Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Paying Bills Online

You want to catch up with an old friend. Do you take the time to post a letter? No, you email them. Do you drive to your local library to do research? Again, no. You jump on the internet. Do you step outside to determine the weather? Of course not. You log on to Weather.com. So why do you still balance a physical checkbook, and pay your bills through the US mail?

That question was directed at those of you who don't pay their bills online. For those of you that do, congratulations. Welcome to the future. You've joined an elite corps of individuals who understand that the digital frontier isn't something to be feared, but to be embraced and harnessed for the good of your free time. Why spend a half hour or more paying bills? That may have been good enough for the Dark Ages, but so was the plague, and one third of the population of Europe died as a result. I'd say the risk of plague is far more troublesome than the slim chance that some malfeasant might get a hold of your bank account information.

I've always had a tough time keeping tabs on bills. Even when I have the money to pay them I often lose track of them and end up late. So for me, the ease of online payment is a necessity. But it's beneficial for anyone. I have all my payees set up in Quicken. When I get a bill all I need to do is launch the program, pull up a virtual check, pick the right payee from the payee list, punch in the amount and hit send. Done. Bill's paid.

If I were a little more responsible it would always be that easy, but sometimes I have to sort out the previous month's bill, so it gets a little trickier. But at least I don't have to worry about writing a check, buying a stamp, and posting the bill.

This risks anymore are minimal. And if you pay bills electronically through your bank like I do, instead of through each individual payee, the risk is nearly nil. So there's really no downside, other than the fact that you need a computer and the smallest bit of online savvy. Even if you don't have a money management program like Quicken, you can participate. Most banks offer online bill payment through their website interface. All done through secure, encrypted transactions.

Minuscule risks. Big rewards. Zero rat-borne illnesses. Online bill payment is the bees knees.

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