No more paper statements only electronic

My online bank (Alliant CU) is making me move to only electronic statements soon. I suppose this is the new normal. Do all online banks require this these days?

I’m with a trust company and they started charging for paper, so this is the trend I think. I just download the PDFs and throw them into my Google Drive storage. If they were paper they would take up so much room. PDFs are much better.

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Good idea; the issue is remembering to print to PDF

I have a repeating monthly reminder in my task manager to get my PDFs. What’s this “remembering” thing you speak of? You can get chimes, texts, emails

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If its like the statements at all of my financial institutions you just download them when they become available. You should not have to Print to PDF because they would already be in PDF form.

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I agree completely. I used to have piles of paper statements and then I’d take them to our local shredding event. With paperless, you get a notification of when the statement is ready, or you can check whenever you want. You can view it, download it, save it. I save all of my statements and it quick and easy to find them in my computer/cloud storage.

The only issue I ever had was many years ago, I tried paperless billing for a credit card, and my email mailbox filled up, so I didn’t see the notification and missed the bill.
Now much more storage is available for emails (though Gmail users will want to stay on top of their 15 GB limit). Plus nowadays, credit card websites allow you to get multiple notifications via email and text, so I doubt something like that would happen if you set up notifications.

Paperless is really great!

Ok thanks all. I feel much better about paperless bank statements now. I too just need to remember to save them to my computer. As for credit cards, I am not yet sold. I like getting the mailed statement as a reminder to pay it off and really like avoiding those expensive late fees.

Eric

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Even with paper statements, it’s useful to set up alerts on your email and/or phone about paying your bill. The credit cards I use have the alerts available to set up.

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Ok I’ll have to look into that. It’ll save trees, clutter, and money since I get charged for paper statements now.

Pros and cons to online or emailed statements:

Yes, you can save a tree or a forest by using online statements. Many institutions allow accessing them for a few years. However, in some cases you may need them for 7 years for business or tax purposes.

In my case I am getting older and at some point my family will need to take over my accounts (hopefully at least a decade or two from now). I am trying to document access and accounts at banks and vendors and customer records for my home business. As family will take over the farm, I also need to supply access to various utilities and entities involved. This is easiest if there is a paper trail that arrives each month from banks and utilities with account info and so on. Trying to supply account numbers with passwords is impossible, so those printed documents are more help.

I have seen people suggest that you set up an email just for home bills and perhaps I will try that instead. You set up one email account and have banks, tax bills, utilities and so on sent to that one address. That may make my documenting easier.

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So all of those PDFs you download to your computer… one copy goes to the cloud, one copy goes to a USB drive. Of course, you need to organize properly into folders, and put dates and descriptions in the filename, like “Vanguard Joseph Roth IRA 2020-08-08.pdf”. In my emergency book for my wife and kids, I have a little manila folder which is 3-ring punched, so it clips into the book. In the envelope are two things - the safe deposit box keys, and a USB drive full of PDF statements.

You know… computers can search the contents of a PDF file. So if you have 100s of documents, the computer will find the occurence of a single word. If you bought an “Appaloosa” horse in 2003, and it’s in a PDF document (not as a raster image scan in PDF format mind you, but as a real document in PDF format), your kids will find that keyword much faster than by reading paper pages with their eyes. And there’s more complex AI software they can use to mine the “data lake” of your business files, if it’s a big enough enterprise.

Thanks. I’m aware of the PDF and document contents being accessible to searches. I also use FileSerarchy that allows that along with the global search in Thunderbird.

My situation is somewhat different than other retired people. I still run two businesses. One is a farm with a lot of documents. That business will be ongoing after I die and is the reason I set up am email box for online documents related to its management. Since my Sister will inherit the farm and bills and the farm lease, she will need ready access to those documents and also to pass along to the management company. They would also be accessible to her should I end up in the hospital even for a short stay, although they are auto-pay.

The second business is a Website Hosting and Consulting business for neighbor farms. That one requires me to start moving management to their hosting account to the owners so that they can pay their own hosting accounts directly rather than to me as a pass-along to the company that supplies the service. I am a reseller. Those documents are not part of the house/farm and there is no reason my Sister needs to be involved.

Thirdly, my retirement financial statements are not a part of the household items and will not be made available until such a time as I die. The last thing I would want is for family to start deciding their lives based upon what they might inherit. They might continue to be frugal until then and that means a more carefree life later. Besides it ain’t cheap to live where I do, although I have made it relatively less expensive for them.

So, I have my will, Family Trust documents, checkbooks and passwords stored in the safe. Keys are both here and with a 3rd party. I also have a list of credit cards and accounts listed. I also have written an obituary and have cremation and ash scattering set up. I have a management company set up to take over the farm work and crop care in the event I die so my Sister can live here without having to worry about farming. Since the farm and house are paid for, we just need to have someone do the work in exchange for the crops.

