Mar 9, 2012

Paying Bills in a Paperless World

As more and more businesses insist on sending bills electronically, I find myself less and less sure of actually receiving a bill. That's why I created a simple chart to keep track of all our regular household bills and when they are due. Other reasons to keep such a chart include:

* To avoid missing due dates
* To keep track of online bill paying passwords
* To always have contact information for bill paying, in case you loose access to the Internet

Whether it's because the power goes out or because you forgot (again!) to pay that electric or Internet bill, it makes sense to have all the information on hand to pay your bills without a computer. And with a bill paying chart on hand, you have complete knowledge of when bills are due and how to pay them.

Creating this chart shouldn't take long. I created mine as I paid my bills one month. I made up the chart in Word, since I feel more comfortable with that program than Excel, but you should use whatever is comfortable for you - even if it's just old fashioned pen and paper.

On the paper, list the name of company, when the bill is due, your usual method of payment (for example, you could list the company's internet address where you normally pay the bill), alternative methods of payment (like a snail mail address), customer service contact phone number, and (if desired) your password to pay online.

In your list, you may also wish to include contact information for your bank.

For your convenience, you may download a copy of my simple template in Word or .PDF format.

I should note that ideally you won't have to write your passwords down anywhere. If you really can't remember them, try writing down a hint instead, or just part of the password. To come up with passwords that you don't need to write down, I know of two methods:

1. Think of a sentence that's easy to remember, like "My hubby's birthday is January 1, 1970." Then remove all but the first letters of that sentence: MhbiJ170. Next add characters like " ? * and !. Example: !$MhbiJ170)
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2. Use the same method as above, except substitute misspellings, numbers, and symbols. For example: Mi#u66is6rthdiz11970.

3. Use the same method, but add the first two letters of the website - for example, a password for the City Electric Company might be !$MhbiJ170)Ci

All passwords should be at least 8 characters long, have upper and lower case letters, special characters, and numbers. It's best to have slightly different passwords for every website; that way if someone manages to get your password, they won't have access to all your sites and accounts.

You can test the strength of your password at Password Meter.

3 comments:

  1. That’s a wonderful article, friend!
    I have recently found a website, which will actually take care of all your bill payments. Finovera provides an automatic bill pay service will pay your bills on your behalf. So, you will never have to worry about paying your bills. It will be done on time, every time! Finovera will send you an alert if a bill is unusually high or if you need to transfer funds to cover it. Finovera is absolutely free to use and always will be!!!

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  2. Thanks, Alvin. I don't care for automatic payments of any type. I prefer to know exactly how much and when is going out of our account.

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  3. That's fine, Kristina. This website (Finovera) helped me a lot and so I just wanted to share with you. Thank you, friend.

    ReplyDelete