Thursday, March 1st, 2012
36

The Ways That People Pay Their Bills

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

We wondered how people pay their bills, so we asked them: how do you pay your bills? They—and we—answered thusly: It's a mess. Someone figure out how to make this less difficult, pronto.


So, how do you pay your bills?

Tyler Coates, blogger
"My roommate handles all of our utilities. We have a Google doc with all of the expenses, how much she has paid, and what I owe her, and I write her a check every month or two. In addition to that, I have rent to pay, which I do by check. I think that's the only thing I still use checks for! I have two credit cards, on which I generally pay the minimum payment when that is due at the beginning of the month. They’re attached to my bank account, so I just use their e-pay function. I also try to make other payments in the middle of the month, depending on if I have enough money to cover it.

"Nearly every other expense is automatically charged to my account every month: Netflix, Spotify, and SiteMeter (so I can stalk the people who are reading my blog / cry about what Google results lead to my site). My cell phone is still on my mother's family plan, so I don't have to pay that (although originally the deal was that I'd pay my mother the difference between a normal phone and an iPhone every month, which I think we both forgot about?). I also have a student loan from my brief stint in grad school. I pay my loan through the direct loan servicing site, which they just relaunched and is incredibly confusing and counterintuitive. Thank you for reminding me to check and see if I'm already late on that one."

Zack Cohn, ad seller
"Literally every way you could possibly pay bills, is how I pay bills. I can’t keep track of this stuff. Some of my bills I pay through the mail, like with checks. I have this horrible emergency health insurance and I don’t think they know how to bill me electronically, so I have to send that every month in the mail. I send my rent to California, because that’s where my landlord lives. That’s a check, in the mail. The health insurance is supposed to come out of my bank account but that’s never happened, the only thing that comes out automatically like it should is Netflix. I don’t even want to talk about this, it stresses me out."

Choire Sicha, business person
"I pay my rent each month by driving to one bank, taking out cash, driving to another bank, and depositing it in my landlord's account. TRUE STUPID STORY. It's the behavior of a CRAZY PERSON, and I have been doing it for two years straight. There are, like, LINES at the bank and parking is terrible so sometimes I park far away, and take a train there."

Mike Dang, writer and editor
"I get my bills by mail (one student loan and electricity) or by email (everything else) and pay each one on the same day I get it. I like the feeling of logging into each of my accounts and paying my bill, rather than have it mysteriously deducted from my account every month. For rent, I don’t get a bill. I just go for a walk and take a check to the leasing office a day or two before it’s due. As you can tell, I like the feeling of paying bills. I am walking to pay my bill. I am writing this check to pay my bill. I am going online and entering my information. It's so much more satisfying than automatic payments. (But Mike Dang, do you ever forget to pay your bills?—ed.) Ha, NO. I remember everything."

John Lewis, leisure diver
"My bills are all over the place. My company pays my phone bill. My Cable/AC/Credit Card bills are emailed to me, and I go online and pay them—I like to know what that stuff costs me. It always ruins a Tuesday morning, but I like to know. Then there's iPad data—that’s automatic, I don't wanna know. Then there's rent. I lick a freaking envelope and send a check to my landlord, which is I think how the cavemen paid rent."

Lisa Lenner, blogger
"I have my credit card, car payment, car insurance and student loan hooked up to my checking account so it's sucked out directly. HOWEVER, I signed up for a new credit card last year to pay for my contact lenses and that is still a bill I pay by check in the mail every month. CHECK IN THE MAIL! Like a pioneer woman! Anyway, last month and this month the statement hasn't come in. The mail system SUCKS, so I should call today to see if I can pay by phone. It's sticky because it's a 0% APR as long as I pay every month on time and I don't want to screw that up. So thanks for reminding me about that."

