mom busy Family Finance and Budget By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA – Automatic Bill Payment Services can be a Win Win

For years I have shied away from automatic bill payment services.  While my decision left me in control of my money, or so I thought, I’ve come to realize that I have not benefited from my desired control.  Why?  Because life happens and it happens every month or every other month.  Homework, school projects, dinner, laundry, unexpected trips to the store, these are some of the many things that threw curveballs into my daily and nightly plans.  Now while life didn’t lead me to spend money that I owed to others, I sure have paid my share of late fees simply because when I remembered to submit my payments it was on the due dates – and sometimes right before bedtime.

Sadly, that was often too late as most companies require that payments made over the phone be paid before 5 pm in order to be applied on the same business day.   So here is my spill on automatic bill payment services and why you should consider it.

The Service is Free

Most banks offer automatic bill payment services to existing customers free of charge with direct deposit.   You can send a payment to anyone including credit card companies, insurance companies, medical facilities or even a person.  Also, if it’s a recurring bill, you can choose to send the same amount each month on a set date or you can go in each month, enter the amount that you want to pay. With the latter, you just have to remember to do it.

You can also arrange, free of charge, through the websites of many businesses to have your payment automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month. You can set this as a recurring event so that you don’t have to log into each account to make your payment each month.

Keep in mind, which ever method you choose, you should still monitor your bank accounts as you normally would and maintain a written budget so that you always know how much money you should have and to ensure that nothing is causing your account to be overdrawn.

Avoid Late Fees and Stay on Budget

I think the minimum amount I’ve been charged as a late fee has been $15.  That is $15 less in disposable income that I could use to treat myself or add to my children’s college savings plan.  Automatic bill payment services help users to avoid late fees.  In addition to avoiding late fees, automatic bill payment forces discipline on those who are easily swayed by sales advertisements, dining out and the many other things that can easily turn a home’s budget upside down.

Reduce Life’s Stressors

Lastly, on many days when I submitted my payment on the due date via telephone services, I was worried about whether my payment would post the next business day or later which would cause me to be un-enrolled in budget payment plans.   That is truly avoidable.

Now my reluctance to let my bank take the wheel has been replaced by total appreciation, support and advocacy of automatic bill payment services.  What I thought I was saving by holding on to my money, I was spending in late fees or expedited payments fees because the events of my busy life caused me to run too close to the payment dues dates.  If you aren’t using an automatic bill payment service and you can relate to my situation, stop trying to rationalize not doing it and save yourself some time and money by enrolling today.  Spend your new found time playing with your children or catching up on your sleep.

 

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA is a seasoned freelance writer specializing in personal finance. Based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.

More Family Finance:

http://extension.usu.edu/utah/htm/family-finance

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/healthy-families/family-finances

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Money/Personal-Finance.shtml
Michelle Sharrow

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