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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SafelyFiled Android App

SafelyFiled releases an Android app to make scanning documents with your smartphone more productive and secure.

Android app on Google Play
Since its first release, SafelyFiled has provided an iPhone app, SafelyScan.  Now Android phone and tablet users have an app as well.  The SafelyFiled Android app, is slightly different than SafelyScan.  Rather than implementing the scanning logic directly, the SafelyFiled Android app leverages the dynamic app marketplace and supports the use of your favorite document generating application on your smartphone, whether it is a scanning app like CamScanner, the PDF viewer app, or the built in camera app.

Use SafelyFiled to "Share" into your account

The SafelyFiled App tells the phone that your SafelyFiled account is a sharing target.  Many applications have a share menu option.  For example on your camera app, you use the Share option to share your photos to facebook or email.

After you install the SafelyFiled app, SafelyFiled will show up in the list when you select the Share word or icon from another app's menu.

Here are some common sharing icons, used in apps.
OpenShare ShareThis

SafelyFiled App example use

For example, you can now use your camera app to take a picture of the receipt for your new home office computer.  Then use the share option to select the SafelyFiled app.
Sharing list including SafelyFiled
  Via the SafelyFiled app log into your account.
SafelyFiled App Login
Once you've logged in, select the file from the camera app to be uploaded into your "To Be Filed" folder.
SafelyFiled upload screen
You can do all of this from your car outside the store where you purchased the computer.  So you have increased the likelihood that you will find a copy of the receipt in two weeks when the new computer's hard disk has died.  You'll also have this information at the end of the year when you are preparing business deductions for your taxes.

Download the app and give it a try. Smartphones give you additional power to keep on top of relevant paperwork and keeping things organized before it is too late. Give us your feedback. A version 2.0 of the SafelyFiled App is in the pipeline, and we want to make sure it serves your needs.
Android app on Google Play

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Document Retention

If you perform an online search for "document retention guidelines" you'll find a bunch of information regarding document storage periods but you have to dig pretty deep to find hard and fast rules.  Even then you may come up empty-handed.

 

Even the irs.gov site has an "it depends" clause.  So how long should you keep documents?  Well, we did some of that research for you and included our findings in a new checklist that we provide to anyone who might find it useful.
What can I throw away?


We have to add a disclaimer just like all of the internet sites we researched because there seems to always be an "it depends" clause depending on the type of document and circumstances.  Tax returns for example have different retention requirements depending on the form and if there was some type of issue with the return.  So in our checklist, we added the longest period of time to cover all circumstances just to be safe.  Retention requirements change over the years, so what is required today may not be the same next year.  Be sure to check the appropriate official website periodically to see if requirements for your files have changed before discarding them.

Save space and money!


The beauty of going digital with your storage is that you no longer have to keep buying storage cabinets to hold those documents for years and years plus you have access to them even away from home.  But no matter how you file them, you still have to come up with a way to organize your files so you can find them easily when needed.  And then there's the issue of others needing to access that information in the event something happens to you. How will they know where you've stored your files?

Mark Snow blogged about your digital legacy in an earlier blog here.  If you haven't seen that blog you may want to read it for some helpful information and insight into your digital legacy and rightful ownership of your files. This is becoming more of an issue with our ever changing technology and move away from paper.  

Now, where did I file that?
The beauty of SafelyFiled is that for a very affordable price, you can store all of your digital documents in one place and keep them as long as you want.   We've also thought about the paper files that you need originals of by adding a "Location" field.  Here you can build your own list of locations where you keep the original paper copies of the file.  That way if your attorney, executor, spouse or children need to find those papers and you aren't there to tell them where you've filed them (or you can't remember either), the info is captured in that location field on your files.  The list of documents that you need originals of is relatively short so the need for physical storage is minimal.  Having a digital copy of those originals is a very good idea in the event of loss or need to replace them.

This a dry topic but we reward you for reading this far! 

 

In addition to capturing document retention info, our Documentation Retention Checklist includes information on whether you need to keep the original of a document as well as recommendations on who you may want to share that document with in the event something happens to you.

