am I missing some need to keep e-copies of some of these?

I do download pdf statements for all of my accounts to my hard drive. I always keep a receipt if I do have to make a manual payment on something important like the annual homeowners insurance bill that is not set up to be paid automatically. The bills that are paid automatically send a "payment received" email although that is often optional.

Most accounts will also send an email when your statement is available for download. I don't download routine statements such as utilities monthly, probably quarterly or less. When I do my taxes I make sure I have all the statements for the year on file and organized to wrap up the prior year's finances. I do download all credit card statements monthly for review.


I would appreciate some insight into what others are doing in this area. Thanks in advance.

mrpotatoheadsays
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mrpotatoheadsays » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:41 pm

I do not do e-billing due to the issues you state.

What if my e-mail provider loses or blocks the message?
I would be responsible for any penalties.

How does the sender guarantee delivery?
They don't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

If the sender's electronic system had a glitch and failed to send the message, how would I prove that?
I can't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

I lose e-mails all the time through Google (internal spam filter) and my employer's systems, therefore I will continue to use snail mail until technology exceeds its reliability.

... and no, I'm not going to go around every service checking their web site or the banks web site to see if my bill is due. I have better things to do.

annielouise
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by annielouise » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:44 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm

1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?

We split our bills into 1st and 15th, so twice a month we either pay a bill or verify that it properly charged to the credit card. This is part of our budget spreadsheet, but could easily be done alone, even as a printout. Bills that don't get paid monthly are grayed out on the other months.
Emails come like clockwork, certainly better than USPS, who only deliver our mail a few times a week and never deliver about a quarter of it.


3. What records do you keep of these e-bills? Do you down load e-statements of everything you pay to your disk? What accounts? I am thinking I only need to download e-statement of our credit cards. What about auto pay of insurance bills? Utility bills? Am I missing some need to keep e-copies of some of these?

I download statements for all bills, bank accounts, etc. Even if I don't need them, they take up virtually no space on the computer.

I would appreciate some insight into what others are doing in this area. Thanks in advance.

mrpotatoheadsays
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mrpotatoheadsays » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:46 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 pm

I have all my monthly bills set up to be paid automatically either from a credit card or from my checking account.
I've read of people who had similar configurations. They drop dead and no one knows until they drain their accounts... months, possibly years later.

I do most everything manually.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:52 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
My wife and I are trying to go completely paperless for our bills and payments and all our expenses.
Why?

That is not a rhetorical question. What you are trying to achieve should affect the answers to the rest of you questions. If you are perepetatic
snail mail may not be useful, so it could make sense to take steps such as switching suppliers to get better billing. If you just feel an urge to be modern: Get over it, or live with the inconvenience of being hip. Fashion has always been painful.

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climber2020
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by climber2020 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:57 pm

I do everything electonically and have all my bills set to auto pay on either my credit card or auto-draft from my checking account. The initial setup can be a bit of a pain, but then you don't really have to do anything.

I get an email once a month from each company when my new bill comes out. I look at it to make sure it looks right (they've never been wrong) and then delete it.

I don't keep records of anything.

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:07 pm

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:46 pm
Pajamas wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 pm

I have all my monthly bills set up to be paid automatically either from a credit card or from my checking account.
I've read of people who had similar configurations. They drop dead and no one knows until they drain their accounts... months, possibly years later.

I do most everything manually.
That's silly. I think there are better ways to make sure someone finds out in a timely manner that you croaked than to avoid autopay. . . .

renue74
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by renue74 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:09 pm

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:46 pm
Pajamas wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:10 pm

I have all my monthly bills set up to be paid automatically either from a credit card or from my checking account.
I've read of people who had similar configurations. They drop dead and no one knows until they drain their accounts... months, possibly years later.

I do most everything manually.
Ummm...when people drop dead, other people manage their finances.

We set up many accounts to pay automatically...mortgage, utilities.

The ones we can't escape paper are doctors bills.

I've never had a dispute with a utility about payment, but if I do, I assume my credit card audit log would be enough to show them it was paid.

soccerrules
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by soccerrules » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:10 pm

climber2020 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:57 pm
I do everything electonically and have all my bills set to auto pay on either my credit card or auto-draft from my checking account. The initial setup can be a bit of a pain, but then you don't really have to do anything.

