This week, in preparation for filing my tax returns, I started going over ALL of my bills. Last year was very busy and I did not spend enough time on checking monthly bills because I enrolled in every auto payment program being offered.Auto bill pay lets you pay the bills each month automatically, without even seeing them but that does not mean you should not review them. Learn from me. I have now spent hours, lost money, and become frustrated by my own ‘shift’ in not reviewing my accounts each month. Shame on me for not taking my own advice. I had become lazy and it cost me time and money. Stop The Stupid Stuff® 

Stop the Stupid Stuff

When auto bill pay was introduced I thought it would save me time. I signed up for every auto pay from utilities to credit cards. What a mistake I made. I became lazy. I did not check the bill each month and money was simply deducted from bank or debits to my credit cards. Shame on me.

Auto bill-pay isn’t an excuse to stop reviewing your statements.

Shame on me.

I found that Comcast charged me for a premium service and streaming movies, which I did not order. I found that AT&T ‘free rollover’ of minutes had fees associated with using them when out of the country. I discovered that my auto payment date for Chase was being processed two days later than the due date on the statement and I was charged late fees.

 

I spent hours on the phone with customer service personnel who did not have the authority to issues credits over $50 without a supervisor’s approval. I found that many companies will only go back 90 days to review charges that are in dispute. Today customer service is polarized, either it’s great or terrible. I think we would all agree it is much easier to purchase something than to get a refund or credit.

We’re all busy, and we have better things to think about than when our credit card or phone bill is due. If you miss a payment it can lower your credit score which is why it’s so inviting to sign up for automatic online bill pay. Fees are charged automatically but credits are issued manually. Mistakes happen but  no one is going to spend time on your account reconciliation but you. I have no one blame but myself. The bigger the company, the most likely charges and fees will be added without your permission. Shift Happens and it is our responsibility to ensure that what is being charged is accurate.

Shame on me.

Here’s my advice on what to ‘auto pay’ and what not to auto pay.Slide006

AUTO BILL PAY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER:

Your Savings, IRA, Retirement Accounts

Making your savings automatic will help you build up your safety net without feeling the pinch. Pay yourself first. If you set up automatic, regular deposits from your paycheck to your savings account you will find that it is a painless process.

Fixed Expenses

If the payment is fixed, with no variables, auto pay is great. You should still check the statements but it will only take a minute or two. Netflix, insurance, etc. are perfect. Cell phone, cable, Internet are not since they change prices with add-ons such as ‘over limit’ or ‘out of country’ or ‘heavy usage’ fees are applied.

AUTO BILL PAY YOU SHOULD NOT CONSIDER:

Variable Expenses

Don’t auto-pay expenses that vary every month, like your cell phone bill. Retain control over these expenses in case you go over your usage limit; if your bill is outrageous, you don’t want your bank account to pay it without your knowledge. You should never auto pay your credit card. You may want to consider the minimum to keep current but you should still verify that all of the charges on your credit card are accurate.

If It Means You’re Going to Stop Keeping Track of Your Accounts

Be careful about automatically paying inaccurate charges on any of your accounts. Also be on the lookout for overdrawing from your account, which could happen if the autopay deducts money you don’t have in your account. You could also potentially face late payment fees if a service provider changes your bill’s due date but you neglect to change it in the payment system. None of these should be issues as long as you remain vigilant.

If you don’t maintain a large balance in your checking account do not use auto pay. The overdraft fees will be a deterrent.

Auto bill-pay is a great convenience tool, but it is not an excuse to tune out from your own accounts. If you don’t pay attention-Shame on You.

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