Photo: Brian Bowen Smith
Step back and size up the clutter. A lot of those piles sitting in front of you are wholly unnecessary in our cyberfriendly world. You can receive bills electronically via your bank or credit union's website—it should be free (if not, consider switching banks)—and with just a few clicks you can authorize direct e-payments from your checking account.
Bye-bye, (manual) checkbook balancing. Moving monthly bill paying online will help you stay on top of your income and outgo because all debits and credits are tracked for you; no input necessary. You can also set up e-mail alerts to remind you when you need to log on and take care of business, or create ongoing automatic monthly transfers (so you'll never forget to pay a bill again!).
Take proper caution. Worried about cybersafety? Just make sure to use a password-protected secure network when logging onto your account; that means no bill paying from public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Clutter be gone. Since most statements are readily available via the Web, you don't have to obsess about keeping records at home. For example, because you can see your annual benefits estimate from the Social Security Administration online, you can toss paper statements from years past and even the current one once you verify it's up-to-date. (Go to SSA.gov and click on Estimate Your Retirement Benefits.)
Next: More ways to go green
From the March 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine