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 Post subject: Online Billpay, etc.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:32 pm 
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Location: Portland, Oregon
So, I'm getting closer to signing up for a high-yield online savings account. After all of the comments on my blog post, I'm leaning toward ING Direct. It's not important to me that they're not the highest interest rate. From the sounds of it, they have outstanding customer service and interace. That's important to me.

But what I'm really posting about here is that I need to find a way to automate bill payments. Here's my situation:

* My primary checking and savings are with a local credit union.
* My business checking is with Wells Fargo.
* I have the following regular payments to make each month: mortgage, home equity loan, cable, telephone, car insurance.

My car insurance now sends me an e-mail reminder two weeks before the bill is due. I simply pop onto the web site and pay by hand. I would love to automate this, but I don't know if it's possible. (State Farm is the carrier.)

In my ideal world, I would set up Wells Fargo to automatically push money from the business account to either my credit union or to a new ING Direct account once each month. This second account would then distribute the money automatically, without any interference on my part.

In the past, this sort of thing wouldn't have been feasible for me. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Now, though, I have a cushion, and this sort of automation really appeals to me. How many of you have done this? Does it work well? Any tips?

p.s. Oh yeah: I'd also like a monthly contribution to my IRA. Sharebuilder can pull money on a schedule, though, so that's easy to set up.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
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If ING works in the US the same way it works in Canada, you're out of luck.

I can't pay bills directly from my ING account; I have to transfer the funds to my main bank account and pay from there. Unless you have the Electric Orange account with ING (which isn't available in Canada yet), this is what you'd have to do. I assume you can pay bills electronically and automatically with Electric Orange, so you might look into that.

My bank here in Québec allows me to set up automated payments, which is great, plus it allows me to receive all my bills electronically via Canada Post's "ebill" service. I don't receive any paper bills anymore; everything comes to me online and I pay the bills online via just one website (my bank's site). I love that. It's almost as easy as paying everything directly from within Quicken, which I used to do before my bank stopped providing direct access to Quicken for Mac users ;-)

The only reason I've shied away from automated payments is that sometimes bills change (my cable bill went up by a few pennies recently), so I'd rather pay bills as I receive them than automate the process. But because I do it all online via my bank's website, it's a snap.

You can easily set up ING to transfer money automatically from your credit union or business account to your ING account, on whatever schedule you like. That's a good automated savings technique.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:29 am
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Location: Portland, OR
The electric orange does support scheduled online bill pay, so a lot of this automation shoul dbe available if you open an electric orange account with ING (their online checking account, which conveniently earns interest).


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:09 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:29 pm
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I don't have car or mortgage payments, but I think everything you want to do is feasible.

I would create one ING Savings and one ING EO (checking equivalent). The simplest way (with the highest interest) would be to set up an automatic transfer from your non-ING accounts to ING:S early each month so that it can earn as much interest as possible. You do this through ING's website.

Next, setup a transfer from ING:S to your EO account a day prior for each of your bills (these transfers are instantaneous, but caution never fails). I would do several transfers instead of one lump sum. $100 for car, $200 for mortgage (don't we wish). That way if your bills aren't due on the same day, it's still earning the higher savings interest.

Now setup EO to transfer money 4-7 days prior to the due date of your bill. For variable payments this is a bad idea, but EO retains all the institutional information and it's an easy drop-down, type, and enter for payments (to credit cards, for example). Doing variable bills this way will let you double check your automatic ones too (a must)!

In emergencies, remember to transfer money to EO first since the hold time is 2 days, whereas funds are not available for 5 through ING:S. Through this system you should capitalize on the higher interest rates in the savings account, automatically (and instantaneously) pull enough money to the checking, and pay your non-variable bills without much hassle.


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 Post subject: Re: Online Billpay, etc.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:41 am
Posts: 8
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
jdroth wrote:
My car insurance now sends me an e-mail reminder two weeks before the bill is due. I simply pop onto the web site and pay by hand. I would love to automate this, but I don't know if it's possible. (State Farm is the carrier.)

In my ideal world, I would set up Wells Fargo to automatically push money from the business account to either my credit union or to a new ING Direct account once each month. This second account would then distribute the money automatically, without any interference on my part.

In the past, this sort of thing wouldn't have been feasible for me. I lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Now, though, I have a cushion, and this sort of automation really appeals to me. How many of you have done this? Does it work well? Any tips?


ING Direct's Electric Orange checking does free automatic billpay. They don't give you a check book, and actually they come right out and say that if you gat 3rd party checks drawn on the ING Direct checking account, they won't honor them.

I just set this up 2 months ago, and it's really working well for me.
* I pay my State Farm car insurance automatically each month on the 28th. Because State Farm is a large biller, ING Direct pays them electronically.
* Same with my Cox cable.
* Rent for my apartment and storage unit are sent out as paper checks (for free).
* With EO, you get a check card, so my Cingular account charges that, since it varies from month to month.
* My electric company pulls the payment out each month as an auto-draft. They required a cancelled check to start that service, and ING has a solution for that.
* My apartment is cleaned by a friend of mine, and she is paid with an ACH deposit directly into her checking account, initiated from my ING EO account.

