Some facts about me:
- I love Online and Digital Banking
- I rarely visit a branch or ATM
- I have not used paper checks in more than 5 years
- I pay all bills through online banking
- I log into my accounts 2-3/week
- I use multiple checking and savings account to manage our finances
- I only send electronic transfers to family and friends
The last point makes me giggle because some people are so resistant to this one.
Let’s say you and I were equally contributing cash for a gift to a co-worker. Instead of my going to the ATM, withdrawing cash and then bringing you the cash, I would strongly encourage you to accept a cash transfer from me.
For major and even smaller banks, this is a common service. It’s super-easy and all it requires is a checking or savings account with an email address or cell phone number assigned to it.
For each reluctant friend, they always come back excited about how easy the entire process was.
You can also use apps to transfer funds—Venmo, PayPal, SquareCash and others. Please do your homework.
Simplify Your Finances
Online Banking has so many conveniences and features that will save you money and time which simplifies your finances and ultimately, your life.
As of the date of this post, most banks have more services on their full website than you may find on their app.
That being the case, I log into my bank’s website to get more details than I can find on my app but the point is to stay engaged enough so that I’m not caught by surprise at the end of the month.
Below are 3 Online banking services you must use to simplify your finances.
This is a slam-dunk each month. No more chasing down statements or struggling to remember payment amounts and dates. For years now, I have automated payments for all recurring bills and obligations.
We receive eBills each month, which are electronic versions of your statement in lieu of a paper copy. This allows you to keep years of statements without saving one sheet of paper! You can request an e-Bill by following a few simple steps from your bank’s website or app.
Once you receive your eBill, review it for accuracy (I strongly encourage this!) and then schedule your payment. You can use the pay date on the statement or select a custom date which should be prior to the due date to avoid late fees.
For me, I schedule all bills to be paid on the same date each month—2 days after each paydate.
I never run into problems and my goal is to quickly pay all bills to reduce chances of spending the money first! Yep, that’s called staying within the guardrails.
I also set up email alerts from my account to notify me that payments are scheduled to be sent on my pre-selected dates. It’s a reminder that my automated system is working as planned.
You might be wondering how I manage payments that vary each month, like utilities. Well, I have learned to use what’s known as EPP, or an Equal Payment Plan.
Our utilities are the same amount each month based on the last 12 months of usage. If your utility company does not offer this service, you can create a DIY EPP, but check your statement each month to ensure you are paying the minimum required payment.
You can also set up your eBill to pay the minimum required payment found on your statement.
If you are dealing with credit card debt, I suggest auto-paying the minimum payment until you can fully payoff the balance using your debt snowball. Thankfully, we don’t have credit card debt and I look forward to the day that you don’t either!
Because your payment history and statements are stored online, you don’t have to track down checks or receipts to verify payments.
Automate Your Savings
We know how important it is to save for a rainy day, a flat tire, a broken appliance and so many other unplanned expenses!
Make it easy on yourself and automate the payment.
Too often we spend and then try to save. It results in disappointment and disaster.
Get past the hurdle and pay yourself first by using your bank’s transfer feature to set up a recurring payment to move money from your checking account to your savings account.
Don’t over-think it.
Don’t convince yourself that you’ll do it when you have more money.
Do it now!
Check out my post about Emergency Funds—3 Easy Ways to Start Your Emergency Fund.
My first automatic savings was $25 per pay period! Don’t despise small beginnings.
Create Your Spending Budget
Clearly another favorite of mine! For years I used spreadsheets, other websites and apps to track our monthly and annual spending.
Thanks to enhancements to online banking, you can view your spending and set a budget directly from your bank account. Love it!
The convenience of seeing total dollars spent by category are a good indicator of how much money you will spend this month. In other words, you can easily see trends and habits.
If last month you spent $340 for gas, set a budget this month for an equal or close amount. Now you won’t under-estimate your spending which can throw you off and make your budget unrealistic.
I love the ability to see real-time whether we are over or under spending per our budget. It allows for quick behavior changes. Also being able to view spending over time, monthly, quarterly, or annually, is a great feature during tax time.
Simplify – Choose Online Banking
These are just a few features of online banking. In addition to the list above, you can make mobile deposits, access great learning resources, view all accounts in one place, electronic statements and special offers and deals from your bank.
If you are using online banking, what is your favorite feature and how does it make managing your finances simpler?