I’m Switching To E-Bills and E-Statements

by Mike Holman

I’m pretty bad with mail – I pay the bills quickly, but I tend to just let everything else pile up until I have a huge mountain of paper to deal with.  However, this past Sunday I spent several hours going through my mail and I’ve never had so much fun!  Why you ask?

Well, although I’ve been aware of e-statements and e-bills, I’ve never made use of them.  My biggest concern was that the statements wouldn’t be online long enough.

As luck would have it, I found some inspiration from this comment at the Canadian Money Forums by Brad

I’ve been getting almost all my bills and all of my banking statements electronically for a few years now and it sure beats having to keep paper files. I haven’t had to print anything yet, but I save everything as PDFs and back them up offsite. I got rid of two filing cabinets that I no longer needed and now have a lot more room in my home office.

I thought – what if I did the same?  The amount of mail should decrease.  I have done this on a limited basis in the past, but the efforts were more about getting off mailing lists rather than changing to ebills.  Brad later clarified that he also used to print a lot of documents, so stopping that practice was part of getting rid of his paper.

Action plan

I started with my CIBC Visa statements – I have two cards – one for me and one for my business.  After reading the fine print, I found that CIBC will keep the statements available for seven years.  Considering I don’t even keep the paper copies for that long, seven years should be plenty good enough.  You can get alerts to your email which will tell you when a new statement is available for viewing and payment.  My wife tried to do the same with her TD Visa, but apparently they don’t offer e-statements yet.

Next I opted for the e-statements at Questrade discount brokerage.  We have three active accounts there, so that should save some paper.  What I don’t know how to stop is the prospectus and reports from Vanguard that show up every once in a while.

My personal Rogers account (internet) was already set to e-statements, which I wasn’t getting since they were going to an old email.  I corrected the email and then set up another online account for my iPhone (business) and set those statements to online.

That’s as far as I got – don’t forget, I also had to deal with all the piled up mail which took some time.  I also spent quite a bit of time drawing and colouring various animals on the discarded envelopes with my son.  I’m going to keep at it – plenty more paper to convert!

A paperless office is as realistic as a paperless bathroom…

Things left to convert

  • Mutual fund account with $6 in it.  I need to do a RRSP T2033 transfer and move this money to Questrade.  It probably resulted from a late dividend.  Very annoying!
  • Ontario Hydro
  • Gas (Enbridge)
  • Phone bill (Bell)
  • Water bill (City of Toronto) – not sure if I can convert this one.  It’s only every 6 months anyway.

I’m sure there are more, but I’ll deal with them when they arrive in the mail.  I’m really excited about doing this little project since I think it will help my organization and cut down on trivial admin tasks that I don’t enjoy doing.  It should also save a couple of trees per year.  :)

What about you?  Are you still getting paper bills and statements or are you paper-free?

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