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Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:02 AM   #1
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Best Way to Pay Bills?

I have a conundrum about the best way to pay bills. DW has paid the bills since we were married, and now wants me to take over. Since I am more anal than her, I have no problem with it.

However, she is still doing the "old" bank statement, checks with carbon copies way like the old days. I got our accounts online, and am looking at billpay. However, my bank doesn't seem very speedy as to when they send them out............they keep telling me to give them 4-6 business days to process the transaction.

I have considered setting up each bill online with the vendor direct, so the money will be ETF'd same day or next day, but don't want 15 passwords to remember.

How do you guys do it? Any help is of course appreciated.............
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:10 AM   #2
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I have a combination of automatic withdrawals (mortgage, utilities, car payment) and otherwise use my bank's electronic bill-pay program.

I write one paper check a month, and that's to a small business owner who hasn't set up electronic banking yet.

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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:14 AM   #3
 
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I use a credit card for Everything and pay it off via a on-line transfer once a month.

For all recurring bills like utilities, property taxes I have automatic withdrawals set-up on a checking account. I don't even have to think about it anymore.

I basically pay 1 bill a month - The credit card via an on-line transfer. - No paper, no stamps, no check writing.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:19 AM   #4
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I use a credit card for Everything and pay it off via a on-line transfer once a month.

For all recurring bills like utilities, property taxes I have automatic withdrawals set-up on a checking account. I don't even have to think about it anymore.

I basically pay 1 bill a month - The credit card via an on-line transfer. - No paper, no stamps, no check writing.
So, it's the KISS method......... How about getting an AMEX card and doing what you suggest, because they give you a nice summation yearly on all your charges??
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:30 AM   #5
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

My spouse used to pay the bills as well. I now do it.
We use free online bill pay associated with our checking account. Sure you need 4-6 days advance notice, but even if you mailed your check you would send 4-6 days ahead of the due date anyways.

We have 2 bills on autopay: the mortgage and the 0% car loan. The other 6 bills are paid when the bill comes in the mail:
1. Receive bill in mail.
2. Login to online bill pay and pay bill with "send date" ahead of "due date".
3. Tear paper bill a small amount to indicate it has been paid. If you don't indicate somehow that bill has been paid, you may come across it again during the course of the week and try to pay it again. Tearing the bill is easier than filing it away or writing on it.

I do not use the separate vendors bill pay online stuff.

I have used the online bill pay of 3 different banks. They are all about the same.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:34 AM   #6
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
My spouse used to pay the bills as well. I now do it.
We use free online bill pay associated with our checking account. Sure you need 4-6 days advance notice, but even if you mailed your check you would send 4-6 days ahead of the due date anyways.

We have 2 bills on autopay: the mortgage and the 0% car loan. The other 6 bills are paid when the bill comes in the mail:
1. Receive bill in mail.
2. Login to online bill pay and pay bill with "send date" ahead of "due date".
3. Tear paper bill a small amount to indicate it has been paid. If you don't indicate somehow that bill has been paid, you may come across it again during the course of the week and try to pay it again. Tearing the bill is easier than filing it away or writing on it.

I do not use the separate vendors bill pay online stuff.

I have used the online bill pay of 3 different banks. They are all about the same.
I like your idea...........
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:38 AM   #7
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
However, my bank doesn't seem very speedy as to when they send them out............they keep telling me to give them 4-6 business days to process the transaction.
I think that's CYA legalese. Fidelity promises to reimburse any vendor's late-payment fees only if Fido has a five-day processing time, but during business hours they'll also send out an EFT about 10 seconds after I click the "Send Payment" button.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
How do you guys do it? Any help is of course appreciated.............
Well, first I'd read this thread, and then I'd consider Fidelity. Never had a problem over the last five years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I use a credit card for Everything and pay it off via a on-line transfer once a month.
For all recurring bills like utilities, property taxes I have automatic withdrawals set-up on a checking account. I don't even have to think about it anymore.
Pretty much the same system here, although I write a few checks for govt departments (like the City & County of Honolulu property tax) who haven't entered this millenium yet. Most of the utility bills are on auto-deduct EFTs although I don't trust the phone company. Our mortgages are held by the same credit union that has our checking so they're auto-deducted a few days after my pension deposit. I'd link it all to a credit card for the extra 1.5% rebate (thus earning about $30/year) but I'm sure that the day after I did so my card would be stolen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
How about getting an AMEX card and doing what you suggest, because they give you a nice summation yearly on all your charges??
I've never used anyone's "nice summations", although I have several of them in a box of tax returns. If I have a question like "When did we buy this piece of crap?!?" it's usually in Quicken, and I find the receipt in the monthly receipt stash instead of the annual summary.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:41 AM   #8
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Did MSMoney's on-line service (Check-free) for years. The bank now offers a free on-line service and started charging $5.95 / mo to deal with check-free. Sooooo I switched to the "free" service. Still "download" into MS Money - for free - for tracking purposes (and taxes).

Can't remember the last time I wrote a check.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 10:47 AM   #9
 
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
So, it's the KISS method......... How about getting an AMEX card and doing what you suggest, because they give you a nice summation yearly on all your charges??
My VISA card also gives a yearly summation, but I prefer my own in Quicken. I dowload the Visa transactions and they are automatically categorized if repeats, if not I add the category.

Again, I have 1 bill a month and don't even have to think about the others.

