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Monday, February 4, 2013

Getting documents into SafelyFiled

One challenge in today's world is that important information is delivered to us in different formats.
  • Some items you have had in paper format for quite some time, e.g. birth certificates, wills, powers of attorney.
  • Some still arrive as paper, e.g., receipts and warranties from stores, monthly statements that arrive in the mail.
  • Some arrive via email, e.g. coupon codes or membership notifications.
  • Others are accessed from secured web sites, e.g. bank statements
Electronic DocumentsIt is straightforward to get items already in electronic form into SafelyFiled. Items that arrive in your email inbox can be forwarded to your SafelyFiled account. The email and any attachments will be uploaded into your SafelyFiled To Be Filed folder.

For items that you have in physical paper form, it is less obvious how to get a digital copy into SafelyFiled. Fortunately, technology has moved along, giving you several options.
Large Paper DocumentsFor large documents, like wills, leases, or contracts, you will want to use a flat bed scanner with a paper feeder. If you don't have one sitting around your house, don't fret. They are available for use at many locations such as office support stores like FedEx Office or perhaps your local library. Your insurance agent, bank, or tax accountant likely also has this equipment and may be willing to help your out.

Small Paper Documents

For small documents, like warranties, insurance cards, and receipts, your phone or camera can come to the rescue. Just taking a picture of a insurance card can make a good enough image. Make sure you have good light, and your are not blocking the light source while taking the picture. On the iPhone, we have the SafelyScan App that helps your take pictures of multiple pages of a document and combine them together into one pdf document. The app then securely uploads the document to your SafelyFiled account.

Once you have your document on your Android phone (by taking a picture or using a scanning app), you can select the share option and email it to your SafelyFiled account. Since email is not secured in transit, I would only recommend this for non-sensitive documents. Otherwise you can save it to your Android device's file system. If the device is a tablet, you can access the SafelyFiled web site from the browser and upload the document directly. Or you can use a USB cable to plug your phone into your computer, use the browser on your computer to access the SafelyFiled web site, and upload documents from your phone storage. 

Thanks to new and evolving technologies you have many options to quickly, easily, and securely unify the storage of your important documents in SafelyFiled. Paper may never disappear, but by using digital copies and making appropriate notes and tags you can organize your important physical documents and your important digital documents together.

You can download statements from secured web sites onto your computer and then upload them into your SafelyFiled account. Making a snapshot of your financial statements on a quarterly or annual basis is a very good idea. It provides you a historical view of your financial status and keeps all of your financial information together in a form easier to search and review than the shoe box you may currently be using.

If you have a small business or a busy household, it may even make sense to purchase your own all-in-one device that prints, scans, and faxes. CNET's latest best-of-list for all-in-one devices includes some with paper feeders for under $200. (and some without paper feeders for under $100).

While we don't have an app on Android devices yet, there are several options for acquiring and uploading documents with an Android phone or tablet. You can use the smart phone camera directly, or there are several Android apps that take pictures of documents, spiff them up, and make a PDF document out of them. I have used Handy Scanner, and I've been very impressed with the quality of the resulting document. I tried scanning the same warranty with the office flatbed scanner and Handy Scanner. The flatbed version was a little better but not that much better. The actual document size was smaller from Handy Scanner. CamScanner is the other Android scanning app that's highly rated. New apps appear so quickly, that in six months there will no doubt be new scanning apps to try out.
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