Monday, 23 April 2012

Keeping a tight grip on finances

Oh dear, my right ear got sunburnt last week :o( It was feeling a bit sore, but I just ignored it. I didn't put any cream on it, now it's gone all crinkly, ha ha.

Today I paid a bill. I went to town, and posted it with a cheque into the banks internal post box. They provide envelopes for doing this, so you don't have to queue for the cashier.

I like paying my bills this way because it makes me feel I'm in control of my finances. I don't care if it's old fashioned, it's how I do it. The bill comes in the post, and I make a note of the date it has to be paid by. Then I make sure I pay it in plenty of time so as not to incurr any penalty charges. I tear off the payment slip and put it in the envelope, then I write on the bill the date it was paid.

This then goes into my file as a receipt, in case I have to query something.

I like to physically hand over the money, or a cheque, to pay for things. I don't like direct debits and keep them to a minimum, because it feels like people are helping themselves to my money. I know this is a bit daft, because I have given them permission, but if you have too many people dipping in and out of your bank account it is very easy to lose track of where your money is going.

It is also very easy to forget how many direct debits you have, and if there is a date mismatch between what goes in and what goes out, you could find yourself not having the funds to cover the payments, even if there might only be a few days difference. The banks are not very sympathetic when that happens, and will make a charge for it. I have never been charged anything by my bank because I keep a close watch on the balance. I have been on the brink of going into the red ocassionally, but have always managed to pull myself back up again.

So to be sure I don't make a mistake, my system is to check my bills, use a highlighter pen to mark the date they need to be paid by, and stick them on the front of my fridge with a magnet so I see them every day. That way they don't get missed. Then when I go to town to pay them, I make sure I have a few other jobs to do while I am there. This system works well for me.

I don't do internet banking because I am afraid that the details of my account could be hacked into. I don't trust the internet where money matters are concerned, and never shop online unless there is no other option.

So what did I have for my dinner tonight. I managed to get a few yellow sticker reduced items on Friday night. The fruit and veg lady is great at Tesco's she knows what I am looking for.

A big plate of steamed vegetables,  a chopped up onion and some mushrooms in a mild curry sauce,  delicious. My kind of dinner.

Toodle pip.


  1. Mmm that dinner looks delish!

    I think as long as you are very organised that is the best way to pay bills. That way you know exactly what's going in and out when. I am not so organised and don't go to town very often, so it wouldn't work for me! (Every time I go to town I am surprised by some new shop or other - what a bumpkin!)

    Hope you had a fab time on your walk!!

  2. Yum what a great looking dinner!
    Thank you for posting your travelogue. It's so much fun to see where you are every day. My husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's day next month and I said I want to walk across England. He said in that case I would have to get in touch with you because he isn't interested!

  3. That's how I use to pay bills but when we retired in 2001 and sold our home, bought a 5th-wheel and truck, and traveled around the country for 3 1/2 years I had to set up online accounts so expenses got paid on time. We never were in one place long enough to be "permanent" so I didn't have any other alternative. We've been settled in a permanent home for several years but I still pay all my utilities, car lease, insurances, etc. online. I've never had a bit of trouble after all these years (knock on wood!!) and it saves me from missing a due date. It's all on Auto Pay every month. I have a notebook and I write down all expenses we're going to have every month and then write it all in the checkbook and deduct everything. There's always unexpected expenses so they are figured in and there are always some that cannot be paid online and have to be mailed. When there's something that needs to be paid that isn't an Auto Pay and I can pay it online, I print out a receipt and it's put in my file box. I reconcile my checkbook at least once a week with the bank statement online. That way I can see if there's been any expenses that I've missed writing in the checkbook. After doing it this way for so many years, it works for me and it's so much easier than having a paper bills sitting around waiting to be paid. I'm sure this isn't for everyone but I'm so use to doing it this way that I don't think I'd ever want to change.

  4. Be careful of your ears - first place skin cancer hits and dont think you cant get it in Lincs - my brother did.

    If you buy anything on line or anywhere that matter use a credit card not a debit card that way you are protected against fraud and dont get your bank account emptied out. I have two credit cards; pay them off every month without fail; never carried a balance.My goal for this year is to go completely paperless. All my banking is done electronically. Here in the States if you are overdrawn even by a dollar your check "bounces" and you get charged an whacking fee so that focuses the mind.
    Do what works for you and what gives you most peace of mind. I replace my electric kettle recently and bought a new one on line - saved me quite a bit and free shipping also; did nt have to get the car out and do a twenty-mile round trip.

