Sometimes – Automatic Payments Suck

Okay, if you didn’t already know this, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m Lazy.

In fact, just about every major decision of my life thus far can be traced back to some for of laziness. I went to graduate school because I was too lazy to try to find a job. I moved to the midwest because I was too lazy (/anxious/a whole host of other reasons) to find a post-doc in California. I got laser hair removal because I’m too lazy to shave my legs.

I believe that everyone has a quota of energy they are given in a day, and we allocate the areas in our life that we want to put that energy. I rarely use this energy to pluck my eyebrows, blow dry my hair or put on make-up.

I recognize that sometimes it takes a small amount of effort upfront to get a reward of laziness in the future. And this is why I use automatic bill pay for all of my bills.

My paycheck arrives every month the last working day of the month. My bills are set to go through the next day (if this is possible) or the same day (if it is not). This is all set up through Bank of America.

This got me in trouble in August, and the result was me having my interest rate on my credit card raised from 10% to 27%. I’ve taken care of the issue that causes this, and instead of my due date being the 3rd of the month it is now the 8th of the month.

It again got me in trouble this month. My paycheck was SUPPOSED to go through on December 31st. My bill pay was scheduled for December 31st (couldn’t do January 1st because it was a holiday).

I have set up my accounts so that I get a text message when my money has been direct deposited. And by around 3pm on the 31st I started to get worried – why hadn’t I gotten the text yet?

I go online to my work website, and my paycheck is set for January 4th. JANUARY 4th?! Well now I’m kinda pissed because I’m SUPPOSED to get paid the last working day of the month, so I’m not sure why they would change the pay day without telling us.

That is neither here nor there I suppose, because what I’m really more concerned about is the fact that my bill pay for $1,300 to various bills is supposed to go through and I have $5 in my account.

So I call the bank to see if they can cancel the bill pay. They can’t because it has already processed. Suck.

Thus, my bills went overdraft onto my credit card. I’ll have to pay $10 for the overdraft, which also sucks, but thankfully they pulled all the money out as one transaction instead of one for each bill.

I suppose matters could be worse. At least I have nearly $4,000 worth of credit on my card to take care of the payments and I’ll immediately be able to pay it off on the 4th with my paycheck gets deposited. It just isn’t an ideal situation as far as I’m concerned.

I kind of feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t with automatic payments. When I don’t have them I tend to forget payments – and when I do have them they get messed up when my paycheck doesn’t come when it is supposed to.

All that said – I’m not giving up on automatic payments. I’d rather pay $10 to have all my bills go on my credit card and then immediately pay them off than to have late fees on my different accounts because I forget to pay the bills. I’ll just need to remember at the end of the month to check to paycheck to MAKE SURE I’m getting paid on the last day, and if not to move my bill pay.

Honestly, if there were a way that I could direct deposit my paycheck to my billing accounts without it ever even going onto my account I would probably do that! Then the money would arrive as soon as I got paid, and that would be good enough!

Am I the only one who has this kind of trouble with automatic bill pay?

Thing that made me happy today: Watching the movie “Once” from the library. I think Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are two very talented singers. The song “If You Want Me” makes me cry nearly every time I hear it, it is so beautiful. (Link goes to Amazon.com page where you can hear a clip of “If You Want Me”)

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14 Responses to Sometimes – Automatic Payments Suck

  1. Karen says:

    I don’t really use automatic bill pay. I do have a savings deduction, though. I get paid once a month on a specific date. If it is a non business day, it’s almost always the day before but occasionally the day after. My savings is supposed to start being deducted (it takes 3 days) on the payday date. For some reason, it was deducted early (ended up the day before payday). I moved the date out and it almost happened again (I think I had extra money in my account this time).
    Since I get paid once a month, I just pay all my bills individually at once. I get paid before the end of the month so that probably helps.
    I think your school screwed you by paying you 4 days late. I really think it should have been either the 29th or 30th. I’d talk to payroll and tell them they caused you a fee. Couldn’t hurt.

    • SS4BC says:

      Not a bad idea. The people at bill pay when I called said they would refund any fee caused by an overdraft if I DIDN’T have protection, so I’ll probably call the credit card people and see if they’ll do the same (doubt it). It will probably be easier to get BofA to refund me $10 than my university, sadly.

      This whole experience has just made we realize why I should try to accumulate at least 1 months worth of expenses as a “safety net” in my bill paying account after my debt is paid off. So I’m chalking it up to a learning experience that didn’t cost a WHOLE lot. =)

  2. Maritza says:

    Hmmm, it’s great to hear what can go wrong with automatic billpay too. I keep wanting to do it but thanks to my changing paydates, I can’t, yet have been trying to convince my brother to do so since he is horrible on being on time. Thanks for providing this downside of the automatic payments.

    Also, I LOVE that movie! The soundtrack is awesome and they really deserved that award. =)

  3. That’s why I stay away from bill pay – I prefer to have absolute control. Plus, if I fall on hard times and need to stop making certain payments, I can. This is one place where the YNAB method excels. It gets you to stop living paycheck to paycheck, and have a one month buffer to pay your bills with. Looks like you’re trying to do that already.

    • SS4BC says:

      I still prefer bill pay. It works for me because I’m VERY lazy and VERY forgetful. I forgot to pay rent and bills all the time before automatic bill pay. If anything, I would like it to become MORE automated than less.

      But this experience has definitely led me to understand why I need a buffer in my bill pay account. However, I’ll have to wait till I’m out of credit card debt for that. For now I’ll just use my credit card as my buffer and immediately pay it off – like I’m doing this month.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I agree, the buffer is key. And the other thing to try is to make the due dates a nice safe distance away from your payday, so that you can be sure no matter what holidays or other tricky things happen, you’ll have some leeway.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Oh, also, that energy to make me look good (eyebrows, hair, makeup, etc.) is definitely not used by me…I probably should try a bit harder to look a little better before going to work. I think looking put together is probably a good idea because it will make others realize that I know what I’m doing.

  6. I LOVE ONCE! Netflix recommended it and I am so glad it did. Such a great movie. I bought the soundtrack and listen to it constantly.

  7. LC says:

    I swear by automatic payments! It’s just a matter of making sure all your bills are due a few days after payday. I made sure to have all of my due dates 3-4 days after payday. Most companies will be glad to change the payment dates for you.

  8. I have faced similar problems with automatic payments. I have switched to manual payments from thus on.

  9. N says:

    I prefer the control of submitting payments individually through bill pay on my own terms. To be sure I don’t miss a payment, I’ve set up an excel sheet that lists all the bills and months. When I pay a bill online, I copy and paste the amount/date and confirmation details from my bank. This allows me to look down the list and know when my bills are paid for the month. It’s a small extra step that has been very useful.

  10. Yeah, I have had this problem more than once and griped about it on my blog. It is really frustrating for your payroll department to act however it wants. I’ve only started to get a handle on my finances in the last 4 months, so before, it was just one part of the chaos I lived with. Like you, I now realize that, despite the utility of a zero-based budget, life requires a buffer in my checking account. I am hoping to work up to $250 in there as a buffer (and long-term, I’d like to have one months expenses in checking all the time), because I cannot count on my creditors not to futz with the due dates or payroll not to futz with my automatic deposit date.

    I still view the autopay as a win, though. Even if it occasionally requires more attention, I am still far better off with it than without it.

  11. Aspiring Millionaire @ MyMillionairePlan.com says:

    I agree. Automatic bill payment is supposed to make life easier, right? It has given me more stress then I can imagine.

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