Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It only hurts a little bit.... (Day 1)

Well, I've done it. Made my first of 366 changes. I switched to electronic billing for some of my bills.

Why not all, you ask? Well that a good question with a bit of a complicated answer. The simplest way to answer is "stealth factor". I didn't touch any bills in DH's name.

I can't, in all honesty. He has to authorize the requests, as he is the contact person on the account. Why not ask him to authorize them? Back to the stealth factor - I want to slip through this green challenge with as little inconvenience to the family as possible, until much, much later.

So, I thought I would start with the bills I can control (the ones in my name) and work from there.

Unfortunately, this only amounts to about 8 bills changed so far. Five I have set up through e-post ( and another three directly with the company. Of the remaining bills, there are about 5 or 6 that I am not going to switch until I talk to my accountant re: the need for paper copies if my soon-to-be-defunct home business ever gets audited.

Was the process painful? Not really. It was easier than I thought to switch over the billing. A few simple clicks of the mouse and voila! A virtual postbox is created.

The amount of paper I have saved, personally, is not a great amount - about 4.3 lbs per year. But e-post estimates that if every Canadian changed 8 paper bills into electronic ones, we could save about 88,704,000 lbs of paper annually! That's 766,080trees!

Emotionally, though, this challenge was a little more difficult. I like paper. I like the feel of it and the sense of importance I get when I have mail. Do you remember how as children, we couldn't wait to get mail? Birthday cards, magazine subscriptions, occaisional "thinking of you" notes. I'm still like that - I love seeing the pile of envelopes in the mailbox when I open it.

The true test of this change, of course, will be when it comes time for paying the electronic bills. I'm kind of a visual person - if I can't see it, or it isn't written down, it doesn't happen. I'm worried that I won't remember to pay the bills unless they are sitting in all of their paper glory in my mail basket.

According to a recent Ottawa Citizen article, Canadians are great at paying their bills electronically, via online banking, etc., but aren't very good at receiving their bills electronically. Many cited reasons similar to mine - they like the paper copies, they need a visual reference, the need to have a paper copy in case of a disupute with a company. We obviously need to do a better job at trying to get ourselves off the paper addiction. We need to start asking, do I really need this piece of paper?

It's a question I'm going to start asking myself a lot more often.


  1. Sorry everyone - still learning this blog thing - this is the latest post and should be read after "366 Changes". Thanks.

  2. Hey there Eco Mama!
    Love your blog's template (I have the same...!)
    I solved my e-bill problem by leaving myself a paper reminder beside my computer. I don't have any paper bills left, but i still get lots of stuff printed on one-sided paper, so I use the back for my visual reminders. Hope that helps you remember to pay your bills!

  3. Thanks DJP. I'm anxious to see how the e-billing cycle works. I will write myself a note to check for the bills to see if they come in.

  4. You should be able to sign up to have email reminders sent to you when your bill is ready. Some utilities also have a week-before-the due-date reminder.
    Whenever I get a bill notice, I check the bill, write down how much I owe and when its due. And I make sure the paper is always at the same place beside my laptop so that I see it every time I open my computer. It's been a reliable system for the past 3 years.

  5. I did sign up for email reminders - it's just the whole "unknown" factor. I know that when I go through the process once, I'll be fine.

  6. Jen, I am with you on that last concern, it held me back from going paperless for a long time. I figured out the worry wasn't really about me forgetting to pay, but not having the money to pay! Once I did go paperless, I keep track of my checking acct better by a spreadsheet, all worries are gone.

    Know what else you can do - paperless CHECKING ACCTS! ING online has an option for this and I'm looking into going that root. Maybe that can be in your "some day to do" list.

  7. Thanks for the tip, Erikka. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to take the paperless chequing account route, yet, but I'll keep it in mind for later.