Not broke, just disorganized with a disorganized income.
August 6, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I have trouble remembering to pay bills/bring stamps/find envelopes in a timely manner. But I don't like having my account auto-drafted. Is there anything do-it-yourself style that will send me an e-mail and I can click a button to approve a transaction to pay an amount specified by me to the company that needs paying (or something like that)?

I understand that setting Outlook to remind me of things would be a good idea...will do that just as soon as I install Microsoft Office... But seriously: Do I really have to log into 20 different sites on 8 different days of the month, or is there an easier way to do this?

And if it's important: The reason I don't like autodrafting is because my work is often seasonal or short term. I'm afraid I'll hit a "dry spell" in my work, the available balance will drop down to something too small, and things will start bouncing everywhichway before I notice if I don't exert some authority over how much gets paid & when.
posted by Ys to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Every company that sends me bills offers a "paperfree" option, where I get an e-mail every month reminding me to go to their website and authorize a direct payment from my bank account; this is exactly what you want, right? If you don't want the company to know your bank account number, you can charge the bill to your credit card.
posted by escabeche at 10:28 AM on August 6, 2010


Do you use internet banking? I pay all my bills directly from my bank account online, SO EASY. This is with TD Canada Trust, who don't charge extra for that sort of thing (some banks do).
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:33 AM on August 6, 2010


Can you get a new checking account into which you transfer/deposit EXACTLY how much you need for your bills and then do autopay from that?
posted by k8t at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2010


I get an email from everyone I pay with my bill included or, at least, a link to view the bill online. I then log into my bank account and use the bill pay option (ING Direct). I just keep the email unread until I pay it. This way I'm not giving my bank account information out to anyone, I decide when and how much to pay, and I'm only logging in to one website. A couple of the people I pay every month actually send the bill straight to ING (who tells me about it) so then I can see a few of them all in one place.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah definitely do it from the bill pay on your bank account, rather than from each individual company's website. You can just do it one day a month -- pick a day, and pay all your bills on that day. You'll probably hit some bills a couple days before they're due and a some bills just a couple days after you get the bill, that's fine, once a month should catch all the bills (also, you can ask most companies to move your billing date, I've done this to have my dates come up all around the same time, it was totally easy except the first month was a little wonky).

You just have to find a bank that does free bill pay - I believe most of them do now? Just look around.
posted by brainmouse at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2010


For the record, my bill pay will mail checks to anyone who doesn't accept online billing. I don't ever have to worry about writing checks anymore, even to little outfits that can't take me directly depositing funds to their account. I suspect most banks' bill pay services offer the same function, but again, I'm not positive (I have a Bank of America checking account). It's made my life so much easier.
posted by brainmouse at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The closest thing I know of to what you're actually asking is that if I forget to pay my AT&T bill, then AT&T will send me a text message reminder, and if I want to pay it right then, I just reply to the text with the word "total" and it will automatically draft my bank account for the "total" amount I owe.

I, too, would love to have that as a regular feature for all my bills. An email bill from the electric company, for instance, and contained within the email is a link. If I click the link, it automatically deducts the amount of the bill from my bank account. No logging on, no filling in amounts to be paid, etc. Yes, please!
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:59 AM on August 6, 2010


Bank of America Online Bill Pay will absolutely change your life. It is awesome. Say what you will about B of A, but their Online Banking is first class.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:02 AM on August 6, 2010


I like BoA bill pay, it is a very useful tool, but be aware that it can screw you if you are somewhat disorganized and come to rely on it to get stuff out on time. You still have to be somewhat on top of things, or bad stuff happens. Here are some things that have happened to me:

My online Ids (had one for personal and one for joint checking) were consolidated (they just decided to do it, I wasn't aware of the possible fallout) , at which point all of my low-balance/overdraft alerts were lost. My husband transferred some money to another savings acct, then the mortgage was paid out of the account and we were four figures overdrawn. I didn't know until I got a letter in the mail telling me.

Failed to deliver an ebill so I missed a payment on my phone bill. Very possibly this was the phone company's fault but there's no way to tell.

They held our mortgage for awhile (we didn't choose them) and they refuse to allow twice monthly mortgage payments online -- payments that are not the full billed amount get applied to principal, not mortgage, and there's no way to change that. We discovered this when we got a notice that we'd missed mortage payments.

Limit account transfers INTO BoA from outside the bank to $3000 twice a month, plus make you wait up to 5 days for them to go thru. A problem if you are trying to make a down payment on something.
posted by mneekadon at 11:59 AM on August 6, 2010


Mycheckfree.com does e-bills/online bill pay and isn't tied to a specific bank. Useful if you have multiple accounts you might want to pay from.
posted by bgrebs at 12:49 PM on August 6, 2010


Why not just use auto-draft and have the bills charged to your credit card instead of a direct payment from your bank account?

That way you only have to remember to pay *one* bill. The credit card bill.

You also have the added benefit of utilizing the credit card company's dispute resolution process in the event that a creditor overcharges you.
posted by zen_spider at 3:48 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you have a Mac? I use iCal for all sorts of reminders. Add a new event as a reminder to pay bills. Make it for whatever day you want and set it up to repeat each month. Give it an alarm to pop up a reminder message.

If it weren't for this, my plants would be dead. Very, very dead.
posted by 2oh1 at 5:21 PM on August 6, 2010


The credit card bill idea is a good one if you're really disciplined. Open a new card that is ONLY for bills. Have all of your bills automatically paid on the card. Then, you only have one bill to pay each month, and (even better!) it's easy to track your monthly expenses by looking at how much that one credit card bill is each month.
posted by 2oh1 at 5:24 PM on August 6, 2010


Hey guys, there's some great food for thought up on this wall. Am definitely going to look into some of the services named, starting with an inquiry with my credit union. Also, the dedicated credit card idea is not a bad one: It gets around the problem of not paying in full every month by keeping the contents set to "DUH, MUST PAY," rather than a mishmash of old doctors bills & such. Thanks :)
posted by Ys at 6:52 PM on August 6, 2010


What zen_spider said. Get as much charged to your credit card as you can so you only have to worry about that once a month and if it's wrong, you can contest it before it's taken from your real money.

Then what everyone else said--have them sent to your bank account and pay through online bill paying. And if you have a credit union that doesn't have it, get a real, gigantic, oppressive bank. Credit unions are great for a lot of things, but sometimes you just want to receive 0.000001% on your savings accounts and have your online bill paying be seamless and you use Chase and PNC. (If you're me.)
posted by oreofuchi at 12:30 AM on August 7, 2010


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