At the beginning of the month, after we’ve created our budget and I’ve paid the bills, I make my trip through the drive thru at our bank to withdraw our cash for the month. I know, we are “old school,” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For a while there, the teller asked me every single month about whether I was interested in automatic bill pay. I tried to be polite and said that I might think about looking into it. I realize that many of you reading may be completely sold on it, but I’ve realized that I’m just not a fan. Here’s why.
1. I like for us to control when bills get paid
Our budget is tight. We plan out every single dollar, so there’s no “fluff” in case a direct deposit doesn’t go through like it should. (We have our “slush fund” and emergency fund, but no extra in our actual monthly budget). If I set up automatic bill pay, I’d have to check our account every single day, just to make sure that nothing went wrong with all the deposits and payments.
I typically pay our bills at the very beginning of the month, but sometimes I have to wait for another paycheck to trickle in to pay the ones due at the end of the month, so I like being able to decide when those payments are made.
2. I only trust us with our money
I don’t want to give a bank that sort of control over our money and our payments. Maybe I’m too paranoid, but I don’t trust a bank as much as I trust us. We can certainly make mistakes and I completely understand that not choosing automatic bill pay could open us up to the possibility of a late payment, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
3. I like receiving paper bills
I am also paper girl. I like to receive paper bills and to be able to file them away. I understand that these bills can be accessed online, but I still like receiving the paper copies so I can sit down and examine them myself. It forces me to keep tabs on our expenses and I’ve often realized mistakes by doing this. If I were to sign up for automatic bill pay, I would be less likely to scrutinize each statement that comes through. I don’t keep paper copies forever, but it’s been nice to access past statements quickly and easily in our file cabinet.
4. It might tempt us to be lazy with our finances
Although sitting down and paying bills manually is work, it forces us to keep tabs on our finances. Since bills won’t automatically be paid each month, we have to keep track of them and it keeps us very involved in the cash flow process. We work hard to create a budget and I don’t want for the execution of our budget to become automated.
5. It dulls some of the pain of bill paying (which might not be a good thing)
This one might not make much sense, but hang with me while I try to explain. I don’t like pain…really, I don’t. But, there is something about experiencing a little bit of the pain of bill paying that keeps us much more aware of our spending. I have a feeling that we would become a little numb to the bill paying process if it were automated. By writing out the checks myself or paying the bill online directly to the company, it keeps that pain or feeling fresh in my mind. That feeling usually keeps me in line when I’m tempted to overspend.
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Do you use automatic bill pay? Why or why not?