By: Revanche

Pitfall of going paperless

February 16, 2010

I absolutely love the reduction of paperwork and the mostly empty file drawers in my desk.  One of my main goals of decluttering was to eliminate loads of bulk and excess that creep into all the corners of your life until one day, you fear that it might claim you in your sleep. 

Or is that a creeping feeling that only I get?

It does take some upkeep, but with a bit of dedication to scanning in paperwork as you receive it, even if you don’t immediately name and deal with the file in question until later, you can eliminate those Leaning Towers of Recyclables from your life.

The one major problem I’ve run into is that when some record goes missing, my heart goes KER-PLOP. No matter how hard I look, if something isn’t in my electronic files, I probably didn’t scan it but definitely proceeded to discard the hard copy too long ago to retrieve.

I discovered this flaw in the Master Plan a few weeks ago when reviewing documents for tax returns. I always use the previous year’s return as a guide but for the life of me, I cannot find my tax return paperwork for 2008!  I triple checked to make sure I wasn’t just thinking of the wrong tax year, but no love.

The Master Plan needs tweaking, I see.

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My post on Repurposing was included in the Festival of Frugality hosted by Simply Forties.

8 Responses to “Pitfall of going paperless”

  1. For some of those documents, you can download the pdf of the bills through the company.

    Also, I don’t know what method you used for taxes last year, but with Turbo Tax, you can access previous returns (I’m pretty sure…)

  2. Shelley says:

    This is a project I want to tackle soon, as my filing cabinet is stuffed. I’m sure there is a lot I could just pitch, but some that needs scanned. I would be inclined to only scan documents after I’d filed my income tax return, particularly after hearing about your difficulty. Minor tweak to you Master Plan, though.

  3. I won’t go paperless with my tax documents just yet. But you should be able to access the last three years statements via the company, if you did it online. I’m not sure how it works if you did it with software.

  4. Ack! I’m a nutcase when it comes to things like these. I like paper everything.

    Good luck finding copies!

  5. eemusings says:

    Eeek! Sometimes the old fashioned way has its pluses.

  6. Red says:

    Girl, it is not only you! I began scanning all of my old photos and cards (birthdays, etc.) into my computer a few months ago. The only pitfall to my plan is that I have to scan things at work and then put them on a thumb drive to take them home to my computer. Guess who forgot to put the files on a thumb drive after my last scan? Me! Guess whose boss deletes files from the “public” scan folder? (I wasn’t told prior to this incident that this folder was for everyone’s use and was emptied once a week!) You got it! My boss deleted years and years of sentiment because she doesn’t like clutter in that folder. And our IT guy says our server was having problems backing up at the time so there’s no way to retrieve them. ::sigh::

    I don’t know if you file taxes online, but I don’t even print mine out anymore. I keep it all on a thumb drive and my computer. (Just in case one or the other goes missing.) It takes out the step of scanning and saves me the heartache of finding out that apparently, yes, some things can be deleted forever.

  7. Same thing happened to me, luckily I was able to retrieve from my tax return service. While I was on the site, I downloaded all the years with that site.

  8. Revanche says:

    @graduatedlearning: I always do a dry run and compare notes with the family accountant. Because he cuts me a big discount, I usually let him take care of the filing. (I know, I should do it myself.)

    @Shelley: It’s not the scanning part that should be tweaked, it’s the pitching part. IE: DOUBLE CHECK FOR THE FILE ONLINE! *smacks head*

    @InvestingNewbie: I’ll just have to check and see if the accountant keeps a set. They mail us hardcopy.

    @The Asian Pear: Thanks!

    @eemusings: Usually, until you stub your toe on one too many overflowing file cabinets. 😛

    @Red: Oh MAN! I’m so sorry to hear that! Yours is infinitely worse than mine.

    @Converting a Spendthrift: Good idea. I’m goin through and making a list of all the docs I seem to be missing.

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