While many of us dream of being highly organized, ready and willing to access everything from tax records to family vacation photos at the touch of a button, that level of digital readiness often feels unattainable.
One recent survey found that 54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have in their homes, but 78% have no idea what to do with it or find it too complicated to deal with so they let it continue to build.
While it’s common to have at least a few documents, photos and our contact list (thankfully) floating around on the cloud, it’s safe to say many of us are victim to office clutter, often tucking away important documents into filing cabinets or saving them onto hard drives we stuff into desk drawers.
In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, best-selling author and Netflix hit Marie Kondo says the home de-cluttering process represents a “huge turning point in a person’s life.” And in fact, on her 2019 show, which followed families of various backgrounds as they worked to declutter their homes, many homeowners’ successes came from organizing years of family paperwork.
If filing cabinets or manila folders don’t “spark joy” for you, then it may be time to consider the benefits of digitizing documents.
Aside from the obvious drop in clutter, eliminating paper copies of even a portion of your personal records can offer a safety net in the event of natural disasters, easier access to files when you need them, and less waste for the environment. And with smart devices and apps like Rosy that offer batch scanning to make storing and organizing files much more efficient, going digital doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.
Here are (more than) a few reasons why getting your act together on the document digitization front is worth your investment.
If you’ve ever purchased a home, then you understand the value of having ready access to your personal documents. There’s nothing like spending hours sifting through filing cabinets or pulling boxes down from the attic on a vigorous search for tax returns to make you consider going digital. Keeping electronic records of items like bank statements and other personal documents you don’t need original copies for (like proof of car insurance binders, homeowner’s insurance policies, or paystubs) could drastically reduce the time you spend looking for those items later on. The IRS recommends saving tax records anywhere from three to seven years – depending on your individual situation; that paper trail can add up quick. When you create and stick to a system to store your electronic files, it can make keeping track of everything much easier.
Digitizing your important personal documents doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of all the original copies you keep at home. In some cases, scanning paper documents can serve more as a safety net in the event you ever need to replace your originals. Although unofficial copies often have no legal standing, it’s almost always easier to get a replacement document if you have a copy of the original. In times of crisis – like after a natural disaster – governments and financial institutions are also much more likely to accept digital copies or scans than nothing at all. When you opt for password protected digitization options and other secure systems of electronic filing, it can also lessen your risk of exposure to theft when compared to keeping everything in one place at home.
When you store all of your precious documents in a safe or cabinet, those documents are only as safe as their location. That means in the event of an emergency or a disaster – a house fire, earthquake or flood – vulnerability becomes a real issue. Digitizing your records eliminates the possibility of them incurring damage, getting destroyed or being taken from your home – and therefore eliminates you from having to go through the chore of contacting every government agency for new documentation. A fire safe or fire-retardant filing cabinet will also never offer the same level of protection as a virtual backup of your records.
For many people, the benefits of digitizing documents are both mental as well as physical. According to Time magazine, Michelle Newman, a professor of psychology and director of the Laboratory for Anxiety and Depression Research at Penn State University, said: “When things in our lives feel out of our control, I think tidying up can be psychologically reinforcing.” In a lot of cases, freeing yourself from the clutter of the barrage of personal documents you keep at home is often freeing yourself from unnecessary baggage. Bank of America states that Americans are often prone to keeping more than we actually need. Most of the time, those bank statements and pay stubs, utility bills, deposit and withdrawal records can be thrown out after 30 days.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans go through over 69 million tons of paper and paper board each year. How many of the bank statements, utility bills, insurance documents sitting in your filing cabinets and drawers account for that number? Document digitization can not only reduce your paper waste; it can end up saving you in the long run. “PayItGreen, a coalition led by an electronic-payment industry group, estimates that by eliminating paper bills, payments, and statements alone, the average household would save 6.6 pounds of paper each year, avoid the release of 171 pounds of greenhouse gases and 63 gallons of wastewater, and cut gas consumption by 4.5 gallons. The estimates take into account paper, transportation, and disposal,” states Consumer Reports. Maybe that only amounts to a few reams of paper and cartridges of ink per household, but the impact multiplied over time can mean a significant difference on the environment.
When and if you decide to take the leap to going digital, it doesn’t have to be difficult. With smart devices and apps like Rosy that offer batch scanning and easy digitization solutions, you’ll be ditching your filing cabinets in no time.
For more information on how you can use Rosy to digitize your personal records and to be the first to know when the Rosy app launches, sign up for our Waitlist.