When do you pay bills? And how?


#1

Everybody’s got bills to pay, even if you aren’t paying down debt. Power bills, water, phones, mortgage, internet… We all have to send some of our money to someone else for something each month. This might seem like a pretty straight-forward subject, but I think there are many differences of opinion regarding the best way to do that.

I once read a book on personal finance in which the author suggested that every bill should be paid as soon as it is received. As in: receive bill in mail, sit down, write check, put stamp on envelope and put in mail box. All within a five minute span.

Personally, I pay all bills for the month on the 14th of each month. Most of them aren’t due until the 25th, which gives plenty of time to arrive even if they get lost in the mail. I feel like this helps me make sure I get all of them paid, and paid on time.

And then there is the difference in how people pay their bills.

For instance, I really dislike paying bills with any method other than by writing a check. (I’m a dinosaur, I know.) I don’t like monthly drafts, I don’t like paying over the phone. I like to keep track of it by writing it out by hand. I know, though, that there are a lot of people for whom writing a check is the equivalent of watching your movie on a VHS tape. Still, writing out a check makes me recognize the amount I’m paying better than paying over the phone, and a lot more than a monthly bank draft. I don’t feel that bank draft the way I do writing a check.

Of course, then there’s my sister, who is so bad with her money that paying bills each month means deciding which ones can be late this month and which ones can’t. I’ve tried to help her, but if you’re not open to help it doesn’t really matter.

What are your opinions? How do you do it? What are the advantages to your system?


#2

I automate as much as I possibly can, and that definitely includes bill paying. Everything is auto-drafted within a week of the bill’s issue. I hate paying bills manually, and I certainly can’t be trusted to actually remember to do so. With automation, I’ve never missed a single bill for as long as I can remember.


#3

Everything is automatic for me. I just keep track of everything through Mint to make sure companies don’t overcharge anything but that’s much faster than writing checks.


#4

My husband and I shared a freelance client that, up until now, has been paying our invoices once per month. I also had biweekly invoices for my second client, when there was work for them. So I had money coming in at all weird times of the month, but the majority of it came in monthly at a pretty predictable time, so I’ve gotten in the habit of paying the bills with my husband, once his check fully deposits each month.

I don’t like credit card companies and bill payees to have access to my bank account information (they can technically take money out of your bank account any time they want if they have your ACH info!), so I use the online bill pay out of my checking account only. I have my utilities set to autopay (either on a credit card or from the bank account), but I pay credit cards (full balances paid off each month) manually so that I’m always forced to look at the amount and could sniff out any fraudulent purchases, or overspending.

Unfortunately Capital One 360 changed their Person2Person payment system, and I can no longer schedule my rent “checks” ahead of time, which is a real bummer to me. This is the one bill I have to log in on the day and pay. Cap360 says that the feature will be coming back to their P2P system, and I just can’t wait. I hate having to remember to do something on a specific day.


#5

I put everything on my credit card that I can for the reward points.

I usually look at my bills first before paying, because I’d rather start the discussion if something isn’t right before it’s paid rather than fight to get my money back.

Timing usually depends on budget progress. If I’m running positive for the month, I pay it ASAP so I have more time between payments when needed, but still before the deadline.


#6

They still have “checks” @edgarpickle? You got me interested enough to go searching for my old cheque book, and I’ve written a total of two cheques since it was issued in 2008.

Pretty much all of mine are automated direct debits or standing orders, the rest gets paid on a reward card. For the odd recurring bill that can’t be paid that way, I’ve set up reminders for myself to make the electronic payments manually once the invoice arrives (or to chase it up where the invoice hasn’t arrived).

That said here in the UK there has been a big push towards electronic statements/bills, and electronic payments. It is pretty common for vendors to offer a discount to customers who avoid the paper based approach, and there is some talk of them being able to charge a fee to issue paper statements or process paper based payments in the not too distant future.


#7

I’m actually about to write a post on this as we speak! :grin: I’ll share the short version here though.

Because I budget line items, and “pay” the expenses monthly into the account the bill will be deducted from, I know what bills are coming approximately when, and that the money is already there to cover it.

I don’t like granting access to companies to withdraw from my accounts without my approving it first, so I never accept “autopay” or anything like that. But, all bills are delivered electronically into my online bank (tied to my SNN, so it shows up in all my banks if I have several). So all I have to do is log in to my online bank, or app, and approve the bill and decide which account it should be paid from.

I never pay before the bill is due, and I can’t even remember receiving bills in paper form!


#8

My bills are mostly automated and I prefer to pay on time. I pay my health insurance one month early, just to be safe. For credit cards, I used to pay the balance weekly, but now I actually wait until the statement and then pay the previous balance at that time. I also have a mortgage on a rental property that I pay one month early. I know it doesn’t maximize my dollars, but I’ve had this account set up like that for years. At least it gives me an extra month buffer in addition to my ‘reserve/emergency’ funds.


#9

Everything is paid on our credit card that can be so we only have about 4 withdrawals from checking each month.
1 - mortgage
2 - credit card bill (always paid in full)
3 - utilities that can’t go on credit card
4 - tithes and offerings

These all happen pretty much the same day of the month and are automated through free bill pay at our bank. Any other withdrawals from checking are very small and excess is moved to savings once or twice per month.