I've been liberated by the freedom this provides. I travel a lot for my job. Because of my ADD and bad money management in the past, I was frequently late paying bills, and not being home for up to a week at a time didn't help things. This makes things SO much easier. I literally set everything up from a coffee shop in Hawaii (except for the electric company auto-draft, which had to be mailed). I had to change how much I sent to State Farm due to a change in premium ($16/mo extra in my account), but other than that, it has worked flawlessly.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:28 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
I can't speak to your specific combination of bank & credit union, but I prefer to enter one-time payments manually each month. My mortgage is the only payment I have that is the same amount, as all the others vary by a little bit. I feel more in control with manual payments and I can also see when I should expect the next statement/bill in the mail.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:17 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:19 pm
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Location: Portland, OR
I agree with TinyHands. When I get my bills, I log in to my credit union, and set up a payment. It doesn't take any more than 5 seconds per bill, and it ensures that I know where the money is.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:39 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 6:27 am
Posts: 106
Location: USA
Thirding the self-directed online billpay.

For accounts in which my payment is the same each month (student loans, car insurance, etc), I allow an automatic direct withdrawal. For all my utilities, however, I select a payment date via my credit union's billpay.

(My apartment complex won't take anything but checks, so I just walk over there when I need to deposit those. I could send a check via billpay, but then I wouldn't get a receipt from the office.)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:50 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:17 am
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With the exception of our credit card bills, whose balances vary month to month (we pay in full every month), we have EVERYTHING automated. And even for CCs, we schedule via online bill pay when the bill comes in. Though NetBank doesn't have the ability to automatically pay the FULL amount due for electronic CC bills (only the minimum or a specified balance), I'm hoping ING EO does. Can anyone comment on that? That would be ideal. (Back in the day I used paymybills.com, and they had that feature, but also charged 10 bucks/month for the service!)

Generally speaking, there are 3 types of automation we use:

For "push payments" - where the amount is the same every month or year, which includes mortgage, student loan, car insurance, life insurance, etc. - we use NetBank's bill pay (but looking forward to switch to ING Electric Orange).

For "pull payments" - where amount varies month to month (utilities, cable TV - varies only when we do PPV, of course) - we set up direct debit with the companies.

For "auto-pay based on the electronic bill" - the cell phone bill comes to mind - NetBank automatically pays full amount of bill after it's been received. I'm assuming (hoping) ING EO will do the same.

I keep a close eye on our finances, but this automated system works GREAT.

My wife and I each have separate (local bank) checking accounts for "spending" money - groceries, cash, dining out, etc. - so we rest assured that our primary shared account cranks along, paying all the bills automatically.


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 Post subject: Love me some billpay
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:57 pm
Posts: 15
Location: Oakland, CA
I have all my bills (with the exception of rent) on auto pay and it's great.

When I first financed my car and started having car payments and insurance deducted every month, it was a financial turning point. I had to have the money to pay them. I've adopted the same mentality for all my other expenses and automatic bill paying has been really helpful.

I intend to have my IRA contributions and other savings automatically deducted as well!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:26 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:58 am
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a side note but... why are you paying your car ins. monthly? After reading the post I called State Farm and they told me it cost an extra $3 a month fee if you pay monthly by check (plus the money for stamps), and $1 monthly fee if you have $ deducted electronically from your acct.

If you set up a monthly transfer to a high yield savings and pay every 6 months, you will save $ 12- 40 plus earn intrest at 4.5%.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:33 am 
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Sandycheeks, I'm in transition. I used to be charged $3/month for the paper bill. Then I switched to the $1/month for electronic payment. Part of the reason to automate things is to get the point where I can pay every six months! :)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:58 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:50 am
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Location: Maple Valley Washington
I bank using Washington Mutual and their free bill pay is perfect for what you want to do. You can pay everything online even if you're paying someone like the babysitter. I have automatic payments set up to pay my mom back for a personal loan. Every friday it moves money from my general checking account to another checking account, mails her a check that comes out of my account immediately (No waiting for the check to clear). I don't even have to think about it. I have the same set up for my mortgage, every friday WaMu takes out 1/4 of my payment and moves it into a separate account. The only bad thing is that it isn't an ING account, but you could set up to automatically transfer money to the ING account every week/month or transfer money from the ING account to your WaMu account. They have the best (FREE) online bill pay service I've found so far.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 12:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:03 am
Posts: 872
Location: Taishan, Guangdong, China
JPeteQ wrote:
I bank using Washington Mutual and their free bill pay is perfect for what you want to do. You can pay everything online even if you're paying someone like the babysitter. I have automatic payments set up to pay my mom back for a personal loan. Every friday it moves money from my general checking account to another checking account, mails her a check that comes out of my account immediately (No waiting for the check to clear). I don't even have to think about it. I have the same set up for my mortgage, every friday WaMu takes out 1/4 of my payment and moves it into a separate account. The only bad thing is that it isn't an ING account, but you could set up to automatically transfer money to the ING account every week/month or transfer money from the ING account to your WaMu account. They have the best (FREE) online bill pay service I've found so far.


WAMU has a 5% online savings offer. Higher rate than ING, instant transfers -- don't know why you would pick ING over that.


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 Post subject: Take aim (at foot), fire!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 5:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:19 pm
Posts: 15
I have been burned in the past, auto-pay of any sort is a bad idea in the range of suicidal insanity. I only do it for low-value services I need and at that I send them to a dedicated separate account via a debit card. If you absolutely must do this, however, most Checkfree-operated payment systems allow you to set up a repeating payment on your choice of date. Read the instructions for your accounts online-payment systems. If you use the stand-alone Checkfree service, you can link to multiple checking accounts and specify which payments come out of which account.

I recommend that you just set up online payment, and trigger the payments manually when you need them. On all the systems I am familiar with, you can set payments at future dates, so if you are going to be out of town, you can target payments ahead of time without the risks of repeating systems.


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