  5. I'm an online banker now. But I have been called worse names! :-)
    Hope your ear feels better soon.

  6. I pay most of my bills on line. It works for me. I still like to see my bills on paper though. That is slowly ending as some places are starting to charge for sending out paper bills. Even the bank is charging for sending out statements and it isn't cheap! I went to tell them to stop sending out paper now I have to check everything on line unless I want to pay them.

  7. I'm with MQ on this one, I only pay bills in person at the bank. (or post office)
    I know it's the 'in' thing to do everything online, but having been one of the 'exceptions' who has had money 'taken' from an account, I'll never do it again. This was frm a so called 'protected' site.
    Online theft and fraud is rife, so speaking as one who is £300 lighter ! I'll stick to the old fashioned way !

  8. Don't forget some companies will give you a discount if you pay your bills by direct debit!

  9. As shown here there are lots of different ways to pay your bills. Justine, I refuse to go direct debit with utility bills which fluctuate month by month. I do not want to pay in advance for something that the company will take a guess at how much I use. They often get it wrong, and it is always in their favour. I don't want the hassle of sending them my meter readings, they can send someone here to check them. I have an old fashioned dial electricity meter, I read it once and got it wrong. If they want to replace it with a more modern number meter, I might consider sending the readings online, but I'm still not paying in advance.

    Bryallen, you say you are not so organised. But surely you must have to be organised to set up direct debits, to check bank statements every month, and to cancel direct debits when no longer required. Being disorganised where money is concerned is a recipe for disaster. My bank statements are very easy to read, because there are hardly any entries. I would spot if there was something amiss immediately. A quick glance, yes I know about that, and they get filed.

  10. Hi Ilona, your dinner looked lovely! Glad to have read this, as me and OH were just discussing how our parents handle money differently. My dad goes to town every Monday without fail to do his banking. Pay money in, pay bills, withdraws cash etc. He likes to actually see a person and hand money over to a cashier. He even likes insurance companys that have an actual office that he can go in hand his money over and talk to someone. It seems so time consuming to me, but now I have read your post I'm starting understand his thinking.

    You've reminded me of when we were kids and mum would take us all to town to do her banking pay her bills. Lloyds first, then YEB! Sitting around for what seemed like an age,long queues... bored kids. Poor mum.

    I do agree with you regarding gas and electric. My OH insists on having a DD and paying a fixed amount every month. This we disagree on. The problem is we have ended up being hundreds (yes really) of pounds in credit by the autumn, so they brought our DD right down. Now I have put my meter readings in and we are now in debit! So our bills will be going up to compensate and also to build up credit for next winter. Its all a bit bonkers to me. I would rather pay for what I have used and have my money in my bank account rather than EON's. Debs x

  11. I agree with you about the direct debit and ob-line banking! MY MONEY is MY MONEY and I will decide what I do with it! Once it is taken out of your account, it is not that easy to get it back when there is a mistake on your bill...and there are, often. It is amazing how many people don't even really pay any attention to their bill or where else their money you, I would rather spend less than get another job at my age...keep on your good work!

  12. Tried to pay my gas bill at my bank. As it was in my husbands name they refused to allow me to pay it as HE was not a customer. Stormed out vowing revenge. Cooled down and paid it on line from exactly the same account. Nah. Ashamed to say am still at said bank- the only one in town don't you know.

  13. I was all ready to John's comment and I'm still laughing.
    Jane x

  14. I agree with several that have said they won't direct debit their utilities. I want to see my heating bill, especially in the winter, before it's paid. I don't want any surprises when it comes out automatically and I don't know how much to budget for that month. We use to be on a balanced billing for our heat but dragging out a couple larger bills all year was crazy. I'd rather pay the large bills for a couple months and be done with it. I get an online "bill" notification from my heating company and electric company every month so I can go in and look at the statement before I pay it. I always print out a receipt for every bill I pay online.

  15. I spy spinach, my favourite veg!

  16. Yes, completely agree on the direct debits. I don't have any at all as I like to be in control and not have someone just take money out of my account when they please. One of my friends worked in a hire purchase company where people completely forgot about their payments and would continue to pay, even though they had paid everything off. They'd have to constantly ring and remind them to turn off the auto payments.


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