#10

I autopay as much as I can with a credit card that gives cash back. If a company won’t accept credit card autopay and for credit card payments, I’ll autopay from my checking account.
Our stupid water company won’t accept autopay, so I do this manually through the company website when I get the email statement.
I aim for inbox zero (and achieve it most days) so any paperless statements that arrive get a quick scan for errors then get deleted or archived. I also put the amounts on my Expenses spreadsheet.


#11

I pay all of my bills using an app called Prism. It’s perfect because it’s totally free, but still allows me to see all my bills in one spot. I know I could probably just set everything to autopay, but there’s something comforting to me to be able to check the bill and then quickly pay it. Just a system that works for me.

I actually wrote a review about Prism a while back that might be helpful for anyone trying to figure out their own bill pay system.

Prism App Review


#12

Fun topic! All of my bills are electronic and on AutoPay (with my credit card for points if it applies) except property taxes. My credit card is then paid in full once a month automatically or sometimes I randomly pay it off if I don’t like the number.

My BF, on the other hand, gets paper statements and pays things randomly…it makes me insane! I am slowly getting him to switch some of his things to electronic statements but its an ongoing process. I often find year old cable/electric/phone/you-name-it statements randomly around the house because on top of being a paper statement kind of guy, he is also a pacer and never sits still! :laughing:


#13

Like @stephonee, we prefer to push payments rather than allowing them to be pulled. The exception is the mortgage and HELOC payments.

Basically, I’ve a semi-set schedule of chores to do during the week and Wednesday is bill pay day. Anything in the “to pay” pile gets paid on Wednesdays via bank bill pay (online). Some bills (CenturyLink, I’m looking at you) seem to arrive in the mail with only a few days between arriving and the due date. The bill date “claims” was generated/mailed out 10 days earlier, but, really…? Other bills, like property tax, get a check written because the county wants to tack on a 2.5% convenience fee otherwise - which amounts to almost a couple hundred dollars.


#14

Every bill we have is on autopay and on a credit card if they accept those and the credit card is paid off each month. I use quicken and track every expense so I know how much the bill was and if I was over/under charged for some reason. I’ve never had an issue getting money returned if there was a problem. I’m all for ease and convenience. I always keep enough in our checking account to pay all the bills in the budget for at least one month, so it doesn’t really matter to me when they go out. I think I have them scattered throughout the month, but obviously paid before the due date. So interesting to hear how everyone does things differently and what works for people :smiley:


#15

I automate as many as I can (cell and internet for now). My rent is paid on the 1st of the month with a check. I pay off my credit cards at the end of the week once I’ve entered my spending into Quicken.


#16

My wife pays. :slight_smile: At one point, I did all the paying usually on the weekends, and when I saw that we were spending too much, I’d talk to my wife. As you can imagine, my wife didn’t appreciate all this notification, so I asked her to pay the bills so that she could manage our spending, and I haven’t looked our bills since then. :slight_smile:


#17

Like other posters, we pay whatever we can with our CC to earn the rewards on those expenses to be paid off in full.

We also pay our credit cards online. Probably every 2 weeks because we like to keep the balance low no matter what we have been purchasing for the last 2 weeks. For some reason, this seems to happen every other Friday when I don’t have to work (flex schedule).

I don’t do autopay, but set up Bill Pay transfers every month from our credit union’s online site. For the mortgage in particular, since we often pay extra and I sometimes tweak the amount of ‘extra’ we pay - I like to do this each month so I have more control.

For the very few bills that come in mail and we MUST write a check for, I do this the same day I receive it. I’m always afraid that the bill will get lost somewhere in my house or stuck under a box or something by mistake. I pay it the same day, mark it accordingly and put it in the to be filed or purged bin. I guess this may fall in the ‘5 minute’ category although it doesn’t always happen within 5 minutes of me opening the mail.

I also prefer to pay for whatever I can in full annual increments to just be done with it for the whole year. Like car insurance and our HOA fees.


#18

This is good stuff. I saw taht you can pay bills through Mint as well now. When I’m traveling ,might be handy to pay CC bills via phone app.


#19

I use a different method then I’ve seen be used before. I’m sure it’s much more common, but haven’t seen much on it :wink:

To make sure I don’t forget about any of them, I always use automation. All of my bills are also linked up to my mint account. But, I haven’t tried to pay through the new mint bill pay quite yet. I use the automation through each of my bills websites.

^^ Pretty standard right? The difference with the method I’ve been using is that I actually have a separate online bank account through capital one that I deduct my bill pay from.

I calculated out how much I owe each month and then each paycheck (bi-weekly), I have an automatic transfer for half the amount I owe per month. That way by the time my bills are due I have the money sitting there in my online account and it’s automatically deducted to pay each. But, I always try to stayone paycheck cycle in advance.

Even making a cool 0.25% on interest while it’s sitting in my online account :sunglasses:

I take a different approach to paying bills. Referring to bills as my opponents that must be paid each month. I call it The Budget Game. Because, who doesn’t love games.


#20

I use autopay for every single one of my bills that I can and they are all paid exactly on the due date. I don’t feel disconnected because I enter them as upcoming transactions in my YNAB budget when I receive the bill so I can clearly see my current bank balance and all bills that will be paid soon. I also only keep enough in my checking account to cover the upcoming bills, so I’m not really concerned about these utility/credit card companies having access to my account.

For me, this means that I don’t have to worry about remembering to pay the bills on time or losing a bill and missing the payment. I also can just spend one day per week making sure I have enough in that checking account to cover all the payments that will be due in the upcoming week. It definitely frees up some time that I can spend on something that is more worth it to me than writing checks.