How to: Go Digital with Paperwork, Movies, and Music

After squeezing everything into out suitcases for our return to the US, Martin and I were instantly relieved that there were a couple of things we wouldn’t have to be lugging back and forth.  We began streamlining a couple of habits about a year ago to keep our back-and-forth lifestyle more organized.  Not only have these efforts made it easy for us to have access to everything we need, but they’ve also meant less clutter in our home and at times, fewer wasted resources.

To start, we quit buying cds. They cost a few dollars more than downloading music from iTunes or Amazon, which was a little redundant since we download all of our music onto iTunes anyway.  We imported all of the cds we already owned, and we haven’t looked back since.  A lot of people hesitate to download music – don’t!  If you back up your computer regularly, you won’t lose your music.  From personal experience, iTunes is quick to help you with any music you’ve paid for and lost.  Skipping cds meant we could also skip the cd players (not that those would be going into our suitcases!).  It was just one less thing we had to buy.


And once we were hooked on downloading music, we made the switch to getting dvds online, too.  I splurged and got Martin an Apple TV for his birthday last year, so all we have to do is plug this little box into a TV or computer, and we’ve got all of our favorite shows and movies.  It’s really easy when we go to a friend’s house, and we never have to worry about scratched disks again.  And if that weren’t enough reasons, dvds in the US and Europe run on different zones.  So a dvd from Germany wouldn’t even be compatible in the US.  I’m okay with buying two cookbooks – one for the US, and one for Germany, but not two copies of the same Star Trek Deep Space Nine.


As for books, we’ve been making some of those digital for a while, too.  Audiobooks are a traveler’s dream. They’re cheaper than English books in Germany, and they don’t take up space on your shelf when you’re done.  We’ve listened to stories together like Marley and Me and What We Eat on long flights and train rides.  Our fix comes from, and we know it’s working.  My bookshelf is nice and slim.


We are scanning maniacs.  Anything we might need gets scanned.  Anything we don’t want to haul gets scanned.  We know we can just print a page of our pdfs if we need to.  (We haven’t yet.)  We usually find that most of those papers we were so certain we’d need weren’t all that important after all.  Glad we discovered it digitally!


Finally we make sure every paper is in its place before we go so if we need something that wasn’t scanned like a receipt or warranty, it’s really easy to walk our families through our filing system from thousands of miles away.

So there you have them – a nice handful of the tricks we use to make our house functional wherever we may be.

Speaking of which… see you in Denver tomorrow!

(Images for Making This Home)