It’s that time of the month again! Fresh paycheck and bills need to be paid! But let’s be honest, no one wants to sit around spending 1-2 hours paying bills every month. This can mean spending 1-2 hours sorting through bank transactions, writing checks or calling up customer service, waiting on hold just to make a payment that takes no more than 5 minutes.
The process can be exhausting, but paying our bills on time is a necessary function of becoming a responsible adult. Whether you have several monthly obligations or just a few, automating your budget frees you from spending oodles of time obsessing over whether you paid this month’s electric bill and helps you maintain financial discipline by developing a budget.
Here are a few tools to help you put everything on autopilot so you can set it and forget it:
Mint: Free Online Money Management
Mint.com is a wonderful tool that gathers all of your accounts in one place analyzing your spending patterns. This is great if you find yourself stretched thin a few days before payday or if you’re just curious as to where your money goes over the course of a month or even in between pay periods.
For the purposes of this article, use Mint to determine your income and expenses and then set up a budget for your recurring expenses that works for your financial situation. Once you get started, think of the next 30-90 days as a pilot budget while you work out all the tweaks and make adjustments.
Once you know where your money is headed every month, this gives you the information to determine where to pull back and where you can increase your efforts, for example, that emergency fund you’ve been meaning to start!
- Open an account with Mint.com here
- Add your bank accounts
- Categorize your transactions (Bonus: Mint does this for you!)
- Check out the charts to see where your money has been over the last 1-3 months
- Set up a budget within Mint to get your finances in check
This sets up your foundation to move on to the next step: Online Bill Pay. Once you know what’s coming in and out of your accounts, you can set everything up to move automatically. The best aspect of using your bank’s bill pay system is that if ever there is a problem they can see what’s happening on the bill pay side and take a look at your accounts. You also maintain control within your bank’s bill pay system instead of allowing your creditors/monthly obligations to draft the money from your accounts.
Bill Pay: Open a USAA Checking Account
No other bank comes close to USAA’s customer service and tools to help make managing your money easier. If you’re looking for a bank that comes equipped with:
- Great customer service
- Mobile app to help you manage your accounts and your budgets on the go
- Bill Pay
- Great discounts on home and auto insurance
USAA has it all! So how does USAA help you automate your budget? Once you sign up for an account, set up the online bill pay within your account dashboard. You’ll have to do this one time and that’s it! Set up all external accounts within bill pay based on their respective due dates.
- Sign up for an account with USAA
- Gather all external account information: account numbers, mailing address, due dates and bill amounts
- Set up Bill Pay within USAA’s account dashboard
That’s it! USAA will also send you emails when they have scheduled your bill to be paid and when the payment has been sent out. This way you can stay on top of things without spending hours paying bills every month. You stay in control and recover a few hours for yourself at the end of the month. The consequences of not remaining in control may be having to resort to cashloans.co.uk to make ends meet in between paydays. If you’d like to avoid this, set it and forget it!
Do you use Bill Pay or do you sit down and pay every bill manually?