Thursday , 21 June 2018

Paying Bills Online: Creating a System

By Carrie Brazeal, TSB Contributor

Do you pay your bills online? It’s hard to remember a time that we didn’t have this option. Can you even remember life without email, webcasts, and internet?

Paying bills online is quick and simple: no checks, no stamps, no mailing, just a few keystrokes. But each account that you pay online has to have a password.  Since every company has different criteria for passwords, having just one password for all accounts usually doesn’t work. Not only would this not be safe, it would also be too easy. Can you imagine just having one password for all your accounts? So this means that you have multiple passwords to remember. Do you have all of your passwords written down in one location? I know that I don’t. I usually rely on memory, which isn’t a good thing! Or I have the password written in a place where it seems logical to me, like on the back of the last hard copy statement that I received before I started getting statements online. Pretty dumb, isn’t it?

This may work for me but it’s a patchwork system at best. Hopefully you have a better system. Having all of your user names and passwords written down in one location along with other pertinent information about your online accounts would make handling your business a lot easier if someone needs to take over for you.  What information would your spouse or children need to handle your online business if you weren’t available? This is the type of information that needs to be recorded and kept in a safe place. It also needs to be reviewed on a regular basis, whether quarterly, every six months or annually, to make sure everything is still correct. Some passwords have to be changed on a regular basis so make sure that your system is up to date. 

My family recently put our system to the test and guess what? It failed. I was trying to pay an account online that my husband had set up. He gave me what was supposed to be the user name and password. Of course, we had waited until the day before it was due to handle this, which is never a good idea. Since he was flying to an out-of-state job site on the day that I was trying to pay it, he wasn’t readily available. I got the account paid on time but it was frustrating and stressful.

But this experience just showed us that we needed a better system in place. We’re in the process now of organizing our online accounts as they are paid so at least we are heading in the right direction. We decided that a small notebook works for us, with a page devoted to each account. We are trying to make it as simple as possible so that one of us or our designated person can flip to the appropriate page and have all information needed to handle that account. It just takes a couple of minutes to write down the needed information. Now we just need to decide where to locate the notebook so that it’s safe and we don’t forget where it is!

Think about your own way of handling online accounts. If your current system isn’t working for you for whatever reason, take the time now to find one that will.  There are lots of options so find something that fits into your lifestyle and will be easy to maintain. You will also gain peace of mind, knowing that your business will be handled if you aren’t available. Now if you can just remember where you wrote everything down!

Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  She may be reached at or 972-424-1460, Ext. 4233. 

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