Going paperless - first step into minimalism

I'm feeling exhausted since some time about all the clutter we manage to accumulate in our household. The problem isn't that our home is messy as I would consider us as organized people. Everything has its own place and it looks clean.
But still, I've this feeling that a lot of stuff isn't used that often or isn't essential to our lives.
I don't know about you but since we've got children, this feeling seems to be reinforced with all the toys that our kids receive every now and then.
Last week, I eventually googled for "minimalism" and I stumbled upon Becoming minimalist, the famous blog of Joshua Becker that I already visited in the past, but never dived into.

As with any new topic, I think I just needed to have a blog to read from A to Z about the journey of an inspiring guy in order to get into the field.
It is a bit like with Mr Money Mustache when I was looking for a path to a wealthy life.

So I started to read Joshua's blog from the beginning (i.e. 2008) and I got infected by the minimalism virus. One week before I discovered his blog, I actually already started to clean our basement but I was feeling alone in my task. Now that I found a community that gives a structure to the decluttering task, my own path looks clearer than ever: back to the essential!

Going paperless, first step into minimalism

As Joshua points it out, he is always looking for possibilities to minimalize his space, even if he has only few hours ahead of him. I tend to do the same but I'm trying hard to get one thing done after the other, and not to multi-task, neither to start one thing and then another one but without finishing any.
Hence my first step into minimalism of the moment is : going paperless!

What does that mean in reality? Well, we talk about:

  • 1/ Eleven binders (thankfully very well organized) + their counterpart archives in the basement
  • 2/ One big IKEA box where we store every single postcard and wedding/birthday/etc. invitation received
  • 3/ Recipes
  • 4/ Children drawings

I still didn't officially convince wife for the three last points but it doesn't matter at the moment as my focus goes first to the eleven binders and their archives - which are taking most of the space. One step at a time.

For this first huge decluttering step, we use the following approach:

  • 1/ Go one binder after the other to feel some progress and don't start multi-tasking on several binders at the same time
  • 2/ Go through the binder and drop every document which is older than what your country laws say (see FRC recommendations (in French) for Switzerland) - this step alone allowed us to dramatically decrease the amount of paper already
  • 3/ Scan each remaining document of the binder and throw it in the paper recycle bin
  • 4/ Donate the binder or sell it if you manage to
  • 5/ Congrats! You're done with one! Rinse and repeat with the ten binders left!

As a frugal and newly minimalist person, I tried to find the tools to scan and organize my documents that would allow me to do it from anywhere, at anytime, and that would hopefully not require new hardware.
At first, I thought that I would at least need to buy a proper scanner to have crystal clear documents. One that interested me was the Futjisu ScanSnap iX500 model which is worth CHF 400. Not that frugal...
I reviewed several setups until I found the best one for myself, which allowed me to not buy anything new and do it all with stuff I already own.

Tools to go paperless:

  • iPhone 6 with its crystal clear camera (not free but I'm sure any smartphone can do it)
  • Evernote Scannable app (free)
  • Dropbox Pro account (1To of storage for 9.99$/month or 99$/year - you can also use the free version if you don't need more than 2Go of storage)

I basically sort document by folder and filename. I decided to not use Evernote as 1/ I don't like their software User Experience and 2/ I don't want to be bound to a software for my critical documents.
For sure it would be great to be able to search in scanned PDF but in case I really miss this Evernote feature, I'll try something like this OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software.

I think this first minimalist project will be one of the longer I will do as the number of sheets is huge! But you can't believe how much such a first big step motivates me!

I'll make sure to publish an "after" picture to share with you the results vs. the picture on top of this post.

Minimalism and Financial Independence?

You might wonder what the heck Minimalism has to do with my Financial Independence journey?!? Actually both are very tied. We always talk about being frugal as a strategy to achieve the FI vision. But being frugal already implies spending.
On the opposite, minimalism should strongly help me with my Early Retirement goal via the following benefits:

  • Not spending at first, and keeping only what's essential to our household
  • Get freed of all this clutter to focus on what truly matters
  • Get more time and space to think about new opportunities to generate passive income, hence build more wealth

Thanks to minimalism, we will manage to save even more money than we do nowadays!

What about you guys/gals? Are you minimalism addicts already? Ever heard about the word? I want to learn everything possible about this new topic in my life!



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