Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hodgepodge 178/365 - Bill Paying in the Modern World

This morning I joined the modern world a little more fully: I signed up for three more of my regular bills to be paid automatically. 

In Israel, while I was strolling with my new friend Bill, the subject of bill paying came up and I confessed that I like to sit down with my checkbook and the paper statements and pay everything by hand. I like to know what I'm paying. He looked at me like I had two heads and asked, "How old are you, anyway?" (Bill, I might point out, is older than me by a year.)

I believe my Norwegian relatives have been paperless for approximately ever. They don't even have checks anymore.

While I was gone, David paid the bills, so my usual routine of sitting down at the end of the month with a stack of envelopes and paying off the utilities and mortgage was interrupted. That left me with a small handful of bills to deal with this morning, now that it's almost the end of the month again. One comes quarterly, so I'll continue to pay that personally. Another is from a long-distance phone company that according to Wikipedia no longer exists (it's MCI, long since owned by Verizon: but the bill still comes from MCI, with no instructions on automatic payment options . . .). And AT&T, well, maybe next month I'll set that up for auto payment.

This revolution in my life came about specifically because of MCI. Although it gives us long-distance phone service, and it's really not very expensive, I know most people in this modern world have a phone service that includes "free" long distance. Certainly the two or three people in other states whom I have regular phone contact with do, and so I always ask them to call me, because, for them, it is "free." Or at least, no extra charge. But that makes me feel a little childish. I should be able to pick up the phone and call them too, right?

So I was looking into shedding MCI and bundling long distance into . . . something. AT&T, I guess? For free! But the AT&T website convinced me to call customer service to explain my situation (because no, I don't want Internet, or wireless, I just want a land line with a decent rate), but when I called the 877 number, I got a message: The office is closed! Call back later! Granted, it was 7:45 a.m. my time, but still: don't you expect 877 to always be available? I do. Being of the modern world and all.

So there I was, foiled. I continued paying my bills. And when I got to Verizon (wireless), I needed to check an old payment, so went online—and the option of automatic payments was right there in the middle of my screen! And I thought, Why not? It's a regular charge—as in, the same amount every month. I manage to deal with my credit card payment being automatic (that, because it was due out of my end-of-month sync and I kept missing deadlines: it was self-defense against late fees), and that's not a regular charge. Maybe, just maybe, I can do this.

And thus emboldened, I went ahead and signed up for the mortgage and the electric/gas bills to go on autopay as well. 

I feel so adult. 

Plus—and this is the best thing about all this: paperless! Because, yes, I am a member of the modern world. And helping the environment all we can is important.

Now, of course, I'll have more emails to deal with. The price of living in the modern world.

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