MADISON, Wis. (6/16/08)--Streamlining your finances is a good idea anytime, but it’s especially important when your budget is under pressure from high gas and food prices. A few simple changes can make a significant difference, and one change is to put your bills and other payments on autopilot, according to the Credit Union National Association center for personal finance. The most recent Consumer Bill Payment Survey, sponsored by CheckFree Corp. and released January 2007, revealed that online payments made up 39% of all bill payments among online households. Spend some time enrolling and setting up payees in exchange for these important benefits:
* Simplify bill payment. You won’t be scrambling to find envelopes, stamps, and paper statements. * Save time and money. If you pay 10 bills each month, that’s more than $50 a year just for stamps, not to mention the time it takes to write the checks and deposit them in a secure mailbox. * Avoid late fees. If you’re prone to paying late, stay away from paper checks and snail mail (CNNMoney.com June 10). This also helps avoid credit-score dings. * Schedule bills to be paid ahead of time. When you get the bill, you can designate when you want the bill to be paid and then forget about it. * Automate recurring bills. If some of your payments are for the same amount each month, payable at the same time, schedule them to be automatically paid. If you have to evacuate your home for any reason, this feature helps ensure that your bills continue to be paid even if you’re in temporary quarters elsewhere. * Maintain flexibility. You can manage your payments from any computer at any time. * Stay safe. You’re more at risk paying bills with paper checks than using online bill pay. Paper checks can be lost—or stolen—during the mailing process, putting you at risk of identity theft and other types of fraud. * Help the environment. Paperless bill options will help save the world’s dwindling forests and overflowing landfills.
For more information, read “Before You Stop Automated Payments” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.