Smart bill paying tips for online families

Back in the analogue days before personal computers, the internet and smartphones, it was paying monthly bills! Bills arrived in the mail and were collected at a specific location and saved for that special day each month on which they were paid. The bills were reviewed to ensure all expected records had arrived and each check was printed with a corresponding record added to the (paper) check register. It was a manual exercise that required good organization, basic math skills, and concentration to ensure that the accounts were logged properly. Sending checks and tracking them in the registry was not the end of the process – it was imperative to examine the monthly bank statement and balance the checkbook to make sure there were no math errors, the checks were not lost in the mail, they were actually redeemed by the creditor and credited correctly to the account. Because there was always a delay between the overdue bills and the bank statement arriving, it was sometimes difficult to avoid unpleasantness, such as paying bills. The electricity or telephone company threatened to turn off service due to a performance failure or delay of the post office.

Since that time, things have changed dramatically. First was the introduction of financial software that could help with monthly budgeting and billing. Computerization increased the organization and cut down math errors, making it easier to keep track of monthly commitments. Today’s consumer has a wealth of tools available to pay bills, track accounts and keep their personal finances organized. Instead of a shoebox full of paper and a checkbook, bills can be paid with a computer or smartphone connected to the Internet. Payments made either through a checking account or a credit card can be monitored almost in real time. Even the role of the post office has diminished significantly due to changes in the bill payment bill. Many people use automatic billing options that are available directly from providers like the telephone company or insurance company as well as from many banks. Consumers may still have a checkbook in their possession, but for the most part, it collects dust on a shelf or in a drawer while bills are paid in a number of other ways.

Automatic bill payments are the most convenient of all, with options to pay each vendor directly from a bank account or credit card. Auto payment is great for convenience and flexibility, but the responsibility still lies with each consumer to ensure that the process works as expected and to maintain control of their finances. What are some things you need to be aware of with automatic bill pay, and what are some tips for keeping track of your budget while still taking advantage of the available automation?

  • Choose the payment method that works for you: Many people find it more convenient to set up their auto payment on a credit card instead of having the money deducted immediately from their checking accounts. That way, monthly bills appear together in one place, and there is less worry about cash flow during the month. And with credit card accounts available online, the balance can be monitored as needed. Many credit cards can offer consumer benefits such as Frequent fly miles, free merchandise and other perks. Using a credit card as a payment method is good for the organization, but be careful !! Accrued charges on a credit card make it easy to exceed your budget and get in trouble at the end of the month. Use this method only if you are willing to pay the balance on your credit card each month to avoid paying high financing costs on your regular monthly expenses. If you have a very tight budget or have trouble limiting credit card spending, paying bills directly from your checking account is a better solution.
  • Be prepared for changes: When you use a credit card to pay most monthly bills if your credit card is stolen or hacked or when it expires and a new card is issued, please note that any automatic payments you make using this short, no longer processed. Keep a list of accounts that use automatic payment, including the credit card used as the payment method for each account. This way, you can quickly update them all when a new credit card is received. If you’re tempted to just check your latest statement instead of keeping a list, keep in mind – some bills come monthly, others are quarterly and still others are annual, so they don’t all appear on your most recent statement. Keeping a list is the most effective way to easily update all current accounts.
  • Get involved in the process: Many banks help with the process and give alerts when an expected bill arrives or doesn’t arrive when scheduled – bill payment is a great feature of online banking and can help you keep up with your obligations! Make time to review the bills each month to make sure there are no unforeseen or erroneous charges; Especially if you have a tight budget and pay directly from your bank account. Unexpected fees automatically deducted from your account can cause unexpected drops in your bank balance.
  • Be smart when it comes to cash management: If possible, do not set up automatic payment for bills that can vary greatly from month to month, e.g. Credit card bills. And always avoid paying the balance on one credit card by adding it to the balance of another.
  • Keep your credit rating in good standing: Due dates for items such as credit cards, health insurance, mortgage payments and auto payments typically fall due on the same day each month, making it easy to ensure that automatic payment bills arrive on time. However, the due date on some bills may vary. Make sure the payment date you set up for each bill gives the creditor enough time to process the payment to avoid late fees. Similarly, if you use your bank’s billing payment service, for some vendors there is a delay between the paid date and the received date – Make sure you give yourself enough time to stave off late fees and avoid bad credit.

The most important concept to remember is that although paying bills has become extremely convenient and paper cuts are much less common these days in the bill of payment, you are still ultimately responsible for your finances, your bills and your credit rating. Carefully monitor, take advantage of the online tools available from your bank and creditors to help you keep track of your finances and remember to abolish this checkbook once in a while! Whichever method you choose to pay bills, it is strongly recommended that you keep a continuous record of all checks and debits, where you immediately deduct each item (as soon as you have issued or approved an item for payment), including any associated fees. This allows you to have an accurate up-to-the-minute checking account balance from which to work. This will also help prevent deposits of insufficient funds and their associated fees. Accurate and timely account entries never go out of style!