I get an email once a month from each company when my new bill comes out. I look at it to make sure it looks right (they've never been wrong) and then delete it.

I don't keep records of anything.
I am transitioning from "get bill in mail, use mobile app to set up future bill pay from checking, based on due date" to paying as many bills as possible with auto-pay to my credit card (points) and then paying credit card periodically through out the month with a transfer (Checking to CC).

My main concern is having my CC compromised and having bank shut down the account and reissue new card. Then I have to set-up all the accounts with a new CC number. (hassle)

I have an email folder and drop all communication/bills from Utilities into the folder. I also have mobile apps for most of the services to review bills,usage,payment etc.
Don't let your outflow exceed your income or your upkeep will be your downfall.

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:13 pm

soccerrules wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:10 pm

My main concern is having my CC compromised and having bank shut down the account and reissue new card. Then I have to set-up all the accounts with a new CC number. (hassle)
It takes less than a minute to log into an account and change the credit card number and/or expiration date, certainly no longer than paying manually online one time.

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CAsage
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by CAsage » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:20 pm

I keep it as simple as possible. All my city utility bills (water, electricity, gas) are set up to auto-debit from my checking account, and they send me an email to notify me of the amount. All my recurring commercial bills (Internet, Cell phone, Netflix, Pandora, Political or charitable donations) are set up to automatically charge to one credit card, which I review online. In none of those cases do I review those before payment (pre-approved, right?) nor do I ever keep copies or (god forbid!) print them out. I have NEVER had a problem (since 1986). For medical, the dentist mails me a bill, and I use online billpay to mail them back a check. For insurance, I pay online, again, no problem.

I do review my credit cards frequently and pay them by pulling from checking to the bank sites. Note that I have no payments or bank links on my phone due to security concerns - but that's just me.

I suspect you are overly worried about having to prove things. There is always a bank statement trace of the funds, and most businesses show payments for prior month. Worry less, they do this a lot.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

software
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by software » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:30 pm

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:41 pm
I do not do e-billing due to the issues you state.

What if my e-mail provider loses or blocks the message?
I would be responsible for any penalties.

How does the sender guarantee delivery?
They don't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

If the sender's electronic system had a glitch and failed to send the message, how would I prove that?
I can't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

I lose e-mails all the time through Google (internal spam filter) and my employer's systems, therefore I will continue to use snail mail until technology exceeds its reliability.

... and no, I'm not going to go around every service checking their web site or the banks web site to see if my bill is due. I have better things to do.
It seems that the premise of this argument is that the mail system is somehow bulletproof.

I’ve been auto paying for years with zero issues, and in that same time I’ve had letters go missing, delivered to the wrong house, misplaced, etc...

ThriftyPhD
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ThriftyPhD » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:42 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?
Some banks have online bill pay. If you register your ebills there, your bank can notify you when the bill arrives, and also give you a warning when the bill is close to due if you haven't yet paid it. The company that is billing you will often do the same thing. And, each time you login to your bank, you'll see a list of bills to be paid. There isn't a need to log into each company charging you if your bank provides this service. Note that you can setup the bank to just collect the ebills, and manually pay them rather than setting up autopay. That way you can review the bills before payment.
btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
2. How easy or hard was it to set up various accounts to view your bill on line and see statements? We are having real issues doing this at all the various city and service companies. Some want pin numbers to log into our account but we do not have an account so how do we get a pin number? My wife is on hold right now for 15 minutes and counting for pin numbers. Other services show you the the account total due but no detailed statement without setting up more complex passwords for both of us. What do you do?
Most are simple, and if you have a large bank with a good ebill system it might handle requesting ebills for you. There will always be small places that don't do ebills, so likely not possible to get rid of all snail mail bills, but you can get close.
btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
3. What records do you keep of these e-bills? Do you down load e-statements of everything you pay to your disk? What accounts? I am thinking I only need to download e-statement of our credit cards. What about auto pay of insurance bills? Utility bills? Am I missing some need to keep e-copies of some of these?
I download pdfs and keep forever. Unlike paper records, they don't take up any space, so why go through the trouble of deciding how long to keep when you can keep forever with no cost.
mrpotatoheadsays wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:41 pm
I do not do e-billing due to the issues you state.

