Managing Your Expenses: 11 Bills You Should Never Put on Autopay
In our fast-paced world, automating bill payments has become a popular choice. It’s a convenient way to ensure you never miss a due date and avoid those pesky late fees. However, it’s important to note that not all bills are created equal, and putting them on autopay may not be the best strategy for your financial well-being. In this article, we’ll discuss 11 types of bills you should never put on autopay to protect your finances and make the most out of your money.
Cellphone Bills: A Data-Driven Dilemma
The Perils of Unlimited Plans
If you have an unlimited cellphone plan, setting up autopay might seem like a no-brainer. It’s convenient, and you never have to worry about your plan getting cut off due to missed payments. However, even with unlimited plans, there’s a lurking danger. These plans often come with fluctuating data usage charges, which means your bill can change from month to month. Putting your cellphone bill on autopay might lead to unexpected overdrafts and bank fees if you’re not closely monitoring your statement.
Inconsistent Billing Dates
Additionally, not all cellphone plans have fixed billing dates. Some operate on a monthly cycle that varies depending on the number of days in the month. This unpredictability can catch you off guard, potentially causing financial stress. With autopay, you’re less likely to inspect your cellphone bill closely, making it easier to miss billing errors and overpay.
Utilities and Variable Expenses: Fluctuations and Overdraft Risks
Fluctuating Utility Bills
Utility bills, including water, gas, and electric, often fluctuate monthly based on your usage. Automating these payments can be risky, as you might be caught off guard by high bills and face overdraft fees. Setting up one-time payments each month encourages a more hands-on approach to reviewing your statements and identifying any unusual increases in usage or billing errors.
Detecting Hidden Issues
For instance, a sudden spike in your water bill could indicate a hidden water leak in your house. If you rely on autopay, you might not notice this issue until it has caused significant damage, both to your home and your bank account. By reviewing your bills regularly, you can identify and address such problems promptly.
Gym Memberships: The Price of Inactivity
Gym memberships can be a great way to stay fit and healthy, but they can also be a financial trap if you’re not diligent. When you put your gym membership on autopay, it can easily become a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” This might lead to a situation where you’re paying for a membership you rarely use.
On the other hand, if you opt for manual payments, you’re more likely to evaluate your gym usage and make an informed decision about whether it’s worth continuing the membership.
Cable and Satellite Bills: Hidden Costs and Price Increases
Cable and satellite bills are notorious for their variability, especially if you regularly purchase on-demand content. Automating these payments can make it easy to overlook extra service charges, price increases, or unused channels.
Paying your cable bill traditionally, by check or one-time online payments, offers the opportunity to review your bill thoroughly. This helps you stay on top of the costs and assess whether you’re getting the best value for your money.
Video Streaming Services: Don’t Double Up
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu offer convenience, but they can lead to unnecessary expenses if you’re not careful. If you have cable, you might already have access to some of the content these streaming services offer on demand. Setting up autopay for streaming services may result in paying for redundant content.
To avoid wasting money, it’s essential to periodically evaluate whether you’re fully utilizing these services and consider whether they’re still worth the cost.
Music Streaming: Don’t Overspend on Silence
Music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music can be great for music lovers, but they can also become a financial burden if you’re not actively using them. When you set up autopay for these services, you risk paying for a subscription you no longer need or use.
If your music streaming habits change over time, remember to cancel your subscription to avoid unnecessary charges.
Beauty Boxes: A Glamorous Trap
Several beauty brands offer beauty box subscriptions that provide a monthly assortment of beauty products to sample at home. While these subscriptions may seem relatively inexpensive, they can add up over the year. Autopay might lead you to overlook the cumulative cost of these subscriptions.
Instead, consider setting up manual payments to ensure you’re getting value for your money, as you may only use a fraction of the products in your beauty box.
Newspaper Subscriptions: Reading vs. Paying
Subscribing to a newspaper, whether in print or digital format, can be a fantastic way to stay informed. However, if you don’t regularly read your newspaper, setting up autopay can result in paying for a service you don’t use.
Opting for manual payments encourages you to cancel the subscription when it’s no longer beneficial to you, saving you money in the long run.
Credit Cards: Stay in Control
While many experts recommend automating credit card payments to avoid interest charges and debt accumulation, there’s a counterargument worth considering. Manually paying your credit card bill each month offers an opportunity to review your spending and detect any unauthorized or erroneous charges.
By reviewing your credit card statement before payment, you can ensure that every expense is legitimate and take immediate action if you identify any fraudulent activities.
Medical Bills: Error-Prone Charges
Medical billing errors are common, and autopay can lead to overpaying for services. It’s best to review your medical bills carefully before making payments. Setting up manual payments allows you to catch any discrepancies and avoid overcharges.
Annual Payments or Subscriptions: Avoid Financial Surprises
If you have annual subscriptions or services, like Amazon Prime or Costco memberships, it’s advisable not to set up autopay for these expenses. Annual bills can catch you off guard, even if you’re an organized person. Automated payments might deduct funds when you least expect it, potentially resulting in overdraft fees.
Opt for manual payments to maintain better control over your finances and avoid unexpected financial surprises.
In conclusion, while autopay can be a time-saving and convenient way to manage your bills, it’s crucial to be selective about which expenses you automate. Some bills, like cellphone plans, utilities, and subscriptions, can lead to financial surprises and unnecessary expenses if not monitored closely. By opting for manual payments for these specific bills, you’ll have better control over your finances and avoid potential pitfalls. Make informed choices to safeguard your financial well-being and ensure you’re getting the most value for your money.