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Hands Off=Worry Free?
Old 05-02-2019, 01:56 PM   #1
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Hands Off=Worry Free?

A recent blog post from Mr Money Mustache got me thinking. The beginning of the post starts off explaining that most of his bills are on auto pay and he doesn't really pay too much attention to the amount (kinda my assumption) since the threat of depleting his stash is pretty minimal. What did get me thinking is the hands off approach of it.

I too have most of my bills on auto pay (to a credit card) and I don't sweat the amount. When it's hot outside, I run the AC at a temperature that *I* find comfortable, not what is comfortable for my bank account. Nonetheless, I still track my expenses very closely and know pretty much how much electricity I use on a daily basis. I can tell you how much energy is expended for the larger energy hogs and can even tell you the exact rates I will pay for a given month. So, although my bills are indeed "hands off" and I am generally "worry free" since I consider the race won I still pay pretty close attention to my spending. Barring a complete financial melt down of the US economy the would result in military pensions being turned off...I will most likely never be "broke".

So, what are your thoughts? Are you a hands off/worry free type, or on the other end of the spectrum? I think I am somewhere in the middle of it all.

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There have been a lot of big bills coming across my kitchen table recently. Property taxes, car registrations, income taxes, things for the school orchestra in which little MM plays the standup bass. Plus the usual credit card bills for all my spending on groceries and not-all-that-rare luxury indulgences. Thereís nothing bad or unexpected in this pile of bills, but I still see it adding up to a tidy sum.

But this morning as I was looking at the latest one Ė a bill from the City of Longmont for all the various utilities, I noticed that the same familiar feeling crept across my chest that I had felt for all of these other expenses: a feeling of warmth and reassurance.

The utility bill had a little note on it that said ďDONíT PAY Ė account is being paid by credit card.Ē

So I can be reassured that whenever the due date comes up, the right amount of money will be sucked out of my credit card account to pay for the electricity and gas and water and trash service. And then whenever that credit card bill is due, another automatic payment will suck the right amount of money out of my checking account, and Iíll remain debt free.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:08 PM   #2
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I have some bills on auto pay but not all and I pay attention.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:13 PM   #3
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I have everything on auto-pay except a very few things. Property tax, car registration for example. But I pay them online as soon as it comes in the mail. I am worry free but still check the bill and amount just to make sure there are no irregularities. Every bill is preceded by an email telling me the next payment will be -usually 2 weeks or more in the future, so there's plenty of time to catch something. In the many many years I have been doing this I have not had a single screw up.

Credit cards are set for auto-pay but that's just in case I end up in a coma someday. A few days after I charge something I go to my online account and do a real-time online pay to clear the books. Nothing so far has needed to be "auto-paid" for credit cards
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:14 PM   #4
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I have utilities, association fees, internet, Netflix, Adobe CC, and other recurring bills on auto pay.

For credit card transactions, I'm much more hands on:
  1. Every transaction if recorded shortly after is occurs in my spreadsheet/checkbook register.
  2. At the end of the billing cycle, I check off each transaction to ensure that there are no errant charges.
  3. I manually pay the bill online through the credit card's website. This keeps me abreast of spending, helps me keep to my budget, and helps me monitor for errant charges, including tips on eating out that exceeded the amount I added (this happens several times a year).
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:16 PM   #5
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Almost all bills are on auto pay but I do pay attention and check them every month.
Many years now, and I've never had a problem.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:17 PM   #6
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I have most on autopay, however everything is tracked, transactions downloaded, statements downloaded and reconciled monthly, scheduled payments updated in Quicken monthly. So I absolutely know what is going out and where. I review transfers between accounts to cover bills monthly and adjust if needed.

So obviously both Quicken and I are paying attention.

I also have alerts set up as bills are paid, credit card charges happen.

I only keep enough to cover a months worth of bills in a couple of accounts, so I do pay attention. Other funds are kept in high interest accounts, but I prefer not to automatically link them in case of overdraft because I want a stop in place in case of fraudulent access to an account.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:21 PM   #7
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I put as much on auto to a credit card as I can. The ones that won't take a card or charge for its use go on Billpay.

All of my bills no matter how I pay them, are recorded into an spreadsheet each month. Nothing gets overlooked.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:22 PM   #8
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All of our bills are on auto pay except for the one off things like property taxes, auto registration, etc. I don't sweat the amounts since they are pretty consistent. Our heating bill during the Jan and Feb months will range from $200-250 depending on how many subzero days there are, but I don't sweat the difference too much. Same with the electric bill when we run the AC unit.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:23 PM   #9
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Most of our stuff is on auto-pay. Now if I can just convince DW to stop printing the monthly statements...
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:30 PM   #10
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Everything that can be on autopay by credit card is (for the reward, however small), otherwise is on autopay from checking.