What if my e-mail provider loses or blocks the message?
I would be responsible for any penalties.

How does the sender guarantee delivery?
They don't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

If the sender's electronic system had a glitch and failed to send the message, how would I prove that?
I can't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

I lose e-mails all the time through Google (internal spam filter) and my employer's systems, therefore I will continue to use snail mail until technology exceeds its reliability.

... and no, I'm not going to go around every service checking their web site or the banks web site to see if my bill is due. I have better things to do.
If you're losing emails all the time, can you reset your google spam filter? To my knowledge, I've never had anything filtered out that wasn't spam, and I check the spam folder occasionally. You can also white list domains so that they never get marked as spam. Employer systems can be much harsher on filtering spam, and might have a lot of real email incorrectly removed. However, I would never use my work email for personal finance.

You're much more likely to have snail mail lost or mis-delivered than an email, especially if you white list the companies you deal with. And if you setup ebills in online banking, there is no email to be lost.

quantAndHold
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:45 pm

We switched everything to auto pay a couple of years ago. Most of it is paid with the credit card that has the best rewards, or from the checking account if the vendor doesn’t want to take credit cards. It hasn’t been flawless. I’d say the error rate is about the same as when we were using paper. One vendor in particular seems to have issues every time we set up a new credit card (I switched cards once, and then a few months later it got breached), but they don’t charge late fees, so I just fix the problem, pay the bill, and go on with life.

The emails all go into a folder in gmail. Once a month I look at them, check the accounts, and make sure nothing is wrong and no emails are missing. I also added a list of accounts to my “what to do if I die” document, so that someone can figure things out later.

This is all much easier and faster than the paper method used to be, and I can still manage it when we’re on the road.

As far as the gmail spam filter, if you go into your spam folder every once in awhile and mark anything that’s not spam as “not spam,” it will fix itself.

jebmke
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by jebmke » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:47 pm

We try to put most things on credit cards or direct debit. The number of paper bills we receive is small.

With everything aggregated it is easy to manage cash flow. 90%+ of the outflow occurs either at the beginning of the month (DDs) or mid-month (CCs). A few bills come by email - our lawn service, tree service etc email me the bills after they finish their jobs. Same for our contractor who does home improvement type stuff.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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Toons
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Toons » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:50 pm

No email
99.9% of mine are auto debit from a checking account
Utilities
Insurance,Health ,auto home
Cell phone
internet bill
I pay property tax at my discretion.
Those are my "bills"
:happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

btenny
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by btenny » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:36 pm

I am doing this to eliminate all the paper that comes in the mail box. We move around a lot and travel a good deal and all that paper is a PIA. Some of it is always getting lost and unless we go paperless the various companies will not let us review the bill online. So we are trying to automate it and not have to worry that stuff is getting paid. Plus this really reduces all the checks my wife was writing.

The thing we had the most trouble with was getting on line access to all the various accounts. Every account has different security access methods and passwords and so forth. They were a real PIA to set up but I think we have it under control after some long phone calls.

Now we only have to watch out for the things that will still come in the mail. Things like the property taxes, the pool guy, the lawn guy and some medical bills are still paper.

And of course we still have to make sure the bills are really deducted and paid each month by checking our checking account. Not too much different.

Thanks.....

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midareff
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by midareff » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:48 pm

Toons wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:50 pm
No email
99.9% of mine are auto debit from a checking account
Utilities
Insurance,Health ,auto home
Cell phone
internet bill
I pay property tax at my discretion.
Those are my "bills"
:happy
No email
92% of mine are auto charge to a 2% cash back credit card which is set to auto-pay in full monthly against our checking account.
Utilities - Electric auto-pays against the checking account.
Insurance,Health - mine auto-pays against our checking account, wife's is auto deducted from my pension. Home (condo insurance) is one check I write a year.
Auto, when I had a payment it was auto-deduct against checking. Geico bills my 2% cash back credit card.
Cell phone - Consumer Cellular auto bill 2% cash back credit card.
internet bill - charge to 2% cash back credit card. Netflix - charge to 2% cash back credit card.
I pay property tax at my discretion the end of November for a 4% credit. Debit to bank account.

