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  • The problem:  Too much manual labor on finances, too much paper.
  • The resolution:  Review 2011 for the timesappers and eliminate them.
  • The long term solution:  Set up autopays, paperless billing and notifications.
  • Before:
    Already on autopay: 3
    Not on autopay: 7
    Already paperless: 1
    Not paperless: 9 – yikes!
    With text or e-mail notifications: 6
    Without text or e-mail notifications: 4
  • After:
    Autopay: 7
    Not on autopay: 3
    Paperless: 7
    Not paperless: 3
    With text or e-mail notifications: 8
    Without text or e-mail notifications: 2

Step by step:

  1. Make a list of all regularly occurring expenses or deposits, noting whether they are paperless, autopay, online, and provide notifications or alerts.
  2. Determine what is needed for tax records (mortgage, credit cards, banking statements) and set up an alert to download and store to secure location.
  3. Access or enroll in all online programs, change passwords, record information needed to access in secure location.
  4. Identify which accounts are EPP (equal payment plan) or can be EPP and enroll.
  5. For each account:  enable paperless, enable notifications and alerts, enable autopay
  6. For each *changed* account: pay existing balance, check accounts for the next 60 day to ensure they are being paid.
  7. Review the prior year for occasional payments such as insurance.
  8. Add autopay dates to calendar or financial program with alerts.
  9. As appropriate, review costs and contracts, make adjustments or changes as needed, set alerts for contract expirations.
  10. Schedule regular transfer from checking to savings.

A few issues did come up – one of the utilities only allows you to enroll in EPP in June, so I set an alert in Outlook for May so I’d be ready to go for that.  Still battling my way through enrolling in anything online for my internet/TV – even calling technical support doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere.  Not enrolling one of the credit cards for autopay was by choice, though I may change that down the line.  All in all I eliminated quite a few paper bills and one online bill paying day per month and one “drive around and pay the Luddites” day per month, which should save a good deal of time (and paper) over the course of the year.