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Paperless Office: The Secret Savings

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In a conversation with a friend today, it came up in the conversation that we rent a 3-bedroom place. (I don't know how this hadn't come up in the past). Almost as soon as I mentioned it, I thought to myself, "We don't need 3-bedrooms... we could save money if we went with something a little smaller." This lead me to reflect on why we went went for a 3-bedroom place. When I looked back on the decision it was a combination of getting a dog (who has quickly grown into a big dog) and the fact that we used our office quite often.

What has changed? Well our dog hasn't shrunk. It turns out that we use our office less. Why? There are at least four reasons:

  1. We use less paper than we have in the past - We aren't completely paperless... truthfully we aren't even close. However, we deal with less paper than we did 3 years ago.
  2. Our office is further away - It's a bit of a winding staircase to get to our office. I'm not going to play the Lazy card here, but the dining room table can serve as a desk and its closer.
  3. Laptops are our friends - In the past we'd trek up to the office (okay, I'm playing the lazy card now) to use the desktop. However, a laptop is small and convenient enough that it can do 99% of what we need... no office trip required.

I've known for some time that going paperless has its advantages. It's environmentally friendly. It is easy to backup your your data remotely. You don't have to physically store the paper. However, I never thought that saving the need for a whole room (and the associated the money savings) is perhaps the biggest reason to go paperless.

Posted on October 6, 2010.

This post deals with:

... and focuses on:

environment, Productivity

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6 Responses to “Paperless Office: The Secret Savings”

  1. You’re absolutely correct! I’m the author of Taming the Paper Tiger and have been helping people organize their paper for over 30 years, and now we’re helping them eliminate it. One of realities is that the 20-30 year olds never had the problem because they grew up paperless, but the 40+ are really struggling. I’ve developed an Almost Paperlessâ„¢ program which focuses on getting people to start with what they can eliminate instead of focusing on what they can’t — it amazing how much that shift helps. It also helps to have a good scanner — I love the Fujitsu ScanSnap (no financial interest here!).

  2. Oh you read my mind here. We have two desktops in the office, but I hardly ever wander in there anymore. My wife does, but I mainly work on the laptop. We’ve talked about selling the DT ‘puters, and getting her a laptop. That may happen sooner than later. We’re already on a wireless network, so it’s not like we have to be plugged in to the printer. It just makes sense.

    Now–if I can just get her to print less, I’d be a happy pappy.

  3. I’m not completely paperless either. Still working on it. I have begun scanning paper bills onto CD’s (or downloading the pdf files from the billers website). So that I don’t need to save the paper copies, thus freeing up storage space (eventually). At some point, I plan to have the billers (that provide the service) to bill us paperlessly.

    We still have desktops. Old ones at that. Windows XP on mine and windows 98 on hers. It’s just not in the budget, to get the laptop that we both desire. Maybe one day. First things first though, and that’s a job. In the meantime though, I will work to get myself more paperless.

  4. chew on it says:

    I try to go paperless every chance I can, but certain organization I deal with still aren’t paperless… nonetheless, I’m so used to a full sized keyboard and mouse that even with a laptop, I spend most of my time in the office… old habits die hard. In fact, I’m thinking of getting an large external monitor so I can have more monitor space…

  5. Tim says:

    let’s get back to correctly defining terms. You are paying less, not saving more on something you pay for. The only way you are saving is if you do not spend the difference in what you use to pay versus what you now pay. plus, if you weren’t going to pay for something at one price, you haven’t saved anything by buying it for less.

    going paperless does mean you have to store something (i.e. hard drive or stored media) unless you are paying for an online provider to store the data for you. i got one of those nifty fire hard drives, although i keep extra back up in a fire save and flash drive of really important things in my grandma’s asparagus garden buried in a bomb proof container.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Not that Merriam-Webster is the definitive source, but I feel pretty comfortable with their definitions in general. According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/save definition 2c of the intransitive verb is “to spend less money.”

      It gets very complex, and off the topic of going paperless, if you start going into what happens with the difference in savings. It sounds like if you put it in a savings account, you consider it a savings. However, what if you put the difference towards paying off a mortgage early? What about if I spend the difference to enhance my website which brings me income? That seems to be more a question of budgeting after the fact. However, I will admit that in my personal case, the savings of going paperless will not be immediately realized. It won’t be until next May that we look towards a new rental lease. We may be able to move to a cheaper place with a smaller office (or no office at all). On the other hand, if we have children, we may prevent future spending by not needing to get a bigger place.

      It is possible to not pay an online provider to store data. For example, if I get statements sent to a free gmail account, I have not physically stored anything, nor have I paid someone else to electronically store it for me.

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