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Risks of Paperless Personal Finance

Last week I wrote about five ways that paperless personal finance saves you money [3] and I figured I might as well go over a few reasons why paperless finance may be risky. I’m tempted to slap a Devil’s Advocate [4] label on something like this but paperless personal finance isn’t exactly a slam dunk answer for everyone and here’s why.

Website Down

I don’t know if you remember when Emigrant Direct rolled out a new site design last year and saw their website come to a grinding halt [5]. That was only for a day or two… imagine if the website was down for a week. That’s the number one reason why going paperless is a huge risk, if the website goes down and you can’t get a telephone number, you’re disconnected from some of your funds. The easiest way to mitigate this risk is to avoid putting putting all of your money in one place, good as a general practice anyway.

This is why I always advocate having a brick and mortar bank account that you can access easily in person because nothing beats being able to talk to someone in person if you need a problem solved. I can’t think of a situation where, between an online bank and a B&M bank, you can’t get to your money in a timely fashion if you need it.

You’re Terrible With Email

I use email notifications as a way to remind me to pay the bills and I do so whenever I get the notifications. It’s understandable that sometimes you can’t act on an email when they receive it, thus preferring a paper bill to act as a constant reminder that you have to do something. Ultimately it comes down to priority – how important is it for you to pay your bill right that minute? If you can take a minute to check your email, you can probably take an extra minute to log into your account, schedule a payment, and then continue onto whatever pressing matter it was that you had. Right? Be honest. 🙂

Print Your Own Records

If you file away everything, from credit card bills to bank statements, then you have more detailed notes than most people and you might be able to justify your need to keep receiving paper statements. All of those records are accessible online, if you can get online, and certainly having the paper record is nicer than having to log on, print, and then have the record so going entirely paperless puts the onus on you to do a little extra work if you need the paper document. This is a trade off I, and many other paperless proponents, was willing to make since I found that I never used my bills or my bank statements for anything.

There you have it, a bit of a bone for those paper finance people who couldn’t see themselves not receiving a paper bill each month, and I certainly understand, though I don’t agree, with where they’re coming from. There are legitimate reasons why you would want some of your statements and not others, but I hope that some of you folks would consider moving some of your stuff to the paperless world and save some of the little trees out there. 🙂