Logan Sachon, blogger
"I have everything set up with billpay to come out of my checking account automatically. Well, that’s the newest plan. Before I had a mix of all things and I’d forget which I had to pay and which got paid like magic and then I’d have to end up paying things over the phone at the last second and it was a bad scene. I now have a system of check and balances, which is this: I have a list of what is due when, and I check my list and compare it to my bank account when I’m feeling anxious to make sure everything is getting paid like it should. And it’s working! It does cost me $3.95 to use billpay every month, which seems like it shouldn't be a thing, but it is, so I pay it. Automatically."

Megan Frost, museum membership director
"I'm paying my bills right now. I will send you a visual. I get them in the mail and put them in a basket, and then once a month I spread them all out on the floor and realize about half of them are overdue."

The bill-paying process

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36 Comments / Post A Comment

Choire Sicha, business person: Good Dord!

Multiphasic (#411)

If it somehow involved fantasies about banging a barista, it could officially be the Worst Thought Catalog Post Ever.

I have questions for Choire. Why does Choire pay rent this way? This is not 1982. There are other alternatives that save gas and time.

melis (#1,854)

Choire is trapped in a 1982 time loop

so please be a little bit more sensitive

@Barbara Smith@twitter I share this shameful information so that the children will know what it was like when people did things all wrong!

Also things are awesome back here in 1982.

Ugh, I guess I should go on the Internet and order checks or something?

melis (#1,854)

@Choire Sicha A delivery from 2012 will arrive at the usual hollowed-out tree stump by the old delivery place that's going to burn down next month. Enclosed please find hand-drawn flipbooks recreating this year's most popular cat videos, a deep-fried McRib, and a compendium of the best Breitbart obituary-related Tweets (will explain later). Stay strong, time soldier.

Moff (#28)

@Barbara Smith@twitter: It's an open secret that he has to stay off the grid for reasons of personal safety. "Choire Sicha" is pretty obviously an anagram for a real name that is probably Italian.

@melis I can't wait till Grease 2 opens, it's going to be the best sequel everrrrrr!

@Choire Sicha I feel like you need our assistance. Badly. You don't need to order checks. Have the bank send the check for you.

@Barbara Smith@twitter I probably do. I mean… I CLEARLY DO.

Ugh but I don't know my landlord's address. I just have his account number, and we don't share a bank.

I give up.

@Barbara Smith@twitter Okay all better: http://cl.ly/2n0C301w0c3q363t1b2V

@Choire Sicha awesome! I was hoping to see your account number though! :-)

Congratulations!

HiredGoons (#603)

My (insanely low) rent covers all my utilities which my landlord just takes care of THEY WILL DRAG MY CORPSE OUT OF THIS STUDIO APARTMENT.

sox (#652)

@HiredGoons My old (actually old, like 75) landlord did this and it was so freaking awesome but he lived next door and then he commented one time, in perhaps a bout of dementia, that he'd like to sire children with me after his wife passed (she is alive). So now I have to live somewhere else and pay my utilities like some kind of grown up.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

cashcats.biz

sox (#652)

Thank you for reminding me to pay my rent!

Cyn. Zarco@facebook (#207,206)

omg, Choire! get a Chase checking account but first download a coupon from their site so you get $100 back or whatever promotion they have going on for signing up.
You can then pay anyone online who has an e-mail address (i assume your landlord has one) thru Chase QuickPay and it goes directly into his/her checking account w/o any fee for either of you.
If you must bank via teller in person, drive there 1st thing in morning unless hung over or get there during what I call the Cuban coffee hour, between 10-11 Miami time. No long lines.
btw, Chase has cash machines at every Walgreen's so you can always withdraw cash free, but, unfortunately, not deposit.

OH MY GOD, the new direct loan servicing website is THE WORST THING. I am so glad that was pointed out!

jfruh (#713)

I actually paid my rent Choire-style when I lived semi-legally in Germany for four months like 10 years ago, because Germans do everything by wire transfer and I didn't have a German bank account. I had to take money out of my American bank account via ATM, which meant that I had to take out the maximum amount for two days before the first, which meant I had to remember that. The reason I bring this up is because this was 10 YEARS AGO and IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY WHERE I DIDN'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OR UNDERSTAND THE BANKING SYSTEM and CHOIRE WTF ARE YOU DOING, WHY ARE YOU MAKING YOURSELF SUFFER.

cmcm (#22,589)

@jfruh Haha! I had to do this when I lived in France. Actually also when I studied in Canada, I had to pay my tuition this way. I was not a fan of walking around with a couple grand once a semester. (Then again, it was only CANADIAN dollars…)

Tyler! Why are you using Sitemeter when Google Analytics gives you pretty much everything useful that Sitemeter does for free?

