A week back I received a letter from T Rowe Price in my mail box telling me about a fee increase which is to be in effect starting September. T Rowe will assess an annual fee of $20 for mutual fund accounts having balance less than $10,000. I have four mutual fund accounts with them, with none having that kind of balance, so starting from September 1, I would have required to pay $80 per year towards fees (Account service fee, fancy name). Good for me that the ways to avoid the account service fee was also mentioned in the letter.
Only one way I could have had avoided the fee was to go paperless on statements, trade confirmations, prospectus and shareholder reports (other way was to make combined balance worth more than $100,000, oops.. so close). This is true with almost any financial institution these days. All of them offers paperless features. Not only they save you money, but also they are environment friendly.(Read – 101 ways to save energy and environment).
Other areas where you can go paperless are your bills and receipts from in-store shopping. We need to keep all such documents for year-end tax filing purpose. If you itemize your return you should have those receipts ready for IRS audit, should it happen.
The ink that is used to pint such receipts, usually disappears within few months, then it becomes hard to read it. To the rescue, there is an online service called Shoeboxed. They charge $10 per month for individual account (with 30 day trial, no risk period) to store those receipts online. You can send up to 50 receipts per month by mail and within a week they will upload those to you account.
In my case I take images of them every time I have a new receipt with my cell phone, and upload on my Shoeboxed account. Not only for tax purpose, I use them for my budgeting purpose as well. At the same time a Shoeboxed account help you de-clutter! You can first try it out at no cost in free trial period, you can cancel within first 30 days,if you don’t like and not pay any money.
Now let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of going paperless.
Pros and cons of going paperless
1. Avoid service fees, cool, that is $80 a year save.
2. Will receive e-mails 2 days before I normally receive paper mails, early document delivery
3. Less clutter at home, I receive almost 50 paper mails from them in a year, they occupy a large space and I have Fidelity and TD Ameritrade as well, huh!
4. Can access my previous statements, 12 in this case, I can get access to them even from my iPhone.
5. Less environmental damage (well as much as I could do), let the pleasant picture below talk about this, can save trees like these.
6. Save on time as I don’t have to go through pile of papers to find the old bills, more weekend free time, wife would be happier.
1. I am used to read physical copies of shareholder reports and new fund prospectus from them, how can I go paperless suddenly, nope nope.
2. Risk of missing an important line item on my statement, if there’s any, on electronic copy, what if I miss it every month? Would I be paying more than $80 I am saving this way.
As you can see, pros easily overshadowed cons, only if I can be extra vigilant and scrutinize my e-bills, I made a pledge to check each and every bill closely, marked my calendar and went for enrolling in to paperless delivery, within next 5 minutes I saved $80 bucks from draining away each year.
The point is, it costs nearly a dollar to print every statement and mail it to your address. In a year that’s a neat $12 bucks, and add to it the mandatory disclosures and other communication that they send you periodically. A $20 fee straight.
In this era of cut throat competition to surpass each other’s profit margins, these institution looking for ways to cut cost, if a particular way to cut cost proves to be successful for one, in no time every other ones replicate the same practice.
No wonder, a research online revealed that there are various other financials institutions and banks exist that offer reward for customers for going green.
Discover cards is running $30,000 give away for going green
TD Ameritrade charges $2 for each paper statements
Vanguard has exactly same service fee (as T Rowe Price) of $20 for each fund with a balance less than $10,000
These are just a few names, almost every brokerage and funds have some kind of incentive or other for customers when they opt for paperless statements.
One Unique mention is of T-Mobile, which plants a tree for each customer opting for paperless statement, go T!
|Note: If you receive a mailer from your broker or fund managers on a new or increased fee (it’s mandated by fed, you got to receive this notification in writing before the fee increase), which can be waived by going green, log on to online account and search for the same notice there, chances are it’s in your account mail box, and in electronic version, you might find a link to enroll in paperless statement. It won’t take more than 2 mins.|