Stuart Ryan is a senior University IT professional, who in addition to his ‘day job’, also runs several technology blogs – Technical Notebook and StuartRyan.com. He also regularly guest blogs for other technology sites like BoxFreeIT and runs technical Wiki space Technical Notebook Wiki.
Stuart says he was programmed from a young age to go into a career in technology and it gives him a unique point of view on Shoeboxed’s offerings – especially around online security.
Shoeboxed: So Stuart how did you come across Shoeboxed?
Stuart: When I stumbled across Shoeboxed on a random Google ad I saw, it seemed too good to be true. I thought if this does what it says it does then it would make my life so much easier. I wasn’t sure it would live up to all it promised, but I signed up to the free trial.
I was so impressed that everything I sent off in the blue envelope magically appeared online and categorised in my account several days later, that I then signed up to a higher month plan. That month I ended up sending my entire backlog of receipts for filing.
Stuart: Actually it was worse than that! I had a room full of them. Until I started using Shoeboxed there were piles and piles of paper everywhere. Doing something with them, like filing, wasn’t something I was particularly diligent with. It was really an opportunity for me to save myself time. I do a lot of overtime so it was a mechanism that replaced me scanning and filing myself – which I could have done, but like everyone else, I just don’t have time.
Shoeboxed: And how do you feel now it’s all done?
Stuart: I feel like this is going to be the easiest tax time ever as I’ve got all my receipts available literally at my fingertips. And that it’s accepted storage mechanism by the ATO gives me a significant comfort factor.
Shoeboxed has really allowed me to get on top of keeping history of my receipts. I’ve always tended to submit my tax returns at the very last minute as it takes me so long to hunt down all my receipts. Now I have all of my receipts categorised so I can claim deductions properly instead of wasting time scratching around for invoices from old files. In fact I might be on my way to a truly paperless tax return.
I also own an apartment with another party so I not only have to pay the bills and I also have to keep track of the shared bills. Shoeboxed allows me to catergorise into a shared cost category which allows me to communicate the correct figures to the other party. It’s been really useful as I haven’t had to manually keep track of that.
Shoeboxed: So you use Shoeboxed for documents as well?
Stuart: Yes. If there’s something that I really need to keep, like warranties or important documents, I send those in too. Sometimes it might get mixed up as a receipt, but you just easily change the category when you go in to check up each month. It’s just nice to have a formal document repository.
I’ve also started using it for storing business cards too.
Shoeboxed: What other useful parts of the service have you used so far?
Stuart: I’ve also set up a forward that takes the document’s details and automatically uploads them into Evernote to enable an extremely easy searching of all the receipts via another mechanism and it also provides a backup too – just in case.
I’ve also been able to set up email rules on my mail account to automatically send monthly invoices from my online subscriptions straight into Shoeboxed.
And I have to give special mention to the free magic blue envelopes.
Shoeboxed: Given you’re in technology, did you have any concerns using the cloud to store financial data?
Stuart: A privacy and security discussion could go on forever and it’s something I’m really aware of, so I read a lot of Shoeboxed’s documentation. I wanted to make sure they were doing the right due diligence and not just taking anyone off the street (here or overseas) who could have criminal records. I found out that the scanning is actually done in Australia by staff who’ve had criminal record and background checks done.
I was happy that they have put mechanisms into place to protect against any possible sharing of identity information. It’s really about ensuring enough mechanisms have been put into place to protect the individual. I feel Shoeboxed has done that.
It’s funny though, when I shared on Facebook I was sending my private documents to Shoeboxed, everyone questioned privacy. I said “if someone wanted to get my mail they would go straight to my real mail box and that has no security whatsoever.”
I also asked them if they’d send that sort of info over email? They all said yes – which made me smile because emails are not a secure mechanism. And here they were doubting a service provider who has more privacy mechanisms in place.
When you give people that comparison they realise that Shoeboxed is in fact much safer.
Shoeboxed: So Stuart would you recommend Shoeboxed?
Stuart: Yes, absolutely. I have and I will continue to.
It really does live up to its name of “stick it in an envelope, put in a postbox and it appears in your account” the blue envelope is really a magic blue envelope.