It was now weeks ago I wrote about paying small monthly bills several months in advance to save time – and actually come out ahead financially as well.
I had meant to print your very good responses immediately thereafter, and then went off on innumerable political jags. (Thanks, by the way, for your help – now up to 2% of you. Ninety-eight more days, give or take, and it will be unanimous.) Here they are:
Ed Shoben: ‘FIFITY CENTS A TRANSACTION? Why pay over $100 a year (assuming you pay 50 bills a quarter) when it could be free? check out the 1st Internet Bank of Indiana. No fees for bill paying, a rebate of your ATM fees anywhere (even in Barcelona) and an interest rate of 1.34%. They will even go pull money out of my local checking account without cost.’
Brad Hurley: ‘You wrote << and because Quicken charges 50 cents a transaction (if memory serves), much of the above math can still make sense. >> I think Quicken Bill Pay actually costs $10/month. The cost per transaction thus varies according to the number of bills you pay each month: If you routinely pay only electricity, gas, telephone, and Internet, for example, you’ll pay $2.50 per transaction. Ouch!’
Gloria: ‘I use Billpay at Yahoo! It is easy to customize and completely free (if you use the basic service, which is all I need).’
Paul Johns: ‘My credit union has long offered online bill paying for free. As soon as the bill comes, you enter it to be paid later (near the due date). Very easy, no stamps. Wonderful! Bank of America is advertising free online bill payment, too.’
Emerson Schwartzkopf: ‘Your method of paying several months in advance makes sense, as long as you don’t run into an ICP (Inane Corporate Policy). With some companies, a check that’s too large (such as the amount for a year’s worth of cable service) sets off a red flag, because you’re now the teeny-tiniest of liabilities on the books. The result is that you end up with a refund check for your overpayment and, if the eclipses are aligned correctly, a bill with a late charge (because they refunded your money before the monthly charge on your account).’
Chris Petersen: ‘Years back I signed up with Wells Fargo’s online account management system. It allows me to send money to anyone, even my dear old dad. Wells Fargo guarantees safety (as long as you don’t divulge your password). The only downside is that they require a minimum balance of $5,000 total in all managed accounts for the service to be free. My box of 200 checks that I bought 2 years ago, still has about 195 checks left.’
Jim Thorp: ‘Thanks! I thought I was the only weirdo doing this. But…the biggest thing for me is not the return but the time involved, which for most of us far outweighs the savings on the stamps.’
Eric E. Haas: ‘I liked your discussion today about saving money by paying in advance. You also discussed electronic bill paying. I thought you’d like to know about a good deal along these lines. If you open up an e-Checking account at pcbanker.com and keep at least $1,000 in it, here’s what you get: A great interest rate on your money (it fluctuates, but has been consistently higher than good money market mutual fund yields for at least the past two years). ATM fee reimbursements. They refund you up to $1.50 in ATM usage fees for each of up to four times per month that you use anybody’s ATM. Free on-line bill payment service. No monthly fee — pretty good deal. Free business reply envelopes for mailing deposits. I’ve had an account there for some time and it works great. P.S. I have no affiliation with pcbanker.com except being a satisfied customer.’
‘If this is class warfare, then my class is winning.’
– Warren Buffett
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