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Paying bills when not at home
Old 07-10-2012, 08:47 AM   #1
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Paying bills when not at home

Since FIRE-ing, I've traveled sporadically. And it appears as though I may have some travels of a month (or longer) in the future.

Currently, I still get paper bills but pay them online. I like getting the physical bills as it forces allows me to review my expenditures.

I'm wondering how my fellow FIREees handle payment of their monthly (and semi-annual, like property taxes) bills while not at home, especially when traveling on an irregular and unplanned short-notice basis (which precludes mail-forwarding).

omni
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:34 AM   #2
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DW/me travel quite often, and most is ex-CONUS.

All our bills (except for taxes) are on-line, both statements and payments. Also, most are "automatic" wherever we can set up a debit directly to our bank accounts.

We have (over the last decade) have no problems paying any of our bills, in time, and to avoid any extra charges.

Even though we are "old pharts" (in our mid 60's), current technology does not present a problem - in fact, it's made our life (and our lifestyle) much easier.

BTW, we still get "paper bills". Not so much for me/she, but just to let each other know about charges in the event that either of us would pass, without knowing any bill against our name.

Just our POV...
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:54 AM   #3
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My payment preferences go like this:

1) auto pay via credit card (love those cash back rewards)

2) auto pay via checking account (this includes entire CC balances each month)

3) pay online with credit card

4) pay annual, semi-annual online via checking (for example, my property bill, and vechile registration allows for this)

5) pay via good old fashion checking

When traveling, if a bill is due that I really have to pay before I get back, I pay it online. So far, I haven't been away long enough to miss a bill payment. I try to go with paperless bills when possible.
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
My payment preferences go like this:

1) auto pay via credit card (love those cash back rewards)

2) auto pay via checking account (this includes entire CC balances each month)

3) pay online with credit card

4) pay annual, semi-annual online via checking (for example, my property bill, and vechile registration allows for this)

5) pay via good old fashion checking

When traveling, if a bill is due that I really have to pay before I get back, I pay it online. So far, I haven't been away long enough to miss a bill payment. I try to go with paperless bills when possible.
This is my approach also. I have switched all recurring payments that I can to auto pay.
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:33 AM   #5
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Most of my bill are in auto pay through my credit cards or my checking. Credit card payments are automatically paid from my checking account. The bills that are not in auto-pay (1 HOA, property taxes, auto and home insurance, auto registration) are paid by on-line using CC or my checking account. I hardly use my checks anymore.
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:57 AM   #6
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I don't travel but all of my regular monthly bills have been automatically deducted from my bank account for the past thirteen years.

Most bills can be paid online these days.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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We also autopay as much as possible, but there are a few bills we still have to do manually though still through online Billpay.

As long as you can see the bills online, can pay them online, either directly or via a Billpay service, and have internet access at some time in your travels you should be fine.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:07 AM   #8
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Here is what I do,

Phone & electric autopay CC

Auto and house insurance auto registration, CC on line

CC autopay through ACH Vanguard Advantage, where there is always 6 months cash

Estimated taxes through eftps.gov ACH Vanguard
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:19 AM   #9
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I appreciate all the responses.

One thing kept me from switching to autopay. I've heard about people who had trouble with autopay when they either tried to cancel a service (e.g. switching cell phone providers or gyms)...and the older provider kept deducting from their account even after the switch to the new provider.... or incorrect amounts were deducted.

Has anyone had these types of issues (or any others I haven't heard about)?

omni
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:27 AM   #10
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All utilities are on auto-pay. The rest are manually initiated through "bill pay" online. Been that way for approx 8 years now. So far, no issues.
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by omni550
I appreciate all the responses.

One thing kept me from switching to autopay. I've heard about people who had trouble with autopay when they either tried to cancel a service (e.g. switching cell phone providers or gyms)...and the older provider kept deducting from their account even after the switch to the new provider.... or incorrect amounts were deducted.

Has anyone had these types of issues (or any others I haven't heard about)?

omni
Sadly, yes.

In dealing with my moms estate there were several of these autopay items that I had to deal with. The worst was an absurd "accidental death and dismemberment" policy sold through Wells Fargo to my dad, who had passed away twelve years before. The thing was draining $4.95 a month that my mom had never noticed. (It looked like a bank fee the way it was titled, but had an 800 telephone number attached.). This took multiple certified letters to the bank CEO, Consumer Products Executive VP, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to cancel.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
My payment preferences go like this:

1) auto pay via credit card (love those cash back rewards)

2) auto pay via checking account (this includes entire CC balances each month)

3) pay online with credit card

4) pay annual, semi-annual online via checking (for example, my property bill, and vechile registration allows for this)

5) pay via good old fashion checking

When traveling, if a bill is due that I really have to pay before I get back, I pay it online. So far, I haven't been away long enough to miss a bill payment. I try to go with paperless bills when possible.
This is what I do. Since the only bills I pay by check are semi annual (property taxes) and some utilities (water and propane), I could be gone for months. I can review the status of everything else online.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:10 PM   #13
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Prior to this year I used Quicken Bill pay and had for years. I like the fact that I could review my bill prior to paying and that i had more control.

