How I decluttered my husband's business and reduced debt 2

Part 2: Going paperless and cashless

This post is the second in the multi-part series where I chronicle how I decluttered my husband's small business.

Related post - Part 1: Financial assessment

Related post - Part 3: Simplifying the workflow 

Related post - Part 4: Day-to-day decluttering

There was paper everywhere: on the desks, with the discs, on the dining table, beneath a tangled cable, in the drawer, on the floor, in a pocket, near an electrical socket...

(Random fact: I go into the Dr. Seuss mode when I clean or declutter.)

I painstakingly picked up each and every piece of paper and sorted them into the keep, recycle, and shred piles, and noted that the majority fell under either the recycle or shred piles. Even the sheets in the keep pile could be recycled or shredded once they are dealt with.

So, my husband kept all these paper for what exactly?

The dust made me sneeze, and my fingers were covered with paper cuts. I decided that this was the last time I'm dealing with paper clutter in his office. And that meant going digital.

how to get rid of paper clutter

Going paperless

The paper clutter in the office came from both within (printing) and outside. The first thing I did was to ban printing unless it was absolutely necessary.

My husband had the habit of printing documents and reading them on paper. I asked him to get used to reading them on the computer screen. I argued that if he could read all of the FaceBook feed on the computer screen, surely he must be able to read a letter or a report in a similar manner.

He was also accustomed to printing out anything he saw as important, e.g., bank statements, a list of expenses, receipts, etc. I told him that a digital record was sufficient. (Most governments accept digital records in place of paper documents.)

Next, I contacted suppliers who have been sending us paper invoices to see if they could send us an electronic one via email; they all said yes. I also asked for their banking information so that we could pay them directly* instead of writing them a cheque.

We've always sent invoices to our customers via email, so we didn't change anything there. But my husband used to print them out, wrote "paid" on it when we received the payment and filed them in the cabinet. With a new cloud-based bookkeeping system in place, this practice became obsolete. (I since recycled all of those paid invoices since he had the digital copies elsewhere.)

Finally, I arranged to receive utility, mobile and property tax bills via email.

I was surprised how much benefit was attached to going paperless besides getting rid of paper clutter and paper cuts. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Printer cartridges are expensive; now we are buying them much less often.

  • Paper is not cheap either, so we are saving money there, too.

  • Consuming fewer printer cartridges and paper means less trip made to the store (saving time, effort and gas money.)

  • Since we have much less paper, we need to recycle it less often and buy recycling bags less often.

  • We buy fewer stamps and envelopes to mail out cheques.

  • We seldom make trips to the postbox.

  • We order blank cheques infrequently.

  • Since we pay our supplier via electronic funds transfer, the funds come out of our bank account immediately. This prevents us from incurring nonsufficient funds status.

  • Looking for a specific document or keywords within a document is much, much quicker with digital documents.

Going cashless

When I made the plan to go digital, I first didn't include cash as part of the deal. But it was inevitable to happen.

We started using the bank app to deposit cheques. Because now there is no need to get to the bank to make deposits, it seemed like a waste of time and effort to go to the ATM to withdraw cash. So we stuck to using a credit card to buy all business-related items. In this way, we accumulated a lot of points as well.

And bookkeeping was somewhat simpler if we didn't use cash; editing and approving transactions downloaded directly from online banking account to my Quickbooks account took less effort than entering my own transactions.

By going paperless and cashless, we eliminated a lot of processes. Working with digital documents is also more cost efficient than working with paper copies.  Thus, the office digitization made our business more efficient and helped us save money.

Stay tuned for the part 3 of the series!

*There is a cost for this service but sending the funds this way is more cost-effective than writing cheques. Check with your financial institution for details.