Easy peasy..... no muss no fuss, no bother. Check anything in a couple of seconds. LastPass tracks all the sites and has all the passwords.

Those are my "bills"
:happy

Caduceus
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Caduceus » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:10 pm

I have gone completely paperless, but I don't use auto-pay, because I need to keep track of the bills as they are due anyway, to check for errors and other things, so the point of time when I make the payment is also when I verify the amount and other details.

I think my life is simpler than most of the posters here because I only use one credit card (and all my backup credit cards are synchronized to the same payment date anyway). I realized that it was just not worth it trying to squeeze a percentage point more in rewards. It's much simpler to see all purchases on one credit card.

I also pay my bills annually in one payment if the provider allows it, usually at the end of the year (for the next year), which means that I only get one statement a year. My cellphone bill is prepaid, which is taken care of by one lump sum payment every January. I don't have a TV or a Netflix subscription.

I do a backup every six months. And I do an archival backup once every five years.

annielouise
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by annielouise » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:14 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:36 pm
I am doing this to eliminate all the paper that comes in the mail box. We move around a lot and travel a good deal and all that paper is a PIA. Some of it is always getting lost and unless we go paperless the various companies will not let us review the bill online. So we are trying to automate it and not have to worry that stuff is getting paid. Plus this really reduces all the checks my wife was writing.

The thing we had the most trouble with was getting on line access to all the various accounts. Every account has different security access methods and passwords and so forth. They were a real PIA to set up but I think we have it under control after some long phone calls.

Now we only have to watch out for the things that will still come in the mail. Things like the property taxes, the pool guy, the lawn guy and some medical bills are still paper.

And of course we still have to make sure the bills are really deducted and paid each month by checking our checking account. Not too much different.

Thanks.....
Do have access yet to informed delivery from USPS? Then you will know what is being delivered every day ( or, in our case, is supposed to be delivered, but isn't). Doesn't include catalogs, magazines, and store ads, but we only get a few of those ourselves.

bob60014
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by bob60014 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:23 pm

We've been autopaying for years, no issues. We try to use a credit card that accrues points in as many instances as possible, then payoff monthly. All others are ACH debits from checking.

Traveller
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Traveller » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:28 pm

All my bills except my insurance company ( home, auto, umbrella) are set to auto pay on a credit card that is only used for such bills. My insurance company charges something like an 8% penalty for credit card payments, so I have them set to auto-draft an online checking account.

The credit card mentioned above is setup to auto pay against this same online checking account. I direct deposit to that same checking account each month just enough to cover my monthly bills. That checking account isn't used for anything else.

This setup has GREATLY simplified my bill paying life. I login to my credit card and bank accounts online just before the credit card will auto draft its balance and make sure everything looks correct. If something is wrong, I can dispute it with the original company or the credit card company. In many many years, that hasn't happened.

I travel extensively and knowing that my bills are being taken care of on time is a great comfort to me.

I haven't seen a paper bill for anything except my property taxes in over 8 years.

obgraham
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by obgraham » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:25 pm

Like others, we have been completely paperless since 2005. Never once have I "lost an email", or had to pay some sort of late fee. All our bills are paid automatically. Most send me an email when they are paid, but in any case, I can see it when I look at my (online) bank account. I also no longer use a bank with a real building.

We can debate whether it's better to "push or pull", or to pay via bank account or credit card. Fine. But there's no way in hades that I'd go back to paying all this stuff manually and mailing out checks.

I do save a copy of all my bills, downloaded every few months to a folder marked "finance2018" or such. Probably overkill, but I'm OCD that way. Much easier than storing all that paper in a shoe box.

obgraham
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by obgraham » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:28 pm

Like others, we have been completely paperless since 2005. Never once have I "lost an email", or had to pay some sort of late fee. All our bills are paid automatically. Most send me an email when they are paid, but in any case, I can see it when I look at my (online) bank account. I also no longer use a bank with a real building.

We can debate whether it's better to "push or pull", or to pay via bank account or credit card. Fine. But there's no way in hades that I'd go back to paying all this stuff manually and mailing out checks.

I do save a copy of all my bills, downloaded every few months to a folder marked "finance2018" or such. Probably overkill, but I'm OCD that way. Much easier than storing all that paper in a shoe box.

