Last week I bought a paper scanner. But it wasn’t just any scanner. It was the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner. And it’s changed my life.
Sound a bit dramatic? It’s not.
Imagine an organized, type A personality kind of person. Now imagine the opposite of that kind of person. I’m the opposite.
The result is I stuff paper everywhere. Tax time is a dreaded experience as I attempt conquer shoeboxes of paper. And I typically delay submitting health insurance claims or Flexible Spending Account forms because of the paper. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my lack of organization costs my family money. I hate it.
So with the hope and expectancy of a young child on Christmas morning, I bought the Fujitsu ScanSnap. And I’m glad I did. Here are 8 ways the paper scanner has changed everything.
1. Tax Receipts: All receipts for charitable donations are immediately scanned and uploaded into a folder in DropBox. So that receipt for money we gave the local marching band last Saturday is scanned and in its proper place, rather than lost in the bottom of a drawer.
2. Medical Receipts: Medical receipts that we need to submit to the insurance company for reimbursement are scanned and saved. We can then use the original to submit with the insurance claim form. No more copying and saving the paper in a file somewhere.
3. Insurance Claim Form: Speaking of insurance, we’ve completed all the information on the form that never changes. Then we scanned the form and saved it to DropBox. Now when we need to submit a claim, the form is already 75% complete.
4. Business Receipts: All business receipts are scanned and saved in DropBox (can you tell we love DropBox?). I described this process in more detail in an article on tracking business receipts and finances. Now the files and files of paper are gone. More importantly, I actually know where the receipts are located.
5. Scanned Signatures are a Snap: I’m in the process of opening an inherited IRA. The advisor needed my signatures on the application and other forms. Signed, scanned, and sent. Done and done.
6. Statements: So many of us keep boxes and boxes of bank statements. The first step is get rid of what you don’t need. But what you do need can be scanned in seconds. With the ScanSnap, it automatically scans both sides of the paper, which makes scanning something like a bank statement really easy.
7. Honey, can you scan 82 pictures for me? My wife and daughter love to scrapbook. And they love to make me part of the process. I’m the Chief-Picture-Scanning-Officer in our family, a job I loathed until we got the ScanSnap. Have you ever scanned photos by placing them one-by-one on a flatbed scanner? I have. It’s awful. Now I drop the pictures into the ScanSnap’s feeder, and it scans every picture. And even better, it uploads them directly into iPhoto. Even Steve Jobs would be impressed.
8. The Important Stuff: If you died, would the right people know where your will is located? How about life insurance policies? Investments? This has become very real to me as I handle my step-mother’s estate. Scanning this information and saving it in a safe place that the right people know about gives you a lot of peace of mind.
The real change for me is the feeling that I’ve got my act together. When I need something, I know right where it is. And I’ve gotten rid of a ton of paper.
Published or updated October 30, 2012.