Also, some banks are awesome and include the ability to take out cashier's checks for no additional cost. Perfect for rent because cashier's checks don't bounce.

SkyHits (#6,601)

People: They're just like us!

I'm not good at stuff.

Tyler Coates (#451)

@Choire Sicha Oh, boo. You're the best at being you.

joshc (#442)

If all of my bills weren't set to automatically pay themselves, I'd either be in jail for never paying them or catastrophically depressed about my spending. This way, I live happily in oblivion with the computers just snickering behind my back while they bounce the imaginary money around the internet like it's just this make believe thing that we invented.

My bank even has this fantastic service in which every month they print out a check and mail it to my landlord. I don't know how this works or why/if it's free, but it makes me feel less bad about putting my pennies in an evil corporate bank.

mishaps (#5,779)

@joshc oh, this is what I do too, and I didn't understand why it was free either, until I found out that what happens is your bank takes the money out of your account on the day they write the check, and holds onto it until the check is cashed, and with enough people doing that, and some of those checks taking a while to make their way back into the banking system, the float they get on the funds covers the costs and gives them a tidy profit. So, wins all around.

joshc (#442)

@mishaps oh wow. that is incredible. I suppose this kind of thinking is why the banks have all of the money and I don't.

Tyler: try billmonk.com. The design is clunky, but it's really handy for tracking expenses between roommates. Also, it's free, which is crucial.

SeanP (#4,058)

Paytrust. I have all my bills sent to them, and then The Machines pay my bills for me. It's awesome, and after all, The Machines are our friends and would never do anything to hurt us, right?

Brunhilde (#1,225)

I never really liked paying bills. I don't think I'm going to do that any more either.

Checking my credit card balance always stresses me out so I put it off and put it off… then it's sometimes late, because I couldn't take the ten seconds to log in and see when it's due.

I also thought my Amex was a credit card- turns out it's a charge card! What the fuck does that mean, you ask? Oh, it means you have to pay it off in full each month or you get paid a $55 late fee. I had $650 on it and kept wondering why the online bill payer website thing kept saying, "Payment overdue!" when I was putting $25/month towards it. Someone please come and take my Grownup License away.

cmcm (#22,589)

I find it so weird that people use checks. I'm American but have lived in the UK for 5 years and checks don't even really exist anymore here… pretty much everything you do by bank transfer – rent, everything. It's a hell of a lot easier. I mean, isn't it 2012? Money doesn't even exist in real life anymore anyway, it's all on the computer.

BoxMeowBox (#215,449)

Still have to write manual checks for a few things that are not able to accept ACH. Also don't use auto-pay. First, I am always scrambling to make sure there is money in the account; THEN, I want the satisfaction of pulling the trigger (well, clicking the mouse)and getting a little confirmation number, dammit.

We just had to change banks because the bank I'd been with since Joan Collins was a pinup girl, is abandoning the market. Setting up all new direct deposit, bill-pay protocols = not fun. Banks count on this pain-in-the-ass factor to make you 'sticky' so that you'll stay and be subservient while they ding you with fees.

rosan4rane (#223,202)

lol

ger6pandey (#223,233)

lol

Well, I think it's important to get all your bills in order.Because if there's a mess then a process of paying bills becomes crazy.As for me, at first I pay bills that are the most important and most urgent to pay.Then I charge accounts and my cell phone, the I make minimum payment to my credit cards.Also I write off my expenses to avoid overspending and it helps me to manage my budget.I have a document in my computer where there are all the bills I have to pay and when,better to plan your payments because it's easy to forget and get a payment missed.
Brian from Britain Loans

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