Fire The Post Office
Is it possible to conduct all your correspondence without the Post Office? Probably not, but it is possible to automate your financial transactions where the USPS is minimized. There are always going to be cases where mail won’t be replaced soon (wedding invitations, e.g.). We don’t need mail to send letters anymore but a mailed hand-written letter or card still has more significance today because it is rarer.
The USPS has recently changed its pricing to allow for inflation adjustments. Each year, the price of postage will likely go up at least 2 cents. Already, the cost of postage has made certain correspondence uneconomic to use the USPS. Don’t worry, because here’s how you can fire the USPS.
Eliminate Mailing Checks
The first step to firing the USPS is to setup Bill Pay. This will eliminate sending outbound mail that you need to send. This will save you both time and money, as I discussed in a previous series of articles.
The reality of Bill Pay is that there will still be paper checks sent out, so the USPS will still be involved. However, you still get the benefit of not having to take the time to write the check and mail the letter yourself.
Next, take on your inbound mail.
There are financial related mailings that you get that do not require action on your part – these are bank monthly statements, investment trading alerts, investment quarterly statements/proxy voting alerts, credit card statements. Institutions have already made a lot of progress in this area over the past years. I have accounts that have been paperless for years now.
To go paperless on these accounts, you will need to fill out a disclaimer on the account website for each company. When these documents are ready you will instead get an email message. For some correspondence, there are legal requirements that you be notified – e.g., stock trades, so email notification is required to stop the mail.
Some companies have taken an aggressive stand on this – they will charge you if you want to continue to receive documents in the mail.
If you are comfortable will paying your bills online, take the next step and Go Paperless for your bills. I currently have the following bills setup to be paperless: credit card and cell phone.
Now, the Real Prize
The next generation of bill payment services will offer the ability to automate the billing part as well as the payment part. This means that your paper bills won’t go to your mailbox, but will go directly to your bill payment service. How’s that for service? In the future, these interfaces will become fully electronic on both ends so that no paper is sent anywhere.
In a future post, I will talk about this innovation once I start using it.