I pay my property taxes online via direct bank debit because the county charges a higher fee to use a credit card. So be it.

mouses
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mouses » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:31 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:13 pm
soccerrules wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:10 pm

My main concern is having my CC compromised and having bank shut down the account and reissue new card. Then I have to set-up all the accounts with a new CC number. (hassle)
It takes less than a minute to log into an account and change the credit card number and/or expiration date, certainly no longer than paying manually online one time.
Let's be more realistic and say it takes five minutes. Times fifteen accounts...

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by DaftInvestor » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:31 pm

OP - you are worried you won't get emails?
This gave me a chuckle as my experience has been the opposite.
I've had paper bills lost in the snail-mail but have never had electronic bills lost. One of the advantages of going paperless years ago wss not having to worry about my bills being misdelivered to my neighbors (I still routinley recieve their paper bills and hand delvier to them). Before paperless billing I was late on a credit card since I forgot I used that particular card and then didn't get the Bill- I have never had that issue since going paperless.
As a stop gap at the end of the month you can have a checklist and review that everything was received and paid.

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:44 pm

mouses wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:31 pm
Pajamas wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:13 pm
soccerrules wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:10 pm

My main concern is having my CC compromised and having bank shut down the account and reissue new card. Then I have to set-up all the accounts with a new CC number. (hassle)
It takes less than a minute to log into an account and change the credit card number and/or expiration date, certainly no longer than paying manually online one time.
Let's be more realistic and say it takes five minutes. Times fifteen accounts...
Okay, so it takes much less time than it takes you to pay manually online. It certainly doesn't take me more than a minute to change payment information on an account, but it doesn't take me any longer to pay my insurance bill, either, and I don't save the payment information on websites that are not autopay other than Amazon. I can't imagine why it would take you more than a minute or perhaps two unless you are blind and having to rely on hearing everything read to you or similar. I do have a friend who is legally blind who even has difficulty with an ATM so I guess I shouldn't generalize.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:30 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
My wife and I are trying to go completely paperless for our bills and payments and all our expenses. We are trying to get rid of all the bills that come in the mail and convert them to e-bill and e-pay of some sort. But this is proving harder than we expected. So now we have question how to do various things.

1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?

2. How easy or hard was it to set up various accounts to view your bill on line and see statements? We are having real issues doing this at all the various city and service companies. Some want pin numbers to log into our account but we do not have an account so how do we get a pin number? My wife is on hold right now for 15 minutes and counting for pin numbers. Other services show you the the account total due but no detailed statement without setting up more complex passwords for both of us. What do you do?

3. What records do you keep of these e-bills? Do you down load e-statements of everything you pay to your disk? What accounts? I am thinking I only need to download e-statement of our credit cards. What about auto pay of insurance bills? Utility bills? Am I missing some need to keep e-copies of some of these?

I would appreciate some insight into what others are doing in this area. Thanks in advance.
We have been completely paperless since a year or so ago when the last of our utilities finally relented and offered a paperless option. I would never go back.

1. I have far more confidence in receiving e-mail notifications from the worst of our billers than I do in the USPS ensuring that I receive a paper bill. If you are anxious that you might not receive a notification that your bill is due, you can view your check register to get an idea of when you paid it the previous month to see if it is getting close to being due. If it is, you can go online to see the statement.

2. It has been very simple for us--no significant issues that I recall. A quality password manager is a huge help. I can not think of a bill that I get for which I can not easily access an online statement that has the same information that a mailed statement would provide.

3. I keep no records of any except for the downloading of credit card statements. DW doesn't even do that for her CCs.

The more you use electronic billing and payment, the more comfortable you will become with it. It is a real time-saver for me.

ElwoodBlues
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ElwoodBlues » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:27 pm

I'm still tweaking my setup, but I'm aiming for a final state something like this:

1. Core utilities (Water/sewer, Electric, Gas) are setup at the vendor for automatic ACH from a checking account. I figure the last thing I need is those to be cut off due to an expired or cancelled credit card that a system or service rep forgot to notify on. Mortgage and insurance may also have to go here as they may not allow CC payments.

