If you are like most people (including myself in “most”), you have multiple bank accounts, several different utility company bills, a few credit cards as well as a regular paycheck that you have to deposit. (I know I got tired of dealing with all of them every week!) Dealing with all these is difficult enough without considering the environmental impact left behind if you are still using paper versions of them all. Before I get started, I have to tell you – I have been using online banking exclusively for a few years now and contrary to what some might think, I have not had any huge errors occur or any of my account information stolen by cyber-thieves. In fact, online banking is safer to use as there are not any paper statements or bills sitting in your mailbox at home for a few hours before you get the mail. OK, with that being said let’s take a look at several ways to green your banking habits.
First off, get started using online banking. You can access any of your accounts online to transfer money or pay bills, and you can get copies of statements in PDF format instead of waiting for printed account statements to show up at your home, saving them to your computer for safekeeping. I have not seen a paper statement from any of my banks for years, but I still have the PDF versions stored in Evernote on my computer. It’s pretty convenient to not have to store all those reams of paper in my file cabinet, and it reduces the amount of paper that the banks have to go through every month.
Pay all or most of your bills online. Almost every company that sends you a paper bill will A. gladly stop sending you a paper bill and instead put them online for you, and B. accept online bill paying through their website or your bank. I have gotten to the point where I no longer write any checks. Sure, I have some, but I even pay my rent online now. You can even have your bank send paper checks directly to anyone who cannot take online payments, which is pretty convenient.
Stop it with the blank credit card checks! It might take you 4 phone calls, 3 letters and a few emails, but you CAN get those blank cash advance checks from your credit card company to stop showing up. As soon as you get one, call the number listed in the letter and tell them you no longer want to receive the checks. Rinse and repeat a few more times for good measure, as they don’t seem to listen that well. Eventually, the checks will stop coming – I barely get a trickle now that I have called over and over. If you are getting unsolicited credit card offers but don’t want them, try OptOutPrescreen to get them to stop. So much paper and plastic is wasted to send all that stuff out, that anything you can do to stop it in your house will definitely help.
Get your paycheck direct deposited. While I am sure there are some smaller companies out there that do not offer it, most employers can do direct deposit of your paycheck. I know you might be nervous that you won’t get your check, but it never happened to me in all those years I had direct deposit from my employer. Besides, do you like standing in line at the ATM on Thursday with all those other people? I know I didn’t when I got a weekly check! Because I freelance full time now, I get most of my payments sent through Paypal or via direct deposit- no paper needed.
Bank locally and/or online only if possible. I know this is a difficult step for some people, but if you have a local bank that provides what you need try to use it, and if not try an online bank. Smaller local banks help out your community and can offer most of the things the “big” banks offer, and online banks are just as safe as brick and mortar ones have been. I now do 100% of my banking online – I don’t even have a bank branch I can go to. Banking with Charles Schwab bank is online only, but I can use any ATM for free to get money.
Forego receipts If you don’t need a receipt, don’t take one. (Besides, there is evidence now that BPA is on receipts – not good) I rarely ever take receipts for food/drink/gasoline/ATM uses, and only take them for big purchases I may need to return and/or need for my taxes. Stores like Apple actually can email you the receipt right there in the store, which not only cuts out the paper but gives you an electronic version to keep forever. It’s quite a nice touch, really.
I have gotten my paper clutter down to only a few file folders (mostly just tax info), and the rest of the items I need to save are in digital format stored on my computer. Eventually I hope to be entirely paper-free, but for now I am happy with the tiny amount of paper I have to store Do you have any more ideas to share on how to green your banking habits?
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