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

by Mike Holman

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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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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vasile

I just checked my TD account and I get my my TD credit card and Toronto water bills electronically, among many others. They are integrating epost.ca in their site. In TD EasyWeb, just go to eServices in the menu and you’ll find the details.

2 Michael James

I get e-statements for some accounts and like Brad I keep local copies of the pdfs. It’s funny that you mention an account with only $6 in it. I have an account that has had 58 cents in it for the past 17 years. They still send me paper statements once a year showing a pie chart with 100% allocation to cash.

3 Mike Holman

@Vasile – My wife emailed and TD said they don’t have online statements for the credit card. What kind of card is yours?

@MJ – Lol – 58 cents? 17 years?

4 Steve Zussino

I get everything electronically and everything is paid automatically through chequing account – since automating my finances it is really easy.

I hate storing paper receipts too and it is great for the environment.

5 H

Out of curiosity, is there a mutual fund RRSP provider out there that doesn’t charge transfer out fees? I was thinking maybe that redeeming the funds and paying tax on the remaining amount would be a good idea, but I could be wrong on this one. Great post (save the environment, paper, time, and space!).

6 Mike Holman

H – there are circumstances where the transfer fee doesn’t apply or can be easily waived. In my case, I think the mutual fund company should have transferred the last dividend as part of the original T2033 transfer, so I don’t think they will charge anything.

A few years ago I transferred my LSIF funds from TD Waterhouse to Questrade – my original $15,500 was down to about $6000. I phoned and asked them to waive the fee, because the account was so small (and had done so poorly) – which they did.

7 BeatingTheIndex

Excellent move Mike. I moved to E-statements/bills about 3 years ago, never looked back. Saves you so much in paper handling over time. You don’t have to worry about recycling or shredding them to get rid of your private info.

8 Vasile

@Mike: I have a TD Gold, but it was the same when I had a Green one. Do you have online access to your TD CC? I know that they didn’t give me when I only had the CC with them. But open a $1 no fee savings account or a small free emergency LOC, and you’ll *probably* get an access card and online access. It somehow makes sense, epost is mainly for getting and paying bills, with only a CC you cannot pay them. I’ve read about people who were also able to get online access even with only a RESP account, but they had to insist to get it. Unfortunately, CSRs are not created equal, you may try to get a more knowledgeable one or visit a branch.

9 schultzter

I’ve been doing everything electronically for quite some time now. Although originally I got my CIBC Visa AeroGold or AeroClassic by PDF they stopped that service. Every time I asked they said that no one liked PDF statements so they weren’t going to re-instate it. If they had it would have been one less reason to cancel my CIBC Visa (although the other reason was much more significant than paper vs. PDF).

10 platina

Most of my bills are online. I’ve had some issues though. My hydro bill went missing once and no one at Canada Post or Hydro could tell me why. I paid that month based on what Hydro said I owed, without seeing the bill. Just a couple of months ago, I received my bill three days after it was due. Hydro waived the late charge. Oh and you can get your Toronto water bill online.

11 Echo

Most of my bills offer e-statements but if certain companies don’t offer them directly to you, they might offer them through Canada Post (epost dot ca). Visa for sure will have this option. I have been using e-post for years, and I think the only paper statements I still receive are for my semi-annual mortgage update from TD.

After my wife bought a new cell phone we were updating her account profile online through TELUS and they clearly state that they will charge $2/month for paper billing unless you check off the e-statements option.

12 Sustainable PF

Awesome! What a sustainable way to think. We also use e-statements but have found at times companies STILL send us paper copies. Frustrating, but still we continue to hound those companies to STOP WITH THE PAPER. If they don’t we may just need to post about them specifically over at our site ;)

13 Leslie

Mike, you should contact Vanguard directly to advise them how you wish to receive prospectuses and other notices (mail, e-mail, not-at-all, quarterly or annually etc.). Go to their (Vanguard’s) website and click Contact Us. Since your ETFs are likely held in Questrade’s account (street name is Questrade and not you), have your account info handy.

14 Financial Cents

Good post Mike. I’m trying to go a lil’ more minimalist myself in 2011. I’ve already gone the way of e-statements for most of my banking and bills but there is still more to do. Isn’t there always? :)

15 Mike

@Vasile – thanks.  My wife was able to enable the estatements for her visa, thanks to your instructions.

@Schultzer – I got rid of my AeroGold a long time ago.  No regrets.

http://www.moneysmartsblog.com/i-got-rid-of-my-visa-aerogold-card/

@platina – I’ll have to be diligent and make sure I get the bills.

@Echo – thanks, I’ll check out epost.

@Sustainable – Yes, I’ve already encountered that.

@Leslie – thanks for the tip – will do.

@FC – yes, there is. :)

16 Mélanie S

The only regular bills/statements that I receive in the mail are my RBC RRSP prospectes, and my new Capital One Mastercard, which seriously annoys me. All the information for the card is in the online banking anyway so I can’t understand why I can’t opt out of the paper copy. Online billing is much more efficient for me. I’ve actually never paid a monthly bill any other way, so it just makes sense to receive them online where I can pay them right away. I’ve incurred accidental late fees due to bad record keeping (ie tossing paper bills in a corner somewhere and forgetting to pay them).

