Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States, I’m going to say that one of the things I’m thankful for is the Internet. It turns out that it makes a lot of things easier. One such thing is how much simpler my bill paying has become since all of my financial institutions adapted to the Web. Ten years ago I was still writing checks to different organizations on a monthly basis, but now I can either use direct draft or pay the bills online through my bank. I’m even saving paper by having all of my statements delivered electronically. (Going paper-free isn’t just good for the earth; Jason’s written about how a paperless classroom is a disease-free classroom.)
The trouble with electronic statements, however, is that they don’t always stick around on my financial institution’s website. If I want my credit card statement from 18 months ago, for example, I have to submit a request to American Express and wait 24 hours or more until it’s available. I used to save my paper statements but since moving to electronic banking, I don’t. I’ve often thought that I should get in the habit of downloading each statement, renaming it, and then putting it in a folder designated for that particular bank. But I just haven’t made it a part of my process.
So that’s why I was excited to discover FileThis a couple of months ago. FileThis is a web-based service for automatically and securely fetching your documents from your financial institutions. It’s so simple that you can be up and running in less than 5 minutes.
First, you’ll need to sign up for an account, which takes about 60 seconds including email verification.
Second, you’ll have to choose where you want your documents delivered. You can select from a range of cloud-based services, such as ProfHacker favorites Dropbox, Google Drive, or Evernote. Other options include Personal.com and Box, but best of all, as far as I’m concerned, is that you can have your documents delivered right to your computer. If you choose that option, you’ll download an installer, give it your FileThis login information, and then choose a folder for the documents to go.
Third, you’ll add connections between your FileThis account and your different financial institutions.
After selecting an institution you simply put in your login information, and FileThis authenticates with that service. Once it’s done that, it can begin fetching statements. It renames the statement based on the account it comes from and the date of the statement and then sends it to the destination you’ve chosen.
That’s it! Five minutes after signing up, your documents will start to move wherever you’ve chosen to have them sent. The first download of documents can take a while, depending on how much history you have with the particular institution. For example, FileThis was able to get all of my Amazon orders back to January 2012, which took a long time.
Of course, Amazon isn’t a financial institution that I would normally keep records for. But I’ve found it handy to get the receipts collected in one place for record keeping for taxes (those books I buy for work really are tax deductible, it turns out!) as well as for potential warranty issues. FileThis can also connect to some utility companies, your cell phone company, some mortgage finance firms, and more.
The one downside for FileThis is that you can only connect to six institutions if you want to use the free version of the service. It will search those institutions once a week for new documents. They offer two paid plans as well: $2/month for 12 connections or $5/month for 30 connections. The last of those plans searches your institution once per day for activity. While I have more than six accounts that I could connect FileThis to, I’ve chosen the six most important ones to me, and I’m pretty happy for the nothing I’m paying for the service—especially since a single connection to a bank will pull down all of the accounts linked to it (checking, savings, money market, etc.).
As I mentioned, you’ll have to put your different account information into FileThis (login and password) in order to get it to work. I can certainly understand that such a proposition might make one nervous. FileThis understands it too, which is why they have an entire page devoted to their security. In short, they offer encrypted data, encrypted communication between servers, and the immediate deletion of your account if you want to end your use of the service. One still has to trust that these statements are true, although it’s worth noting that they are certified by McAfee, Norton, and Verisign. So that might alleviate some concerns.
If the idea of collecting all of your financial statements and organizing them is appealing but you still don’t want to turn your information over to an outside company, Katie Floyd wrote an article for Macworld earlier this year about how she uses Hazel and Evernote to go paperless. It will involve more work on your part and is for Mac users only, but you’ll end up with something similar to what FileThis provides.
All in all, I’m really happy with FileThis. It does exactly what I was looking for and it does it for free. I can’t ask for much more than that.
How do you manage your electronic statements and receipts? Let us know in the comments!Return to Top