“Bills and Pills; Bills and Pills,” to quote Disney’s Pollyanna. No one likes them! But they are just some of life’s necessary evils. While I can’t give you a pain-free experience when paying your bills, I can help you make the actual mechanisms of paying bills a breeze and sometimes, that’s half the battle.
In this wonderful world of technology, we have three great tools available to us to manage bill time. However in most cases, they are categorically under used! Below, we’ll discuss some tools in the toolbox of bill paying that you can use to make the process easier. We’ll also address their pros and cons so you can decide which are right for you. Having a system, no matter what you choose, is the most important thing you can do to make your life easier.
Tool #1- Auto Pay
Pros – Set it once and forget it! Often the vendor itself will have an auto-pay option on their website. You simply enter the amount you want to pay, your bank routing information, and date of debit. It’s that simple. Your bills will be automatically debited each month.
Cons – If you run into some cash flow issues, you have to be sure to go in and change or cancel the debit date within the allotted period they allow you to change it, OR you will overdraft your bank account. If you have irregular pay dates, this may not be a good option for you.
Hints – You can set your payment within the grace period even if it is after the due date without needing to request a payment date change. It’s usually 10 days, but don’t assume! Make sure you check that you’re not accruing late fees or bad pay history by over-staying your grace date. Also, vendors typically allow one due date change per account history. So if you know the due date won’t work for you, change the date. But choose wisely – typically you get only one shot!
Tool #2- Online Bill Pay
Pros – This system is typically offered through your bank. However, some vendors offer the one-time pay option as well on their websites. Done right, you can spend an hour or so once a month, and set up the dates that you want the vendors to debit your account for that month’s bills. This is a great system for those with irregular pay dates. That’s because you have more control and insight into your budget and cash flow for that month!
Cons – You have to invest time monthly to set up these payments.
Tool #3 – Banking Apps
Pros – This is basically the mobile version of #2, but many people don’t remember to use the apps for their bank. You can generally do all the things on your app that you can do on their website. Banking apps are designed to be more user-friendly. The mobile banking app is convenient because you can utilize it while on-the-go. So if you’re a multi-tasker (think waiting rooms, soccer practice, etc.), this is a great tool!
Cons – If you lose your phone or it’s stolen, someone else could gain access to your banking info. These days though, our phones are an extension of our wallets and we all know to treat it as such! Just be sure to include security measures as you would for any other private information (password protection, lost phone locator apps, etc.).
With a little planning each month, your bill paying nightmares can be a dream! Don’t delay! Get a system to manage bill time in place today.