The Ways That People Pay Their Bills

by Logan Sachon

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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Top photo by meddygarnet