Just about every large and mid-size bank offers a way for you to pay your bills online. With most (if not all) banks that offer this service, it comes free with a checking account. We currently use the “online bill-pay” service with Bank of America, but I know that many other banks (including Capital One and Wells Fargo) offer similar features.
I can’t imagine trying to manage our finances if everything were done manually. As I’ve said in the past, we are making sacrifices to pay off debt, and part of our motivation to become debt free is to simplify our finances. We have a number of creditors and merchants that need to be paid each month (utilities, credit cards, student loan repayments, and even a car loan) – there would be so much additional frustration if we were trying to track and pay each one manually.
Here are some of the benefits that we enjoy from using an online bill-pay service:
- Most of the banks and vendors that we deal with are already listed in our bank’s payment system. That has lead to several advantages for us:
- We can avoid errors in entering the merchant’s information and address
- We save time when we have to set up a new payee
- If our vendor is not listed in the bank’s database, we can immediately add them, and the information will be saved for future use
- We can add individuals and local businesses
- We’ve used this service to send money to people for various reasons. It was much easier than mailing a check or trying to convince them to sign up for PayPal
- You can add local businesses as easily as you can with individuals. So even if you were to take out an instant payday loan, you could enter the loan provider as a vender and have them paid back immediately
- The bank just mails out a physical check if the vender isn’t set up to receive electronic payments – the money is deducted from your available balance either when the payment is mailed out or on the “due date” that we specified
- We have used this feature to pay our rent, church offerings, charitable contributions and even when paying someone back for picking up the tab at lunch
- We don’t have to worry about late payment or processing fees (for making payments over the phone, or sending a check overnight)!
- We set up automatic payments for certain recurring expenses (rent/mortgage, car note, cell phone, etc) weeks or months in the future
- We also can set up payments for non-recurring charges (annual/semi-annual insurance premiums, Auto Club renewal, etc), so they don’t come up as a surprise when we get the renewal email
It’s great because we no longer have to wait for a check to clear or a merchant to withdraw a payment before the amount is deducted from our available balance. We have a much better handle on our finances since we can see all of the upcoming payments, recent payments, and due dates (in case we need to move some things around) in one place.
Online Bill-pay is one of the first and easiest steps you can take to help get your (financial) house in order. It is free – and if your bank wants to charge you, it’s time to find a new bank – and it will actually save you money (from avoiding late payment and processing fees down to stamps, checks and envelopes). So, what are you waiting for?
If you are already using Bill-pay, please comment below and share different ways that you have used Bill-pay to take control of your finances.
© 2012, Khaleef “Fat Guy” Crumbley. All rights reserved.