17 Briana @ GBR

Trust me when I say it’s going to be one of the best things you’ve ever done. All of my bills are on estatements and ebills. Things get paid quicker and are just about guaranteed to get paid by me. I’m on the computer for the better part of my day, put all due dates in my Google Calendar, and set up bill pay on my online banking. Go for it!

18 Debbi

I’ve been paperless for years. When I moved to Canada four years ago, I had to purge a lot of paperwork, and I vowed not to have to do that again. So from the get-go, I checked and opted for electronic statement options for everything. Where none was available at the time, I’d scan the paper statement. Today, everything is electronic with the exception of property tax statements and mortgage statements.

Now if only I could get electronic receipts for my POS purchases emailed to me (since most stores ask for your email at the cash register anyway) :P

@sustainable: Yes, it’s annoying – some service providers, despite providing e-statements still mail out paper copies.

Regarding TD Visa – you get electronic statements through epost either via epost.ca or the one embedded within the TD EasyWeb site. Either version sucks, though. It is not easy to print and save.

19 Vasile

@Debbi: for TD Visa, I’m using PrimoPDF to “print to PDF”. It’s kind of awkward, though, I have to be careful to select the Details page every time. Do you have a better solution?

20 FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

Er.. there ARE paperless bathrooms you know? :P

Have you ever heard of Family Cloth. Yeah. We’re not there yet. BF is ready, I’m squeamish.

How about CutePDF to print instead of Primo?

Also, you can download those e-statements from TD but I thought they came in PDF? I’m SURE I could download them in PDF

Nevertheless, I basically scan everything that comes into my kung fu grip, except for stuff I have to keep.

I scan it to PDF, name it, and throw it onto a USB key. Done. Then I shred the paper.

21 Debbi

@Vasile/ @FB: I actually have (full version) of Adobe Acrobat as I use my work computer.
A good free alternative is NitroPDF.
It’s *very* awkward as TD have some sort of built-in viewer that shows each page individually, so there’s no one “print all” page. I like to keep all the details in all pages, so I basically have to print off each page individually. Very annoying but still somewhat easier than having to load a physical statement in to my scanner. Perhaps if enough of us complain, TD will fix this and offer a full printable PDF statement!

22 Mike Holman

@FB – Eeeew!

Yes, I have heard of them. :)

The quote says they are unrealistic, not that they don’t exist.

But they definitely don’t exist in my house! ;)

23 Vasile

@FabulouslyBroke: can you please let me know how you saved them to PDF? I looked again today, and I couldn’t find the option. I’m not saying it’s not there, maybe I’m just following the same path and I keep missing it.

@Debbi: PrimoPDF is the free print-to-PDF driver created by the same company that makes NitroPDF. AFAIK, the free NitroPDF is trialware and it’s time-limited. Am I wrong?

24 schultzter

I’m seeing a lot of comments about printing to PDF and throw in my two-cents:

The first penny comes from PDF Creator by PDF forge. It not only prints to PDF but lets you accumulate multiple prints into one PDF and print to other formats as well (PNG, etc.)

The second penny (worth only half a penny though) is that if you’re using Windows and have .NET installed you could also use the XPS Document Writer which prints to XPS files – Microsoft’s version of PDF.

25 Rahim Shamji

TD Visa and City of Toronto – Water statements are available on-line though E-Post. I access them though TD Easyweb, but i am sure you can sign up for an E-Post account directly though the post office. I also store all my statements on E-post and have been for several years now.

Just common sence.

26 Julie

I am a divorced woman and I used to go estatements and ebills. It’s the best way to go if you have a backup plan. I was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma and no one in my family was able to pay my bills while I was in the hospital, as they didn’t know I did everything online. Make sure you have a subsequent other half or someone who is aware of where your bills are online in case something happens to you. I now go back to snail mail for my bills and still use estatements and bill pay online.

27 Ottawan

I feel like I’ve been over charged ever since I switched to eBills. There is a higher chance most customers won’t take time to look at the charges.

Enbridge bombardad with few bill in a same month.

28 Regina

There’s no date on this post or its replies, but I found this website while looking for an answer to my TD question. I was just told by a TD customer service representative that you cannot stop paper bills – and it’s January 2011. I think I already receive an eBill as well, though. I know for certain with my old bank they gave me the choice of eBill or paper statement, so it should be an option with TD. When you guys got your eBill set up, were you able to do away with the paper version, and if so, how?

29 jay

Paperless. Too bad the huge savings the companies make by using YOUR internet usage, and by NOT having to print a bill is not passed on to you. Also, if you move, lose a job, and cant get internet for ahile, are THEY going ot supply you a free conection to get your bills? No. Also, all the employees that were once used to handle paper bils…are now added to unemployment lines. Welcome to the golden age of IT generated joblessness. I PAY for services by these companies. It is THEIR responsibility to get the bill to me. I pay for my internet connection and PC, for my enjoyment and private use. Not so I can get bills. Thank you-

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