Feel free to download this and our other editable checklists here.   When you've gathered your files together, consider storing the digital images of them in SafelyFiled and then sharing them with those who may need access to them. 

To entice you to do that and as a reward for reading this full blog we want to give you a special introductory offer to get you started with a SafelyFiled membership.   If you sign up here you will automatically be given a 50% discount for your first year's membership.  Instead of the normal $48 annual membership fee, you'll pay only $24!

Now, how's that for a reward?


 



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Father's Day

My daughter has a sign in her kitchen that reads, "Nobody notices what I do until I don't do it."


I thought that was my own personal motto, but I suspect it applies to dads, moms, husbands, wives and just about everyone else in a committed relationship.  We all do things that simply need to be done and we do it without any thought of reward or thanks.

My wife and I have a pretty traditional marriage, with duties generally split like they were on Ozzie and Harriet.  There are a few exceptions.  My wife probably does a bit more gardening than Harriet did and I know how to iron a pair of pants and a shirt.  And if my wife were walking around in a dress all day with a pearl necklace, I'd probably get suspicious.  But for the most part, I take care of the car, finances and the house maintenance and she does that other stuff (whatever that is).

In honor of Father's Day, I was thinking about my own father and what he and I, like just about every other father I know, have done that nobody ever notices.  Tasks like changing the furnace filters, the washers on the hoses, and maintaining a supply of light bulbs.  Turning down the heat on the water heater before we go on vacation.  And  checking the sump pump and cleaning the hair out of the bathtub and shower drains.

Thank you Dad!
My wife does stuff too, though I can't really think of what it is right now.  But that's the point.  It's those silent, unnoticed, and necessary acts that when done, really add up to a lifetime of love.

I've also organized my papers so that if anything happens to me, my wife and the kids will be able to find everything easily.  They will know where the insurance policies are, how to find my many passwords and where the bank and brokerage statements are located.  That's one of those unnoticed acts that, like my daughter's sign says, won't be noticed until I don't do it.  But it's done now and I'm sure you can guess what website I used to store and organize it all. 

And so to all of you dads, best wishes from all of us at SafelyFiled for a happy and relaxing Father's Day.  May your children (and your wife) pause and think about, even for a second, then thank you for, that clean furnace filter.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bringing paper to the digital world, other scanning options

As we noted in our previous article, scanning is necessary to bring paper documents into the digital world.  If you don't have your own scanner, don't despair.   There are many places in your community where you can rent or borrow access to a scanner.  Basically, think of where you could access a computer or a copying machine.  It is likely that you could also access a scanner at that location.

Business support stores

Stores like FedEx/Kinkos, Staples, and Office Depot that support business operations also provide scanning services.  They may just take your pile of papers and return a pdf to you, or you might be able to rent access to a scanner and do the job yourself.

Here are links to specific store offerings. 

Libraries and schools

Public facilities like libraries and schools are also likely to provide scanning facilities.  In my local library, the archive department provides scanners (Urbana Free Library).   The library at my local university also provides access to scanners to the public (University of Illinois Library).  Ask your local librarian.  If they don't have scanners, the librarian probably knows where they are available in your community. 


Service professionals

It is quite likely that your attorney, insurance agent, or accountant has a scanner in their office.  Particularly if the items you need to scan are related to their work (e.g. a will and your attorney), they would probably be happy to scan them for you.  Many larger offices now have an scanning option on their copier, so running a few scans is not a big deal.  It doesn't use up physical ink or paper like printing does.

Professional organizers are a growing set of service professional.  In addition to organizing your physical home or office, many professional organizers will organize documents for you in the digital world.  SafelyFiled has been working with members of the National Organization of Professional Organizers (NAPO), and we will soon be providing a list of professional organizers who work with SafelyFiled.


Work and other organizations

Depending on where you work, your office may well have scanners.  If it is ok with your boss, you might be able to scan documents over your lunch hour.  Similarly, many churches have scanners.  They might be willing to help members by letting them scan a few documents.  It wouldn't hurt to ask.