Filing documents is the definition of drudgery. Wasn’t the promise of computers that they’d make life easier? Shouldn’t they be moving documents around automatically and placing them right where I need them exactly when I need them? Good news. We can do that.
How to do one less damn thing every month
Even though we spend a lot of time talking about personal finance and taxes, I’m a sucker when it comes to productivity and automation. There’s just something magical about setting up a system that automatically handles a boring task. If you’re willing to put in an hour of work and a little money, this is a great introduction to the true power of computers and the promise of an easier life.
The Problem. You receive a lot of statements: Credit card statements; Amazon statements; Electricity statements; paystubs; etc.
Generally, these statements aren’t relevant to your day to day life. Yet, every now and then you need one. Maybe it’s for a reimbursement. Maybe it’s to make sure you’re not being overcharged. Getting a statement involves finding the provider’s website, remembering your login credentials, finding the place to download the statement, finding the right statement and finally downloading it. It’s not pleasant.
The Solution. All of your statements are delivered to you in clean PDFs, filed in an organizational system by provider name and available on any device whenever you need them.
We can do this with a combination of Evernote and FileThisFetch.
Setting up the system
Evernote. Evernote is a free service that acts as a cloud database of notes. They offer a paid version, but I don’t think you need it for setting up this system. You’ll need to download Evernote and set up an account if you don’t have one.
Once you have Evernote installed and an account created, that’s it. No more work on the Evernote side. Maybe install the app on your phone. You might want access to these statements on the go.
FileThis. FileThis is the magic ingredient. It’s the thousands of elves that do the hard work. Each week, FileThis will contact your accounts and ask for recent statements. If it finds any statements, it will download them and add them to a specific folder in Evernote. FileThis will handle one account for free (or two, if you use my link). For 20 accounts, it costs $20 a year.
Worried about handing out your login information to financial accounts? I get it. I don’t use FileThis for any of my asset accounts (i.e. anywhere I keep assets). But I have no problem using it for my liability accounts. What’s the worst that could happen if someone gets access to my natural gas account? Would they pay the bill for me? Same for student loans. Plus, they use bank level security. To me, the benefits far outweigh the potential problems associated with someone hacking into my Time Warner account.
The system in practice
Connecting your accounts is easy. FileThis has 100s on offer. You simply select the account you want to connect and enter your login information.
After connecting accounts, you tell FileThis where you want the statements to go. I use Evernote, but they offer many options including their own cloud storage, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Once the accounts are connected, FileThis does all the heavy lifting. The end result is a tidy virtual cabinet with every statement, automatically downloaded. Next time you need to submit a phone bill for reimbursement? Drag it out of your Evernote system and it’s ready to go.
Joshua Holt is a former private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor. Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Empower keeping track of his money. He’s also maxing out tax-advantaged accounts like 529 Plans to minimize his taxable income.