You know, I wish I was just a bit more organized… :slight_smile:

While PDF format might find the word “Appaloosa”, it also might not. PDF format is positional and it might decide to put “App” in one place and “aloosa” in another. The format is great for printing, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t want to print, and I don’t want to look at a print format. I want the data! Then I can put that data, very efficiently, where I need it, and can find it. I can format it any way I want, analyze it with my own software, and not have to dig through 42 pages ^ to find what I want. So as not to derail this thread, I created another one [Machine readable statements: an investor's right?].

^ Not an exaggeration. Mine plus my wife’s Fidelity statements are that many pages. IRA’s, HSA’s, Roth’s and taxable, it’s over the top. I don’t want or need 95% of what they print. I want the beginning and ending balances, and transactions that affect the balance. The rest is fluff.

Would it help to download CSV files instead of PDFs? Fidelity lets you do that right?

Thanks for mentioning the CSV option. I had meant to cover that. There is currently a CSV link, true, but there are two problems there. First, the content of the CSV file is insufficient to do account reconciliation. It would need starting and ending balances on each account, and every balance affecting transaction. The CSV does not even include all accounts (missing the 529), and for the accounts it does have, it does not have the transactions, only the beginning and ending balances. Secondly, according to a response I got from Fidelity, not only are they not going to fix the CSV to include transactions, they are planning on removing the CSV option, and so suggested I not depend upon it.

I suggest to you that your data format preferences do not represent the typical investor’s desires and requirements.

You may find that a solution is not too far in the future a but I’m pretty sure the human-readable format will remain and the machine-readable technology will adapt to that standard.

If there is a enough of a demand for what you describe, it will probably result in a readily available solution soon.

You are right about the PDF being a print-oriented format. It was developed by Adobe systems to give people in the graphics industry a way to exchange text between different proprietary composing/printings systems. At the time and for ten years prior, many typefaces in the graphic repro industry brought unbelievably high usage fees. Adobe took full advantage of that niche.

If your problem is sufficient to warrant the investment, you could buy a database management package and build your own solution. It’s not that difficult if you’re willing to spend a couple of evenings a week on the effort. You can construct your own database using multiple files from different sources and add the fields you need based on the data you import.

When I was in real estate I used one to analyze the sales performance of hundreds of brokers and agents.

Hey Woody, thanks for continuing the conversation. I agree that most people don’t reconcile in a bottoms-up way, like I do. That does makes me a-typical, I suppose. I have heard of quite a few more technical types that have an independent way to reconcile in the bottoms-up way. Some of them have a somewhat low volume of trades, and simply do manual entry in a system on a PC. To match the statement, they use functionality in Excel spreadsheet to pull-in the price [ something like =NUMBERVALUE(WEBSERVICE(“http://download.finance.yahoo.com/d/quotes.csv?s=INTU&f=l1”)) ]
This requires timing the update of the spreadsheet to match the closing date of the spreadsheet, but does work for many people. Also people use “home budgeting software”, like Quicken to automatically acquire the information from their bank and financial institution. That requires not only buying software (renting software, actually), but also trusting a third party with credentials, which I’m not comfortable with.

Thanks for the suggestion about a database management solution. That expands the topic beyond where I was, which was what machine readable data was made available, and what the investor could do with the data once they’ve acquired it.

My investment tracking database is very old “abandonware”, but it works for me; I can automatically load data, automatically export data, and of primary interest, can reconcile balances for my accounts, and not simply presume the financial institution did it right. Of course they do it right. Always. But, as you observed, and I agreed, I’m a strange duck.

Behaviorally speaking, all of the attention to individual trades and monthly results is possibly counter productive. A long term investor should be able to stick to a strategy and walk away, and I say that as an active trader. I manage top-down only. That’s the only way to stay sane.

Also your system sounds complex. How sustainable is it as you age? What’s your succession plan? Who’s driving it if you unwind from this mortal coil tomorrow?

I agree with your investment philosophy and try to practice low-stress investing, myself. Specifically, I defined asset allocation targets a decade ago, and those have not changed. I review the difference between target and actuals monthly, but it’s very rare that I need to rebalance. So, no, I’m not an active trader.

If the complexity you mention is about the spreadsheets that mark-to-market, I don’t do that myself, but I know people who do, which is why I mentioned it. My “system” wasn’t too complicated when I could download the data in a ready-state. It gets more complicated if the data isn’t in a usable format and requires tedious parsing. My successors don’t really need to do anything but spend the money, heheh! The asset allocation would drift, but that’s no big deal.