The introduction of the personal computer back in the 1980s was revolutionary for its day. Back then, convincing the consumer to purchase a computer involved explaining to families that they could use the machine to store recipes and write checks. Today’s PC and mobile devices are so much more. Yet despite the advances of technology over last 30 years, the personal computer is still a great tool for paying your bills.
We are very much in favor of organizing bill-paying tasks with the computer because we have seen how well it works for so many people. Using the computer effectively eliminates the need to remember when bills have to be paid. Furthermore, combining the computer with online account management eliminates the need to put checks in the mail.
Scheduled Bill Paying
A very popular way to manage bill payment with the computer is through a combination of online account management and payment scheduling. Using this method, you can create online accounts for all of your monthly bills including your utilities, credit cards, mortgage, and so on. Then you can schedule the various companies you work with to automatically debit your bank account or charge your credit card on a scheduled day every month. When a debit takes place, the consumer is usually sent an e-mail reminder.
Using this method has one clear advantage and two disadvantages. The main advantage of this method is being able to set up automatic payments and then forget about them. This may be convenient, but there is a serious drawback: not paying attention to how much you are being billed from month-to-month. People who use this method have to be extra diligent to pay attention to monthly statements.
The second disadvantage of scheduled bill paying is one of security. Whenever you set up an account utilizing automatic payments, you are giving another company direct access to either your bank account or your credit card. In a day and age where computer data breaches are becoming larger and more frequent, you have to think long and hard before choosing this option.
One-Time Bill Paying
Consumers who do not like the idea of automatically scheduled monthly bills can still use the computer to pay each bill individually. They can use a calendar application to enter due dates that will appear as notices a few days before a bill is due. Then they can still login to their online accounts and make payments on the chosen date. This is called making a ‘one-time payment’.
The one-time payment method is not as convenient as scheduling payments to be made automatically, but it is more secure and it forces the consumer to still pay attention to monthly statements. Using the calendar application accomplishes the goal of providing an automatic reminder of when bills are due.
Regardless of which method you choose, using your computer to pay your bills is tied together with a piece of financial management software. You can buy commercial products that run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, or you can opt for one of the many free programs out there. There are many good quality options capable of all of the functionality of a commercial product without any price attached.
Despite all of the advances we have seen in computer technology over the years, nothing has changed to prevent the computer from being an excellent bill-paying tool. You might want to consider it if you are having trouble keeping up with paying all of your bills on time.