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Thread: What method do you use to pay your bills?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What method do you use to pay your bills?

    In an effort to simplify our lives, the wife and I have decided to change up how we pay our bills. In the past, we either sent a check or went onto our bank’s website and sent the money once we had it. However, it took time away from important things like spending time with family, friends, or enjoying life.

    So we are going automated. We set up a second account and will set up direct bill pay from that account to the companies that we have consistent bills (mortgage, cell phone, internet daycare, and student loans) and even got on billing programs for our gas and electric so they will be the same every month. Once we figured out what the total is, we then set it up so a portion of each check is direct deposited into that account so we don’t need to worry about it.

    Best part is we have it in a separate account, so our regular day to day spending will not have any impact on it, and it gives us a better understanding and control on where our money goes, instead of wondering where it went.

    How do you pay your bills? Do you use the technology available or do you write out a check?
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Call me old fashion - paper check and snail mail.
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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I do checks except for the Y membership.
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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Our bills are 90% automated payment, and I get all of my billing statements as PDFs. Cuts down on paper and helps me avoid an accidental late payment.

    The only bill that is not automated is our one credit card. That is mainly because I have been a past victim of credit card theft/fraud and like to check every single transaction before paying.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  5. #5
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    All of our bills are auto pay. Even the garbage service.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    My wife is the bill-payer so I'm not sure of the exact % breakdown. But we do a combo of automatic pay and online payments we do manually.

    m'skis - I'm curious how much time you spend paying bills that you consider it as taking away from family time, etc. Even doing all of them manually online, I can't imagine my wife would spend more than 30 minutes a week paying bills. That's a fairly small amount, consider the importance of paying your bills.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I put as many bills as I can on my credit card and pay that off. This way I get points towards flights. At one time I used to incorporate my lunchtime walks with paying bills, stopping off at the HQ for the electric, gas, telephone, and water companies. I liked those days the best, but many no longer have a drop off feature and require you to wait in line with the deadbeats who are there to get thier utlities turned back on!

    I probably do write more bills for things than your average person. I recently needed to get a new mortgage as I had to give my old house to charity and move due to the deterioration of the neighborhood (got broken into 3 times, the house to the south burned down, and the house to the north got its windows stolen, all in one MONTH!). After looking at options, I found that my best one would be to finance it out of the family trust. This way, the parents get 8 times the interest they would have gotten and I had zero mortgage costs above what I paid the lawyer to draw up the contract. I make a trip to the consolidated credit union and thake money out of my account and have them put it into the trust every month. Basically its a win-win for the family and the banks get screwed. Since there is a mortgage and a payment schedule I get to deduct the interest, sure my parents pay taxes on thier end, but they get to net about six times that they would over the normal bank interest. Heck even if I die its easier for them to get thier hands on the property as they hold the lien and if they die its easier for me to get the loan forgiven.

    I agree with Btrage, you are not going to save a significant amount of time. Either method you can do your bills while watching TV unless you are driving around to 20 different places to save the cost of a stamp. If you pay 20 different monthly bills you're doing it wrong. Drop those department store cards consolidate them all onto a visa, mc, or amex.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Almost completely automatic. Anything that is taken regularly is set up. The money get direct deposited and is taken out. We use what is left. I have used Autopay for many years some more than 20 years ago and as more bills could be paid that way we set them up. It just cuts down on the argueing and fighting about what gets paid when and has made our credit great.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I agree with Btrage, you are not going to save a significant amount of time. Either method you can do your bills while watching TV unless you are driving around to 20 different places to save the cost of a stamp. If you pay 20 different monthly bills you're doing it wrong. Drop those department store cards consolidate them all onto a visa, mc, or amex.
    I spend about 1/2 hour a week and in the past, some where mailed, some were delivered (daycare) some were paid on my bank's website and others were on the other companies website. I am the first to admit that I am a numbers geek. I run spreadsheets on each bill, weekly budgets, monthly budgets, and graphs. I like numbers. I hate to quote Ronco (who did not graduate from college) but this new method, set it and forget it. Since everything will be the same over the course of a year, my numbers don't change all that much. It is not much, but given that statistics say that most working parents only give their kids 19 minutes a day... every minute matters to me.

    As for the credit card... I am anti credit card, so that is never an option for me.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I use automatic transfers from checking to pay bills. I have a hard time with the Time Warner cable bill; every time I set up auto-pay, it doesn't "take" for some reason, and months later I'll get a disconnection notice and a massive bill. Yesterday was the third time it happened. Surprisingly, there's never problem with auto-pay for the cable bill I pay for my Dad.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I spend about 1/2 hour a week and in the past, some where mailed, some were delivered (daycare) some were paid on my bank's website and others were on the other companies website. I am the first to admit that I am a numbers geek. I run spreadsheets on each bill, weekly budgets, monthly budgets, and graphs. I like numbers. I hate to quote Ronco (who did not graduate from college) but this new method, set it and forget it. Since everything will be the same over the course of a year, my numbers don't change all that much. It is not much, but given that statistics say that most working parents only give their kids 19 minutes a day... every minute matters to me.

