Automatic Bill Payment – It Can Be Good And Bad
Do you pay your bills by mail, in person, online, automatically, or a combination of all four? I do a combination of all four, although the majority of my bills are paid online. It's a convenience and a time-saver for me.
I still prefer to pay a few local bills in person, like my mortgage, and a couple I will still affix a stamp on it and send out through the United States Postal Service. After all, I have a brother who works for the USPS, and I support him and all hard-working postal employees.
Some of my bills are paid automatically. A couple is for yearly magazine subscriptions that I forget about until the payment shows up in my checking account. According to an article in Reader's Digest (yes, I subscribe), they mention six bills that you shouldn't pay via auto-pay.
One of those includes what I just mentioned - annual subscriptions and auto-renewals. Guess what? My Reader's Digest subscription is an auto-renewal. I understand what they are getting at though. And to their credit, they notify me well in advance that my annual subscription payment is coming up.
If you don't keep your financial records up to date or are aware of your balance, that could become a problem. When that annual subscription comes due, if your balance is too low to cover, you will end up with a negative amount, and those overdrawn fees can sting.
Other bills Reader's Digest suggest you don't put on auto-renewal include utility and cable bills, memberships, and credit card bills. Utility and cable bill amounts can change from month to month and if you don't have enough in your account to cover a higher-than-normal monthly bill, you could overdraw on your bank or credit card account.
Basically, it's not a bad thing to have your bills paid automatically if you pay attention to the amounts in advance and make sure the account that you use to pay these bills has enough to cover the amount. For some people, that's easier said than done.