One of my old bad habits was to neglect to pay my bills. I would forget to pay a bill or two. Then I would stop picking up my mail, or stop opening mail because viewing late notices frightened me. Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense when I write it out or when you read it. I would forget to pay a bill because I have an aversion to paying a bill as soon as I get the bill. Why let someone else earn interest on the money before necessary? Yeah, I know. One percent interest on $54 for an extra week is hardly worth paying the late fee. I would also forget to drop the envelope in the mail when I did write the checks out. They would sit, buried in my bag until I dug them up when I got the envelope that must contain the late notice (which I never opened). Or I'd put the bill in a stack of stuff on my desk or on the coffee table and I would forget.
Last year, I started using the online bill paying service that First Tech Credit Union offers. I used Washington Mutuals bill payer service for a couple of months before that, but they charged to use it, and I closed my WaMu account because they pissed me off in other ways as well. The idea being, as soon as I get the bill, I can enter the payment information into the system, and it sends the payment off at the appropriate time. All problems solved. From May '01 to July '02, I wasn't late with a single payment because of my neuroses. A couple of payments were messed up due to the bill payer, and a couple were posted to the wrong account by the payees. But those were all mostly corrected.
So I went on this trip to Vegas at the end of July. When I got back, I picked up the stack of mail that had accumulated during my absence. There were several bills there, but I didn't immediately get to the bill payer web page and enter them. Then I didn't grab my mail for another week. That stack I didn't look at either. I knew a couple of payments would be late then and so I didn't look at the next couple of batches cause I figured there would be late notices in them.
This morning, I decided enough was enough. Dug through the last batch. Pulled out the two bills that were in it. One for 3 months worth of water bills at my house in Idaho. One for two months worth of phone, cellular, and DSL service from Qwest. I just entered them in. One due today. One due Sunday. Looked at my payee list and saw that there was one other bill on there I should look at. I vaguely remember that envelope in the batch from this morning but thinking it was something else. Luckily, it's my credit card and I can check the statement online. Sure enough, I owe $640 for two months of bills. Got that one entered. Here's where the bill payer service really came in handy though. My mortgage for the house is kept up because I entered in a years worth of payments ahead of time. Same with the less important but still predictable NY Times monthly subscription and my ISP service. My monthly rent I had taken care of through a direct transfer. My landlords also use First Tech, so I can cross-transfer the money directly to them. I have to do that manually, but the neurosis didn't kick in for that. I think because I can deal without a credit card or phone service or water at my house in Deary. Can't deal without a place to live.
In any case, I am all caught up now. Or I will be when the service sends out the checks tomorrow morning.
I feel crappy for having relapsed into this behavior, but relieved that I snapped myself out of it after 6 weeks. In the past, I could go on indefinitely like this and only pay a bill when that company shut off whatever service they provided. And I went over a year before the relapse. Now to go two years at least before it happens again.