Reducing Paper Clutter (& a Giveaway from AboutOne) CLOSED

photo source

This week on LifeasMOM is all about Loving Life — finding ways to help each of us enjoy life a little more. And paper clutter is one of those things that can just sap all the love out of life.

While I have seen some small successes in email management over the last year, I must confess something. I tend to hoard my paper. I have phone bills from ten years ago.

Yes, yes, I do.

Why are you keeping that?

It’s terrible. My husband watches me file stacks of paper a couple times a year and asks, “Why are you keeping that?” Well, because my dad always did. It’s what you do, isn’t it?

Yet, although I have files and files of paperwork, it’s a lot of work to maintain and sometimes even difficult to locate the information that I know I have. That can be so aggravating.

Recently, though, I realized that if I can get a duplicate phone bill from the phone company, there really is no reason for me to keep one.

Yes, I know, genius, aren’t I?

In fact, I found out that I can get extra copies of utility bills, bank statements, and even scans of cleared checks — at all hours of the day and night — via the internet. It is an amazing world we live in. It struck me that if it can be digitized, it can be replaced.

And I don’t have to file it!

photo source

So, with this newfound knowledge in hand, I’m embarking on a new journey — reducing paper clutter. And if you’re with me, I’ve got a great giveaway for you this week from AboutOne.

Reduce Paper Clutter

AboutOne has been designed to help you eliminate those piles of paper, manuals, and duplicate documents. It answers a need to keep accurate records, preserve memories and access household information.

More than a digital filing cabinet, AboutOne automatically combines all your entries to save you time on everyday family admin activities, including

  • producing family newsletters
  • updating scrapbooks
  • preparing hardcover photo albums
  • creating and mailing holiday cards
  • completing school forms
  • filling out college applications
  • preparing caregiver instructions
  • filing tax returns

You can try AboutOne’s services for free for a limited time or you can win a subscription this week!

Five LifeasMOM readers will each receive a year subscription to AboutOne while everyone else who enters will receive 20% off a follow-on subscription to their Free Passport.

To enter, simply complete the fields in this form. You must leave an email address so that AboutOne can contact you with your prize or discount code at the end of the giveaway period.

The entry form will be open until 8 pm PST, Sunday, February 13. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email.

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to lmarusa@
Disclosure: AboutOne is a paid advertiser of LifeasMOM.

This week is all about Loving Life. Check out the wealth of ideas for making the most of every minute.

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  1. I so need help doing this. We will need to move when my husband finds a job and I’d love to have gotten rid of, without anxiety, the paper clutter before we go.

  2. As a former software developer, I feel the need to urge everyone to *please* encrypt any sensitive information before uploading it to any form of online backup system. Use a different password for the encryption than you use for getting into your account.

    Too many people just throw all their sensitive information up on the Internet, trusting the company at the other end to keep it secure. How much do you know about that company’s security policies?

    I use a company that I previously worked for to store my online backups. I know that they follow the best of security practices, because I’ve seen those security practices in effect. However, if I would not post the information to a public forum, I encrypt it before I send it to them. It’s just good sense.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @tuxgirl, great points. Thanks for letting us newbies know. (Though I have no clue what it means to encrypt before I send.)

      • @Jessica Fisher,
        Good question. Sorry, some of us techies tend to talk without thinking about whether we are making sense 🙂

        Encryption scrambles up the information in such a way that you can only get to it if you have the correct key. There are lots of encryption systems available for download on the internet. Generally, if they say they have a “proprietary” method of encryption, they aren’t as good as the ones that will actually list exactly what encryption method they use. (Yeah, that may not make sense, but if you’ll trust me on it, I’ll just say that it’s true… more eyes on the method of encryption, the more secure it’s going to end up being).

        I personally use software called GPG, but there are lots of other systems out there. In fact, one of the most common ways is to put the files into a password-protected zip file. While it’s not the *best* security, it’s enough that unless your data is particularly enticing (the hacker knows who you are and that you have something he/she wants), a hacker will probably skip over you and go to easier targets. It’s like with hiking. You don’t have to have perfect encryption. You just have to be better than most. There’s enough sensitive information in an average online backup system that’s not encrypted that it doesn’t make sense for a hacker to waste his/her time trying to crack into the encrypted information. 🙂

        Does that help? I think most free zip utilities do offer password-protected zip files, so that’s a good option for beginners.

  3. {sigh} I save my phone bills too. I even have cell phone bills for phones we no longer have and companies that no longer exist. I have water and electric bills from our first rental home – now 11 years old! Why do I do it? Same reason as you – my mom has all of their documents from 50 years of marriage. You save it because you never know when you’ll need it. I don’t know how to break the cycle – but I know it needs to be broken. My husband gives me the same look and says, “Don’t you think we can shred that now?” No, because like a good boy (girl) scout, I feel the need to be prepared. It’s a sickness. At least I’m in good company – may we both learn how to purge the files!! 🙂

  4. This is a good reminder today that I need to do some filing – and maybe shredding! Can you recommend a good resource for what we should keep and what we can throw away?

  5. Thanks for the opportunity – this sounds like an interesting resource. I really appreciated the comment from ‘tuxgirl’; great tip and reminder. Looking forward to checking it out further.

  6. I recently found, and she is wonderful. I am finally feeling like I CAN get control of the clutter that has accumulated during 11 years in our home, but especially in the last six, during which I wrote, edited and successfully defended my dissertation (then put it all in a pile in my office to deal with the aftermath another day), gave birth and cared for two children, oversaw two renovation projects… You get the idea. Lots of clutter. I was glad to see your post on email, this also a trouble zone right now, and this post is inspiring on the clutter front as well! We can all get there, just take baby steps!

  7. I have discovered a wonderful little tool called “Neat Receipts”. Its a portable scanner that allows you to quickly scan anything (from a tiny receipt to a full-page document), makes it into a digital file and then you can label it however you want. Then everything is electronically filed for you.

    It even has an option where you can categorize everything by IRS tax standards, and when tax time comes, just run a report, make it into a pdf and send it off. The IRS now accepts scanned receipts, so you don’t have to save them all!

    I’ve also been scanning in pages and pages of torn out recipes and will be converting them with a recipe book software program to make my own recipe book.

    I recently cleaned out all our paperwork files and shredded 6 garbage bags of paper. I even managed to get my husband to carry out the “only save tax returns for 7 years” “rule” and we shredded everything prior to 2002. Yes, a bit of a heart attack, but we survived!

  8. Anyone else know of digital systems out there to help organize financial documents? I will check into Neat Receipts. I looked into Doxo and I love the concept but very few of the organizations that I “pay” are connected with Doxo so it doesn’t work for me.

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