2. Other major recurring bills (Internet/phone, wireless, satellite TV, etc.) are auto-billed by the provider to a credit card, both for convenience and for cashback points. I would still review some of them monthly, like wireless usage, but even if there is a billing error, once you win your argument with customer service, they would just credit your account the following month anyhow.

3. Credit card bills, annual property taxes, medical bills - manually initiated bill pay from online banking. You may also have the option of using e-bill, where your get your billing statement and notification through your bank. In this case, I believe you can optionally set these for auto-pay. This option might be appealing in combination with having a dedicated credit card for the recurring bills in #2. (Earn cashback & still be fully automated.)

As others have eluded to, it is probably best that both spouses are familiar with at least the basics of what has been setup, and a little bit of documentation probably goes a long way in the event of the primary bill payer's death. Assuming adequate documentation and email/password access, I would see the continued automation as a pro rather than a con, as the bills would continue to be paid on time while the surviving family has time to sort things out.

As for PDF statements, I log in periodically and download them all. My plan is to hoard them more than paper statements previously, as the cost to store them all is minimal. What I would really love is to find a Windows utility that could be configured similar to (or work with) a password manager to fully automate logging in to the various vendors, downloading the statements, and sorting them into the desired PC folder locations. Anyone seen anything close to that? :?:

After mastering all that, the ultimate is actually shutting down paper statements altogether. USPS Informed Delivery is handy for spotting for potential issues, but I figure the fewer identity-theft-target-documents laying the mailbox, the better.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:29 pm

Addendum to my prior post:

All bills that can be paid via credit card are unless there is a fee for doing so. And usually paid with the CC offering the best rewards for that particular bill.

The only bills I pay via autopay are those that (1) require autopay--only a couple, or (2) are always going to be the same amount each and every month for a year or more. That is more of a control issue of mine than anything else, so probably just extra effort for me for no good reason. If there is variation, I want to make sure I take at least a quick peek at it.

mouses
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mouses » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:32 am

I have two problems with depending on email.

First, my ISP wrecked its email system some months ago. It is quote common for people to tell me they sent me email and I've never received it or it has bounced back to them as no such user.

Second, I added a gmail account as my primary account because of this. There is no way that I know of to stop gmail from spam filtering, and I would say 3/4 of what it considers spam is valid email. I use thunderbird, so that means I have to remember once a week or so to access gmail through my browser to see if it has put anything in spam.

(If someone knows how to get thunderbird to download gmail "spam" or to turn off gmail spam filtering, please let me know. Thanks.)

garzjoh
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by garzjoh » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:43 am

Many years ago, I switched most accounts to electronic only.

I do most of my bills late at night. Twice I had a system "down for maintenance" and I couldn't get anything that night.

Then, I closed an account and they immediately cut off online access leaving no access to historical statements.

After that, I said never again. Paper in the mail for everything.

ElwoodBlues
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ElwoodBlues » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:04 am

garzjoh wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:43 am
Many years ago, I switched most accounts to electronic only.

I do most of my bills late at night. Twice I had a system "down for maintenance" and I couldn't get anything that night.

Then, I closed an account and they immediately cut off online access leaving no access to historical statements.

After that, I said never again. Paper in the mail for everything.
Going back to the drudgery of all paper bill pay for those reasons seems a little short sighted.

Web sites need periodic maintenance, and the better ones will usually schedule it during off-peak hours (like after midnight on a Sunday for example). Some even publish their schedule. Some of my financial service sites will post a notice at the top of the login page if a maintenance window is coming soon. If you were being surprised by these frequently and without notice, perhaps another bank with a better managed online banking site would be a good change. (Admittedly, inertia with a basic banking provider is strong sometimes, and we are reluctant to go through the hassle to change.)

As for closing an account and expecting to retain online access, that seems unrealistic. In that scenario, I would expect to need to download all my statements and any other information I wanted prior to closing the account. Once you close the account, their obligation to you is finished, thus no more online service, right?

Even if you don't go full paperless with all the statements, I'd encourage you to at least try the online bill pay again, especially if your previous experience was years ago. I've watched my online banking site get better and better over the past few years. Login, select a payee, type in the amount, select the payment date....Done! :happy

garzjoh
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by garzjoh » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:01 pm

Sorry for cryptic comments while typing on phone.

