A reader's son wants her to pay her bills online, but she has a darn good reason not to.
Question: I just turned 50, so I must be officially old. My son came home from college and picked up the mail — and he was horrified that I still receive my credit card statements on paper, and then mail back a paper check.
My son insists I should sign up for online statements and payments. I’m not computer illiterate, but I like paying the old-fashioned way. I think it keeps me on budget — I pay off my three cards each month and run up my reward points balances.
I’m afraid if I set up automatic online payments, I’ll start spending more on my cards without really noticing it. I’ve seen this happen with my son. Am I right about this, Howard? Or am I just another old person trying to justify why she doesn’t want to embrace technology?
— Sandy in North Carolina
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
Let me just say I’m closer to your age than your son’s, and I “embrace technology” every day by overseeing Debt.com. Yet I, 99-percent endorse the way you pay your bills.
For starters, you’re not alone, Sandy.
“93 million credit card holders are still receiving financial statements through the mail,” says a CreditCards.com report from last month. “That includes 43 million who prefer to only receive and review their monthly financial statements on paper.”
My 1 percent reservation about paying by mail is summed up by CreditCards.com analyst Matt Schultz…
With fraud and ID theft rampant around the country, if you’re only checking your credit card and bank statements once a month, you’re not being diligent enough. It’s a good idea to check those accounts online at least once a week.
Identity theft is a huge problem, affecting more than 12 million Americans each year. So I suggest you set up online accounts to monitor your credit card purchases mid-month, but still pay the bills via mail.
As for me, I pay my bills online. However, I care less about how someone pays their bills than making sure they pay on time. With credit card interest rates hovering around 15 percent and late fees at around $25, it’s more important to be timely than high-tech.
One of the best ways to use the Web is through a “personal finance manager.” These online tools let you automatically monitor your bank and credit card accounts, then draw up a spending plan and watch it ebb and flow in real time. Best of all, they’re free.
My favorite is PowerWallet, which is why they’re a Debt.com partner. Check it out, Sandy, and you might just be able to turn the tables on your son — and show him some helpful tech he didn’t know about.
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Published by Debt.com, LLC