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Get With the Times Already

I have an older friend who is incredibly intelligent, and he's not a Luddite either; he actually has a fancy smartphone with a screen even nicer than mine!

However, he absolutely refuses to convert to online billing. I am fairly certain that for the rest of his days, he will continue getting bills in the mail and writing checks for them and driving those checks over to the post office.

He's a great guy, but on this topic, don't be like him.

"Use electronic payments and banking when possible. Sounds contradictory, doesn't it? You would think that paying your bills online or using your online banking services would put you at greater risk for identity theft, but nothing could be further from the truth. When you’re conducting financial transactions online – safely – you’re far more protected than when you send checks through the mail that can be stolen, washed, and re-used. If you haven’t set up electronic payments, now is a good time." ~ Your Risky Mailbox: Identity Theft 101

I'll bet that one surprised you, didn't it?!?
It still probably won't convince my friend :-/
But if YOU are ready to make the switch, here are two different strategies...

  1. This is the most important step: schedule 1 hour when you can work on this project, completely undisturbed. Put it in your calendar - it will help keep you accountable to yourself.
  2. Make a list of all of your bills.
    • As always, I recommend doing this in Excel (or something similar).
    • The spreadsheet should include the Company Name, Billing Day, Average Bill Amount, plus any notes you may want to have handy (including website usernames & passwords).
  3. For each bill, go to the company's website and see if they offer online automatic billing.
    • It sometimes takes a few weeks for auto-billing to kick in (so read the details carefully).
    • It is best if you have 1 credit card which you can allocate solely to paying bills. Then, simply pay off that 1 credit card in full at the end of every month.
    • Also check to see if the company offers "paperless online statements" and signup for that option.
  4. Once you've finished converting all of your bills, for the next month, keep an eye out on the mail for anything you might have missed or forgotten about.

  • This strategy follows the same basic idea, except, instead of doing it all at once....
  • Get your spreadsheet ready (as described in #2 above).
  • Then, complete step #3 (above) each time a bill comes in the mail, instead of writing a check.

Converting to automatic online billing and putting everything on 1 credit card will save you time & headaches. It will also help save the planet by eliminating boatloads of useless mail.

Furthermore, now instead of having to file years' worth of statements in drawers or cabinets in your office (which takes up valuable real estate)... You will have all of your statements available to you online at any time!

NOTE:  some companies only store, for example, the most recent 6 months worth of statements. If you need or want to have access to more than that, I would recommend setting up an "electronic filing cabinet". Create a folder on your computer called "BILLS". Create a folder inside for each company you pay bills to. Then, you can just download your statements as PDFs every month (or twice a year or whatever you deem necessary)  Some sites even offer the option to download your statement directly into QuickBooks or other financial software.

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