Setting up automatic payments is a convenient way to stay on top of bills every month. It can save you time and money, but for expenses that fluctuate or creep up, you may want to skip it. Consider manually paying these four expenses.
Certain Cell Plans
Unless you have an unlimited cell plan, it may not be wise to put the payments on autopilot. If your kids love downloading the latest games, ringtones or music, you could get hit with an unwelcome surprise at the end of the month. If you don’t have enough in the bank to cover it, you'll incur some hefty overdraft fees. To put this in perspective, a Nielsen survey found that teens send or receive, on average, more than 3,300 texts per month.
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When it comes to utilities, like water or electricity, making manual payments allows you to keep better tabs on energy usage. With automatic payments you might neglect to see a spike in the water bill and recognize, say, there’s a leak under the sink.
How often are you really hitting the gym or yoga studio? Studies show we tend to overestimate how many times we’ll really work out each month. In fact, researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that members who opt for an unlimited monthly contract pay, on average, $70 and attend fewer than five times each month. By automating your fitness membership, it’s really easy to lose track of whether you’re really getting your money’s worth. It may be cheaper to buy a five- or 10-class package that never expires.
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Finally, subscriptions, from magazines to beauty sample boxes, can turn into sneaky, forgotten charges when we automate the renewals. A study by Billguard.com, a service that tracks your payments for free, found that “cost creep” is a top billing concern with subscriptions that often goes unnoticed. Instead, restart the membership yourself when the company sends you the notice. You can take a moment to consider the costs, plus you’ll notice if the rates increase – even an extra few dollars in those service charges add up quickly.
What bills do you prefer to pay manually? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.