I’m going to let you in on a secret…
I hate paying bills. I really dislike the actual administration of making the payments. But it’s just me taking care of the money so it’s either pay the bill or get my electricity off. And I really like having hot showers. It’s
I moved out on my own at age 21 in the late 90s and there were no widespread means of auto-paying your bills. I would open my checkbook and my book of stamps every two weeks when I got paid and would sit down to pay bills. Not the way a 20-something wants to spend their time in the evening or on the weekend. Boy, was I grateful when you could start paying your bills online and, better yet, auto-pay became a reality!
I do know people (and they are not senior citizens!) who still pay their bills with cash and checks. Why make your finances any harder than they need to be? One of the biggest advantages to having auto-payment is that you don’t have to keep track of making payments – one less household chore to complete! I mean, we have busy lives and the last thing I need is one more task to add to my mental load. There have been countless times I have been grateful for auto-pay, knowing that the bills are being paid and I am not having to worry about due date.
In some instances, you can receive discounts for using auto-payment. For example, when I was paying off my student loans, the loan servicer offered me a 0.25% discount on my interest rate if I used auto-pay for my monthly payments. In addition, if I made 24 consecutive payments on time, I would receive another 0.25%. Using auto-pay not only made sure that my student loan payments were made on time but it also saved me interest expense as well!
Even when you have your bills on auto-pay, there are still some best practices that I have learned over the years. The first is to use the bank account number option over the debit card option (I don’t use credit cards at all). Why do I choose this option? Think how many times in the past five to ten years you have had to get new debit cards with new numbers due to a security breach at a major retailer or because your card or card number was stolen. It is such a hassle to remember which card(s) were used for your payments and having to go into each payee to change your card number. I know I had a few bills with late payments due to this issue. I didn’t realize I had put auto-payments on the card.
The other best practice I can suggest is that you still need to review your bank account and your bills. When you sign up for auto-pay, be sure to monitor your bank account to make sure that the first payment goes through. You also want to review your bills to make sure that you are being charged the amount you are expecting. There have been more than a few times where I have caught billing errors in my statements. It also helps you to monitor where and how you are spending your money.
Auto-pay can be a wonderful tool to manage your finances. However, you need to remember that you are the one who is ultimately responsible for making sure that the bills are being paid. With just a few minutes of review each month, you can save time and money with auto-pay.