I use the KISS method whenever possible.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:01 AM   #10
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I've got everything set to auto pay. Only annoyance is that costco AMEX doesn't allow autopay, so I have to log into the AMEX site when I get the paper bill and send them a payment.

As far as passwords, you need to figure out some sort of way to remember lots of passwords because it's just necessary these days regardless of how you pay bills. The days when you could be secure using the same password for everything are over.

I don't trust any "password manager" programs so I store my passwords in my palm database (others use spreadsheets). I am paranoid that if I put my passwords into one of those "password manager" programs the company will stop supporting it, or they will make some security mistake.

I have basically three different password "patterns" that I use:

One for sites that don't have any important information on me, like web forums.
Another for sites that have minor info on me like a credit card number.
And the most secure for sites that have my financial accounts like brokerage.

I have three different usernames for those different levels of security as well.

Those password patterns are combinations of numbers and letters with slots where I put in certain letters of the site URL. For instance a simplified version might be:

Use password 123[third letter of site URL][second letter of site URL]ab4
so my password for yahoo would be 123ohab4 and so forth. I find that most sites (except emigrantdirect) will work if the password has numbers at the beginning and end, and is 8 characters long.

And I don't write the password patterns down anywhere in plaintext, but rather write in a coded way based on things I know. For instance if my password was two numbers I might write:
[fourth digit of my mother's birth town zip code][last digit of year of birth of my nephew Josh]

That way even if someone found my password patterns they wouldn't be able to use them unless they did a lot of research on me.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:05 AM   #11
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I have used several bank billpay systems and by far the best is my credit unions....doesnt deduct the money until the payment clears and gives me an indication when the payment cleared....most others debit it right away and dont do this...

Also, can schedule payments to go for the next day...so no wait....Also, mbna credit cards had a nice feature for billpay, but with the boa merger, it might go away....you could pay other cc's, insurance, and several others
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:12 AM   #12
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I use billpay from my credit union. It's setup so the bills go out once a month and I just change the amount owed. For the ETF bills, I can cut it close.

I don't trust auto-debit features offered by creditors. I was cleaned out once and it was a mess. They apologized and paid the fees (overdraft, late fees for other bills, etc.) but it was a hassle.

For password storing, I use Password Safe. http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:16 AM   #13
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Is Fidelity going to give me an ATM card?
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:20 AM   #14
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I have used both the "bill payer" systems and the actual vendor (like the Gas or Electric Company). Actually I like the vendor setups much better as you will never get a late payment charge (as long as the ACH transaction finds enough funds in the account). Additionally, I have a set up whereby the Credit Union will actually pay any charges even if there is not enough funds in the account (they call it something like "overpayment protection") and it has never been needed, thus far. I have one vendor that actually puts the payment on one of my Credit Cards. I would have liked to have them all do that since I get a cash rebate on that card. Most vendors require a bank/cu account for which they can use the ACH system however. Some of the "free" bill payer systems require a set amount of monthly or quarterly transactions to remain "free". These systems are great as they save about $.39 per tansaction(10 payments per month, 12 months, saves enough for about $50 worth of beer), virtually will never be late, and most provide an online history of at least recently paid transactions.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:29 AM   #15
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I pay all bills online thru my checking account. Most are drawn out automatically on the last day that is allowed. Works well. Never had a payment missed or late. Never had a charge for late payment. Been doing it this way for 20 years or so.

I hand-wrote a total of 6 checks last year from my checking account. I hope to get down to 4 this year. Zero is my ultimate goal. Wish me luck!

I am still using checks that have in the date line "______, 19___." Believe it or not when I write over the 19 with a 2006, my check has never been rejected. I think I have another 25 checks to go before I will have to order more. By that time paper checks may be obsolete.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 11:40 AM   #16
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

I use e-trade bank. Electronic bills are 3 days and they will cut a paper check for those that won't/can't accept electronic (5 days). Can set up automatic or pay as you go. I I like the RSA security feature they offer.

I was getting the bill pay free by keeping 5K in mm account but their rates have dropped so I just keep 1K min in checking (xfer from GMAC bank) to keep the service free. (OK I lose a little on interest on 1K)
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 01:41 PM   #17
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eridanus
I don't trust auto-debit features offered by creditors. I was cleaned out once and it was a mess. They apologized and paid the fees (overdraft, late fees for other bills, etc.) but it was a hassle.
I am with Eridanus. I don't like giving companies access to my checking account. I would rather have creditors chase after me than the other way around. Also, DW's cash flow is eratic and at times there is a lot of money in checking. The thought of some company I thought I could trust being a fly-by-night outfit makes me too nervous.

I use the bank's free online checking but there are still a lot of checks to cut. With the odd "one-offs" (e.g. some medical specialist I won't likely have to pay again) it doesn't seem worth the effort to set up an account in the bank bill paying system -- in those cases I always call to see if I can use a CC over the phone.
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 02:08 PM   #18
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Vanguard has a program that's free for flagship members. It provides free checking, on line bill pay and debit cards. I sent in my paper work yesterday to start using this program.

Has anyone here used this program?
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 02:09 PM   #19
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 73ss454
Vanguard has a program that's free for flagship members. It provides free checking, on line bill pay and debit cards. I sent in my paper work yesterday to start using this program.

Has anyone here used this program?
What's it take to be flagship?
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?
Old 10-19-2006, 02:38 PM   #20
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Re: Best Way to Pay Bills?

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