Iím with you on the part about setting the AC/heat temperature where my comfort wins over the bank balance comfort. You could say Iím comfortable with that approach.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:35 PM   #11
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Everything is on auto pay except for the unusual things like property taxes, car license, and a check I write to church monthly.

I download every single transaction to Quicken, assign a category and a tag if needed which keeps us from blowing all our dough at once. Groceries, dining, clothes and some bills are all paid by the Costco Citi credit card, which is also on autopay (in full) each month. Once a month I generated a Quicken spending report which goes in a notebook. I'm newly retired, so still making sure I've got all my ducks in a row.

I do think I'd worry about this if I didn't pay such close attention. That said, I've never had to call a utility or auto insurance company and ask why our bill quadrupled. Just hasn't happened.

Only thing that DID happen was we took out a HELOC before we retired, and one day Quicken showed that we owed a large balance, except we had NEVER used it. I called the bank and they were incredibly embarrassed to have posted someone's HELOC check to our account by mistake. I've been with them for 50+ years, and I can forgive an easily rectified error like that in that time period.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:36 PM   #12
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My afternoons of check writing, stamp licking are the thing of the past. Most of my bills are auto pay. When I purchase weekly items I use cold hard cash instead of that credit card so I can get a better feel of my spending.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:44 PM   #13
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I have nearly all bills on auto pay. In theory, I will enter all of the transactions into quicken and categorize them as i have done for going on 30 years. That way I can run reports on a year over year basis showing, hopefully, consistency within spending categories.

This approach does leave me vulnerable to a misbilling that would likely not be corrected, however, if that were to occur.

Note I also have converted over to "entertainment" spending entirely in cash in recent years.

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Old 05-02-2019, 03:02 PM   #14
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Most of our bills are auto paid through the cash back credit card. The only tracking done is to verify all the charges are legit. We keep an eye on the balance in our checking and cash management accounts but don't really do any budgeting.


After 40 years of wildly fluctuating income I think the budgeting has become subconscious. Our month end cash balance has stayed in a rather narrow range (+/- a few k) for decades. Pretty much hands off and worry free.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExFlyBoy5 View Post
I too have most of my bills on auto pay (to a credit card) and I don't sweat the amount.
I'm worry-free, but not auto pay.

Quote:
When it's hot outside, I run the AC at a temperature that *I* find comfortable, not what is comfortable for my bank account.
Me too. But then I don't know anyone who checks their bank account before setting the temperature anyway.

Quote:
Nonetheless, I still track my expenses very closely and know pretty much how much electricity I use on a daily basis.
I track my expenses. I can't imagining caring how much electricity I use on any particular day. I'm auto-electricity.

Quote:
I can tell you how much energy is expended for the larger energy hogs and can even tell you the exact rates I will pay for a given month.
Sounds like too much work for no value to me. I'm auto-energy.

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So, what are your thoughts? Are you a hands off/worry free type, or on the other end of the spectrum? I think I am somewhere in the middle of it all.
Hands on. But I'm not at all worried. Haven't been worried for quite a while.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbo111 View Post
Most of our stuff is on auto-pay. Now if I can just convince DW to stop printing the monthly statements...
Does she print them so she can reconcile them?

Or just wants to file?
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:17 PM   #17
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Everything on autopay that I can. e-bill options, and I think all of mine have emails that tell me how much is being charged so I can see if something is out of line before it's paid. If I can use CC for points I do, otherwise it comes out of checking. I log into my checking account every few days to update my checkbook register spreadsheet, and maybe once a month I check CC transactions to make sure they all look legit.

Not totally worry free, but I'd worry more if I didn't check them. Much less stress to not have to keep track of bills and paying them before they are late. Time saver too.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:25 PM   #18
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We have everything on auto pay except home insurance. I want to see it prior to paying. DW still checks off every CC receipt and just recently dropped using a check register. We've never had an issue with auto pay. I would like to pay more with CC but seems mine gets compromised at least every year or so and dislike the process of changing all of those drafts.

Coz
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COZICAN View Post
We have everything on auto pay except home insurance. I want to see it prior to paying. DW still checks off every CC receipt and just recently dropped using a check register. We've never had an issue with auto pay. I would like to pay more with CC but seems mine gets compromised at least every year or so and dislike the process of changing all of those drafts.

Coz
I have a couple of otherwise unused credit cards that are used for CC bill autopay. They donít leave the house, nor are used for online purchases. Iíve had good luck with a long time and no compromises on them - knock on wood!
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:37 PM   #20
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I don't usually use autopay except where required. I do pay everything online that I can but I initiate the payments. Some payments require autopay so I do them. I don't find it particularly onerous to initiate the payments myself.
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