Learning My Lesson: Automate Your Finances!

I declined the option to automatically pay my credit card each month. I could have set it to pay the full amount by the due date and avoid any worrying. I could have avoided any reminders and let my bank accounts work in perfect harmony. But I didn’t.

Instead, I get a notice on the 1st of the month telling me that my bill is due on the 4th. Then, I use ING to pay the bill online. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG. It takes a few business days for the payment to show up in my credit card account, so when the 1st is a Wednesday or Thursday, the 4th is a non-business day and the money doesn’t show up until Monday! That’s exactly what happened this month. So what did I do?

I went to an ATM, withdrew many hundreds or dollars from my ING checking account, deposited them into my Bank of America checking account, then paid the bill online (which was immediate because it was within BOA). What a hassle! Plus, even though the two ATMs were located within 30 feet of each other, I didn’t enjoy having so much cash in my wallet.

The truth is that I check Mint often enough that I would notice if there was a mistake with my credit card. If I got charged for something I didn’t purchase, I would figure it out pretty quickly.

So, in the name of reducing stress and being able to focus on other things, I’m finally “truly automating” my expenses. I can tick off one more thing on my list that I don’t have to think about each month. Score!

8 Responses to Learning My Lesson: Automate Your Finances!

  1. I had the “opposite” experience recently. One of my bills that was automated, mysteriously stopped. It was a month behind before I noticed (I know….shame on me!) So there was a hefty $30 late fee. I called them and asked them to waive the fee as I have a history of paying well above the minimum and on time. They did….so no harm no foul.

    It was one of the few bills that was automated….I prefer online banking….it forces me to stay alery and keeps me in control.

  2. I need to do this as well. There is one credit card that I don’t use, but I’m billed a monthly fee. (I’m only hanging onto this card for a little while longer). Because I haven’t set it up to debit automatically from my bank account, I often remember to pay it on the day it is due. Luckily I haven’t been slapped with a late fee for not paying the monthly fee. If I automated this payment, I could just forget about it!

  3. ira says:

    BOA allows you to get e-bills. You get a notice on the email account you designate, letting you know that you have an e-bill. Then, you go to BOA on-line bill paying and tell it to pay the bill on the due date. BOA will guarantee that the bill is paid by the due date. If the due date is on a week-end, just pay attention and have it paid on Friday.

    • Daniel says:

      @ira, ING lets you do that too, as does any good bank. While I don’t love the idea of blindly setting up my bank account to pay my balances, I’m ok with it because I should be able to catch any mistakes well before the bill gets paid.

  4. Keith @ LifeTuner says:

    Do you pay your bills from the same account that your discretionary spending comes out of? I like the idea of automating, but I worry that I’ll lose track if I’m not manually paying the bills.

    • Daniel says:

      @Keith @ LifeTuner, Yes, I put most of my monthly expenses on my credit card and pay that off once a month with my ING account. Any bills also get paid via ING. The only other transactions I make are a once a month transfer to Bank of America so that I can withdraw cash from their convenient ATMs.

      Do you use mint? I find that it really helps me stay on track and gives me a very clear picture of my financial situation so I always know what’s going on. That’s what I think this transition will be easy for me!

  5. I love automated finances…saves me so many headaches! This is going on my Weekly Favorites list tomorrow, so thank you!

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