In an effort to simplify my life, I converted everything possible to auto pay in January (at DD's suggestion). It has worked out very well and made my life much easier. Definitely the way to go. For more occasional vendors who don't do auto pay, I pay them online through my bank (free).

Has saved me time, effort and the $9.95/month that I was paying to Quicken Bill Pay (though their service was fine).

I can get an pay almost all my bills anywhere I can get an internet connection.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:17 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
I appreciate all the responses.

One thing kept me from switching to autopay. I've heard about people who had trouble with autopay when they either tried to cancel a service (e.g. switching cell phone providers or gyms)...and the older provider kept deducting from their account even after the switch to the new provider.... or incorrect amounts were deducted.

Has anyone had these types of issues (or any others I haven't heard about)?

omni
Never had an issue in 13 years. I have saved hundreds (thousands?) on stamps, though, and oddly my credit report seemed to get a boost from it, too.

When you move or switch providers, it helps to have the common sense to shut off the payment at BOTH ends - - at the provider and at your bank, separately. You'd be surprised at how many people forget to do that. Also it isn't instantaneous so I usually allow a month or two.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Prior to this year I used Quicken Bill pay and had for years. I like the fact that I could review my bill prior to paying and that i had more control.

In an effort to simplify my life, I converted everything possible to auto pay in January (at DD's suggestion). It has worked out very well and made my life much easier. Definitely the way to go. For more occasional vendors who don't do auto pay, I pay them online through my bank (free).

Has saved me time, effort and the $9.95/month that I was paying to Quicken Bill Pay (though their service was fine).

I can get an pay almost all my bills anywhere I can get an internet connection.
I also use Quicken to pay some of the bills on line (HOA and Landscape services) and I never have to pay any service charge. I have the bill reminders and when I mark them to pay, Quicken will send the request to my bank to initiate the payment. Bank does not charge a fee as well.
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:45 PM   #16
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I also use Quicken to pay some of the bills on line (HOA and Landscape services) and I never have to pay any service charge. I have the bill reminders and when I mark them to pay, Quicken will send the request to my bank to initiate the payment. Bank does not charge a fee as well.
My bank didn't offer that degree of integration with Quicken.
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:43 PM   #17
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Never had an issue in 13 years. I have saved hundreds (thousands?) on stamps, though, and oddly my credit report seemed to get a boost from it, too.

When you move or switch providers, it helps to have the common sense to shut off the payment at BOTH ends - - at the provider and at your bank, separately. You'd be surprised at how many people forget to do that. Also it isn't instantaneous so I usually allow a month or two.
No issues here either in ? yrs tho it's mostly switching credit cards and not so much providers. Switching cards is enough of a pain during the transition that I try to minimize that these days. For some (all?) providers, when you get an updated card (new exp date), you need to inform them ahead of the next charge of that new exp date. No problems w/ charge amounts tho I must admit I don't check to the penny anymore because the record is so good I got lazy and probably would only catch a gross error these days.
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Old 07-11-2012, 06:00 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550
I appreciate all the responses.

One thing kept me from switching to autopay. I've heard about people who had trouble with autopay when they either tried to cancel a service (e.g. switching cell phone providers or gyms)...and the older provider kept deducting from their account even after the switch to the new provider.... or incorrect amounts were deducted.

Has anyone had these types of issues (or any others I haven't heard about)?

omni
This is not uncommon. I avoid giving any risky vendors direct access to my main bank account. For example our health club pushed for this but I achieved the same rate reduction by setting up direct charge to our MC which I pay in full each month. If there were to be a problem I would just notify the CC company to deny the charges. If you set up direct ACH transfers the bank will refer you back to the vendor.

There are many instances also of third party vendors being soft targets for cyber intrusion due to weak safeguards. If they have your bank info that is bad.

I also keep a second checking account at another bank which I fund with cash needed while traveling overseas for ATM transactions etc. Easy to monitor or close with minimal loss if I detect a problem without lasting damage. It is the world we live in...
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:29 AM   #19
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I struggled with this for years before switching to on line bill pay through my bank. As needed (quarterly) I transfer funds from VG. Wonder what took me so long. I still get lots of paper bills and statements mailed to the house. When we get home, we hardly glance at them before DW shreds them :/
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Old 07-11-2012, 08:45 AM   #20
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I still get lots of paper bills and statements mailed to the house. When we get home, we hardly glance at them before DW shreds them :/
Save a tree, go paperless.
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