With the advent of the internet, many companies now allow you to pay your bills online. To go one step further, some banks and companies even allow you to setup automatic payments that are made without any effort on your part. This has many obvious benefits, with the most significant being the time involved in writing a check and paying 42 cents for postage.
As with anything, there are also some potential drawbacks. Submitting more information via the web opens you up to a higher possibility of identity theft. Granted, if you practice safe online procedures, this isn’t much of a concern, but online hackers and phishers are always looking for new ways to snag your data. The other possible drawback is that it can make people lazy when it comes to keeping track of expenses. If someone isn’t good about balancing their checkbook or keeping tabs on when all of the automatic payments come out, it can be harder to grasp all of the outflows of money.
That being said, we try to pay most of our bills online. Most of the big expenses such as the mortgage, car insurance, auto loan, and student loan payments are automatic and we don’t even have to think about it. But when it comes to bills that can fluctuate from month to month such as utilities, we tend to pay online, but manually so we can review the charges and make sure there are no mistakes before payment is sent. And of course, there are a few bills that simply don’t accept online payments, like our sewer, which requires the traditional paper check.
So, how about you? How do you prefer to make payments, and why?
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Online is the way to go these days! I literally found ways to pay everything...Major banks all have bill pay feature now and I just figured out how to pay my mortgage through Chargesmart.com and my taxes through Officialpayments.com
Everything I can pay for automatically is done so. Everything else is via the bank's online bill pay.
I pay some bills online, and some with a check. For some I don't want them to have direct access to my bank accounts in case there is a dispute, or something along those lines. I've heard horror stories of credit card companies just withdrawing money from people's accounts, and then saying the people authorized it. Scary stuff I want to avoid.
We try to pay most of our bills (90%) on line but there are a couple things we write prefer to use a paper check for like tithes for church.
We even pay our rent with automatic bill pay online. We just set it up to go out the last day of the month, and the landlord usually has it in a day or two (we've ok'd it with them that they won't have it exactly on the 1st each month).
Online 100% ... its the only way to go for me!
Nothing beats the smug satisfaction of having virtually everything on automatic payment. :D
I try to avoid paper checks, but for some bills that is my only option. My preference is an autopayment plan, followed by manual online payments, followed by paper checks that must be mailed in.
Until this past Saturday, I had never written a cheque. Ever. I had to write a cheque to my condo corporation for use of the service elevator. It was my first time. I had to call my Mom to find out how to fill it out.
For the most part, I don't even write checks. I think I've written a total of 4 checks in the past year. For most billers that don't accept online payments (such as an apartment manager), you can just use you bank's billpay feature to send a physical check to the person.