I'm not sure I understand equating electronic statements to electronic bill payments? The concepts are exclusive of each other.

Everyone should pay electronically regardless of statement delivery method. It is the best protection against late fees and provides evidence of payment even if the recipient doesn't cash the check.

As for getting access to electronic documents after closing an account, it is an expectation and many institutions do provide it. When a company promises record retention for 18 months, they should honor that.

I have had plenty of times where the change was through no control of mine (e.g. company changes insurance provider, moved outside of credit unions geographic region)

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Pretzel lover
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pretzel lover » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:04 pm

All autopay with cc if possible as many others have mentioned (points). Otherwise ACH to checking.

Lots of good tips above for downloading statements, etc.

I would add- make a list of all accounts that pay on each card or checking account so you can switch them if you need to make a change!

mouses
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mouses » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:08 pm

ElwoodBlues wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:04 am

As for closing an account and expecting to retain online access, that seems unrealistic.
I would say that half the credit unions I have accounts at retain a closed account's online records for a year or two. The rest vanish instantaneously.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:37 pm

I receive less than one bill a month via snail mail.

I have set my accounts up to pay via rewards credit card if accepted, and no fee assessed. All credit cards set to auto pay, with email alerts for any charge, availability of online statement, and payment due date approaching, payment received.

Lawn man receives a bill pay check from my credit union, setup as continuous. Our credit union guarantees if a check doesn't make it to the biller on requested date they will pay any overdue charges. Money is not taken from account until bill pay check is cashed.

Real estate taxis paid four times a year via bill pay, they receive the funds electronically.

Thus far after a few years I have had zero problems with anything I have set up. Easy to administer, time saving. Works for me.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Monster99
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Monster99 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:03 pm

Had my cc compromised (twice) - after rhe second time, I now do everything though snail mail...

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:51 pm

garzjoh wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:01 pm
Sorry for cryptic comments while typing on phone.

I'm not sure I understand equating electronic statements to electronic bill payments? The concepts are exclusive of each other.

Everyone should pay electronically regardless of statement delivery method. It is the best protection against late fees and provides evidence of payment even if the recipient doesn't cash the check.

As for getting access to electronic documents after closing an account, it is an expectation and many institutions do provide it. When a company promises record retention for 18 months, they should honor that.

I have had plenty of times where the change was through no control of mine (e.g. company changes insurance provider, moved outside of credit unions geographic region)
How does your having paper statements fix the problem of no online access? You still have no online access the only difference is that with paper You need to hope your mail gets to you and you need to deal with organizing all the paper - with online you can download all PDFs in a folder. In both cases - you might lose access to reobtaining statements easily when you close your account.

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Monster99 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:03 pm
Had my cc compromised (twice) - after rhe second time, I now do everything though snail mail...
As long as you are using registered mail for everything, you should be okay.

JHU ALmuni
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by JHU ALmuni » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:13 pm

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:41 pm
I do not do e-billing due to the issues you state.

What if my e-mail provider loses or blocks the message?
I would be responsible for any penalties.

How does the sender guarantee delivery?
They don't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

If the sender's electronic system had a glitch and failed to send the message, how would I prove that?
I can't. I would be responsible for any penalties.

I lose e-mails all the time through Google (internal spam filter) and my employer's systems, therefore I will continue to use snail mail until technology exceeds its reliability.

... and no, I'm not going to go around every service checking their web site or the banks web site to see if my bill is due. I have better things to do.
Been using e-billing for a decade and in various cities/states and never experienced any of the above issue... Regular mail isn't 100% guaranteed to be delivered as well. Last week I got a piece of mail for someone in Colorado and I live in Florida :oops:

kaudrey
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by kaudrey » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:46 pm

climber2020 wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:57 pm
I do everything electonically and have all my bills set to auto pay on either my credit card or auto-draft from my checking account. The initial setup can be a bit of a pain, but then you don't really have to do anything.

I get an email once a month from each company when my new bill comes out. I look at it to make sure it looks right (they've never been wrong) and then delete it.

I don't keep records of anything.
+1

Although I push a few from my bank account. Either way, same result. I have never had a problem.