    As for the credit card... I am anti credit card, so that is never an option for me.
    Good for you. Have the credit work in your favor, not the other way around! I understand how you can get worked up over planning and budgeting, my sister is a financial planner. She is also very type A. I constantly have to remind her that while its good to have a good hold on your budget, trying so hard to keep it in place may not be worth the added stress. I figure if I can look at the bank account at the end of given time-cycle and there is more money in it than at the beginning, then thats a good year, month, pay peroid.... Its important to keep that above .750!

    It sounds like your doing those graphs and charting as a liesure activity and count that as such and you will be happier and more content with your life.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I chiefly use the bill pay function through the bank's website. Since all the billing accounts have their information pre-populated it takes about 10 seconds to click "schedule & confirm". Only one bill of mine comes out via autopay since it's a small amount. I would do more autopay as I have done in the past when I had a fixed pay date (1st & 15th), but since I get paid every two weeks that can throw things off a little and doesn't always match up with due dates and such. I rarely mail a check for anything anymore.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I still use paper checks and snail mail for utility and credit card payments. I like to review the bills before I pay them... I would NEVER auto-pay a credit card. Also, since I don't get a regular paycheck, I have to carefully monitor our checking account balance, and that's far easier to do when you are writing out checks and entering the amounts in an account register.

    I do use auto-pay for our car payment, though, and since our mortgage is with the same credit union where we have our accounts, mortgage payments are automatically deducted from our savings (apparently, federal regulations limit one's ability to make payments online through a savings account).

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    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I use electronic transfers for everything except my dry cleaning bill. I have to write them a check. See, the dry cleaner picks up and delivers the to my office. At the end of the month, they send me a bill. If they were on-line, I'd use the electronic transfer method with them.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    I use electronic transfers for everything except my dry cleaning bill. I have to write them a check. See, the dry cleaner picks up and delivers the to my office. At the end of the month, they send me a bill. If they were on-line, I'd use the electronic transfer method with them.
    Can you enter the dry cleaner's info into the pay bills section of your bank web page? I can, and do. If the bank can't transfer the payment, they draft a check and mail it.

    I pay everything that I can online. Except my cell phone; I make the payment from the phone.

  17. #17
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    No one will be very surprised when I say all bills are paid the old-fashioned way at my house. Frequently we'll get requests/offers from various businesses urging us to go with their auto-pay option. In such situations I'll hem and haw deliberately and say something like "Sir (or Madame), if your product is indeed of superior quality to that offered by Messrs. Sears & Roebuck, I shall purchase one of your xxxx forthwith. I assume you will allow me to make a draft upon my account at xxxx in payment? Your banker's cheque should arrive in the post within a fortnight."

  18. #18
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    No one will be very surprised when I say all bills are paid the old-fashioned way at my house. Frequently we'll get requests/offers from various businesses urging us to go with their auto-pay option. In such situations I'll hem and haw deliberately and say something like "Sir (or Madame), if your product is indeed of superior quality to that offered by Messrs. Sears & Roebuck, I shall purchase one of your xxxx forthwith. I assume you will allow me to make a draft upon my account at xxxx in payment? Your banker's cheque should arrive in the post within a fortnight."
    Do you pay the milk man with shillings too?

    Last night after a neighborhood meeting, I found out that we can setup an auto pay almost everything, including diapers, baby food, and coffee! The only things we will not be on auto pay is general day to day purchase stuff. I actually slept better last night knowing that I will not have to deal with the bills anymore. It will be comparable to an automated accountant!

    I will still look at the utility bills (heat & electric), graph them, and figure out ways to reduce my energy consumption.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    I still use paper checks and snail mail for utility and credit card payments. I like to review the bills before I pay them... I would NEVER auto-pay a credit card. Also, since I don't get a regular paycheck, I have to carefully monitor our checking account balance, and that's far easier to do when you are writing out checks and entering the amounts in an account register.
    You can set autopay for a minimum amount of withdrawl. That way, you will never get caught paying a late fee. I have mine set at $100. I pay off the rest later. My typical bills I run through the card (phone, internet) add up to just under the $100. The one time I had charges under $100, they just took out what I had owed. If you don't feel comfotable with $100 set it for what you feel comfortable with. The key advantage is avoiding the late fee.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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