Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Cost of Cash

In 2013, I took on an experiment of sorts. I wanted to be virtually cash only, meaning shopping with cash, paying bills with cash, etc...  While there were many lessons that I learned the biggest one was exactly how expensive cash is when it comes to paying bills. Allow me to explain...

Unless you take a bill directly to the payment location of the company (which is cumbersome and some places you can't just walk in and pay your bill) you have to either pay by phone, mail, on their website or do a bill pay through your bank.  If using a credit/debit card, paying by phone or on the website usually incurs a fee in addition to the bill itself. The workaround for this is doing a bank draft, which I didn't really want to do. In most cases, if you pay by phone they will charge you as well. If you mail in your payment using a check, there is the cost of a stamp and your time. If you get a money order, there is the cost of the money order and the stamp. If you pay at a payment center, they will charge you a fee on top of your bill amount. While the fees aren't that much, its more than you need to pay and to me an unnecessary expense. Like throwing money away.

A local store offers no fee money orders and I use them if I'm paying a one time bill. I'm fine with the cost of the stamp because I hate having checks just "out there". I like knowing that the money is already gone.  I've left traditional banks for online banking. While it has its challenges, there is no fee! And that is priceless.

As for the rest of my bills, I'm using online bill pay. It's free and fast. I'll estimate I'll save about $75-$125 in unnecessary fees this year.  So going totally cardless was a bust for bill paying purposes. But there are some other good things about it. More posts on my experience to come!

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