Are you one of the millions of banking and credit card customers who still receives a paper statement in the mail each month? Resisting the push from your financial institutions to switch to electronic statements that arrive in your e-mail inbox? You might want to consider making the change.
E-mails do tend to pile up, and adding a new set of inbox-invaders each month might not sound appealing at first, but when you’re trading e-mails for paper statements, you’re only adding to the real clutter in your life. An e-statement is easier and faster to open, file or simply send straight to the trash if that’s what you want (though it isn’t recommended).
“You really don’t need the paper as long as you remember to download the statements or bills and back them up occasionally (and backing up your records is something you should be doing anyway),” says personal finance expert Liz Weston. “The IRS accepts electronic records, and financial institutions keep your statements on hand for at least six years anyway.”
In addition to storing backups of your financial records going back for years, most financial institutions offer a variety of useful services in conjunction with e-statements. Searchable records, organized and sortable archives and secure storage are all advantages that paper statements just can’t touch.
“Surprisingly, studies now suggest that going paperless may actually reduce a consumer’s risk for fraud and identity theft because these crimes commonly occur when printed statements get in the wrong hands,” says professor and author Dustin Mulvaney.
Moving to electronic statements doesn’t just free up clutter and give you an easier way to store and sort your records. Going electronic also makes a statement about your environmental attitude.
“Over 600,000 tons of paper could be saved annually if every household in the United States stopped receiving paper bills and statements,” says Mulvaney. “According to the U.S. Postal Service, the average U.S. family receives approximately 19 bills and statements each month and makes seven monthly payments using paper.”
It isn’t just the trees lost to paper mills that have an environmental impact. Carbon emissions from paper production and mail delivery contribute to environmental degradation as well. Limiting the amount of paper you use can help reduce the greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere.
E-statements make your financial records more organized, more secure and more environmentally friendly. If that’s not enough, they can also save you money.
“You will find many financial institutions urging account holders to make the environmentally friendly choice and switch to e-statements, but remember that this method of statement delivery also saves the financial institution plenty of money,” says online financial expert Tamsen Butler. “These savings may potentially be passed along to account holders in the form of fewer fees.”
When you’re dealing with smaller financial institutions especially, the reduced costs created by a move to e-statements can create huge savings for the financial institution. This often means not only lower fees for accounts, but higher interest rates paid on deposit accounts.
Make the switch, and let the world know that you handle your finances with efficiency, environmental consciousness and cost effectiveness.