Monday, November 28, 2022

Everyone has that file cabinet or drawer that is overflowing with papers, bills and receipts. If you are lucky enough to have a spouse who is super organized and a QuickBooks expert, you are as blessed as I am. My wife pays the household bills, then puts all the papers in a bin. At some point in the month we will take out all of the documents and scan them.

The question is, why do you need to save your PSE&G bill from 2001? Is it hoarding or do you truly need that Great Adventure receipt from 2005?

As per Chaim Stadtmauer, Esq., an e-discovery expert, “Every profession has a time limit on how long one has to save documents.” One should make sure to save those documents for the time recommended, before discarding them. Check with your accountant or lawyer on what the laws are that relate to you on document storage. As e-filing is becoming more popular, courts are beginning to accept digital copies.

But back to the issue of all those papers you are holding. There are some simple solutions that can turn your papers into digital files.

Most new scanners today have a feature to convert documents to PDF (portable document format), and you can save them right on your PC. If you want to take the extra step, you can save these documents to Dropbox or Google Drive for cloud backup.

I recommend making a category folder for a year, such as 2015, then name each file something like, PSEG06012015, so you’ll know by looking at the file what company, month and year the bills are from.

I recommend the NEAT scanner. The scanner can be purchased at a retail store online or from their site at www.neat.com. I was able to get a one refurbished from the site at a great price.

Setup is quite simple. Though most NEAT scanners have to be directly connected to the PC, the newest model has a Wifi connection to any PC.

Among the amazing features of the NEAT scanner is the OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Plus, there are three different-sized trays, so you can easily scan items like documents, receipts and business cards. And if you have a receipt that is actually document-sized, one can change the type of file it is identified as after scanning is complete. Once the file is in the PC, the NEAT scanner will pick up the name of the vendor, amount and tax.

The next step is to check the file and make sure all the data is correct. Once you add a vendor it will be easily accessible for the next scan. The NEAT scanner can even take those long grocery store receipts. It really works well.

The NEAT scanner has an amazing filing system to make life easier on those who are not like my wife, super organized from birth.

Recently NEAT introduced the option for saving files on their cloud space for $6 a month. This will sync the files on your PC and to the cloud. In case of a PC outage or a new purchase, all of the files will be saved and synced just by logging in to the NEAT cloud space.

If you need to retrieve a receipt, the files can be exported to PDF or other formats, either for emailing or printing.

NEAT also has the ability to export to most popular formats such Excel, Quicken and QuickBooks. There are TAX categories if you really want to go the extra mile for your files organization. There is a space for notes to remember what the bill was for.

NEAT cloud service also comes with an App for smartphones. You can take a picture of your receipt and upload it straight to the cloud.

If you are short on time, you can even scan all your bills all at once. NEAT will show you which bills you haven’t reviewed yet.

Once your scanning is completed, remember to check with your professional or accountant on how long you need save the hard copies. We save years 2013 and 2014 in the filing cabinet. For the bills no longer needed those can be shredded or boxed and stored.

Going paperless will make you more efficient. No longer will you have to dig through all of those papers to find your lawnmower receipt. The NEAT scanner is so easy that I taught my son, nephew and a summer intern how to use the scanner in under one hour. It isn’t something that has to be done in one night, but the NEAT scanner is so easy to use you don’t even have to separate the files by type until after scanning. If you want to enlist your children’s help, maybe offer them a reward of some sort to help scan all your documents.

You would be surprised how little space all the files would take up on your PC or on the cloud.

Here is a safety tip. Take all of your important documents such a birth certificates, passports, credit cards, house insurance etc., and scan them either with a standard scanner or the NEAT scanner. Purchase a USB memory stick, save all of the data and store the stick in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box. Chas V’Shalom if someone would have an emergency in the house these files are very critical.

It bears mentioning that many of us were changed forever after Hurricane Sandy. PCs get wet and documents can be damaged due to water damage, so cloud storage or USB memory storage really is important.

Most banks and utilities are going paperless. I have to admit I still get a paper bill just in case but it gets scanned either way to save on space and time.

If you have any questions or comments, Shneur Garb can be reached at [email protected] Shneur is the CEO at The Garb IT Consulting Group in Teaneck, NJ.

By Shneur Garb

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