As to the person who is concerned about bills being paid perpetually after dropping dead....I have a file in my safe, which my partner and my sister know how to access, that includes, in addition to my will, health care proxy etc, also contains a sheet of paper with my all of my accounts and relevant pertinent information (for example, "Cable, charged monthly to Credit Card #1", another might say "Gas Company X, withdrawn automatically from checking account". All with actual names and account numbers etc, listed on this sheet.

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mickeyd
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mickeyd » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:17 pm

I still refuse to go paperless unless I'm compensated for it. AT&T paid me $20 to convert. What if I am not able to access my account due to interruption (remember Puerto Rico) or other breakdown. I eventually get it all delivered to my mailbox and review it, mark it up, file it away. I can always pull up a more recent version online and I do not have to print it on my paper.
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incowtown
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by incowtown » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:25 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:32 am

(If someone knows how to get thunderbird to download gmail "spam" or to turn off gmail spam filtering, please let me know. Thanks.)
I switched to gmail because it was the only one I could figure out how to set it so nothing went to spam. :happy
You create a "never send to spam" filter for any address containing @.

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AAA
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by AAA » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:53 pm

I do as much paperless as I can, the reason being that the mail in our area has been spotty the past few years - I get other people's mail occasionally and I assume other people get mine (and then hopefully put it in our mailbox). The one exception is the credit card bill, which I still get in the mail although I go online to pay it. I guess I do it that way as I would end up printing it myself to check everything off if I had it e-delivered. The full credit card number is not printed anywhere on the bill.

I am annoyed that my pension statement comes in the mail every month and there is no option for having it e-delivered.

UpperNwGuy
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Location: Washington DC

Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by UpperNwGuy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:10 pm

I am totally paperless, but I don't like automatic payments. I don't rely on emails to tell me I have a bill to be paid. I have a calendar showing the date each bill is issued. One or two days later I log into the account, review the amount, pay the bill, and save the payment confirmation as a PDF file. It's that easy.

bayview
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by bayview » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:38 pm

We are paperless except for one remaining old-school city utility bill. (We're working on them. :D )

We e-pay from our USAA checking account, meaning that we "push" the payment from our bank account to the credit card company (or whomever.) I still prefer to "pull" the payment by making the payment on the credit card company's webpage, and I still do this for my own bills, but DH runs the family bills, and this is his preference. I figure that whoever is doing the work calls the shots.

We do NOT set this up to automatically pay what's due, month after month after month. It's very easy to see when each bill is due each month, and by law, these dates don't vary by more than a few days unless you are given plenty of prior notice that your regular due date is changing, as recently happened on my Verizon account. So we know that bills A, B, and C are due during the first week of the month, D, E, and F during the second, and so forth. DH checks the balances due throughout the month (these are generally posted a good 3 weeks before they are due), does a quick eyeball for anything fishy, and sets up the payment for maybe three days before the due date. We've never had a problem. (We don't set payment for the due date, or for one day before, because Stuff Happens.)

If he is for some reason unable to do this (ill, hospitalized, in a yurt in Tibet without internet), I do it.

There's nothing scary or challenging about it. We actually would have a harder time keeping track of paper bills than electronic.
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

Saving$
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Saving$ » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:08 pm

I had this same issue, and researched aggregation services, as I don't want to remember 10+ username & passwords etc. for different sites.
Finally pulled the trigger 3 years ago. I evaluated the aggregation sites available at the time and settled on Finovera www.finovera.com
You can read a review about my initial research and one year update here:
viewtopic.php?t=132308

When I signed up it stated it was free and would always be free, but their website no longer says that, so I don't know current status. Still free for me. There have been some "growing pains" but all in I prefer that hassle to the hassle of either paper bills, or logging onto multiple websites periodically.

I still don't connect asset accounts such as 401k, etc. on Finovera, only invoices (utilities, mortgage, etc) and credit card accounts. Log onto one website, and all those invoices are there. Log onto a few other sites quarterly for the asset accounts. Whenever possible, I opt for tax statements to be snail mailed. If something happens to me and my best laid plans don't work out, that offers another chance for my executor to get the info on asset location.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:11 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:53 pm
Monster99 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:03 pm
Had my cc compromised (twice) - after rhe second time, I now do everything though snail mail...
As long as you are using registered mail for everything, you should be okay.
...And using money orders versus personal checks that have your routing number and account number on them.

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