Hassle-free bill paying options for seniors to explore
Let’s face it, paying bills isn’t fun. And this is especially true when you’re trying to build a retirement lifestyle filled with activity and relaxation. If paying bills is not your definition of a good time (or simply not your forte), there are other options available to help you stay on top of your personal financial matters.
We offer some hassle-free steps you can take to ensure your bills are paid and on time.
Switch over to online banking
If you’re comfortable with technology, online banking and bill paying could be the perfect solution for you, especially if you arrange automatic payment for recurring bills like utilities or car payments. You can also set up recurring payments on your credit card, which can allow you to rack up airline miles or points.
Along with online banking, bill paying may go even more smoothly if you ask payees to notify you of bills via email. By adopting these changes, you’ll rarely find yourself worrying about missing a bill—even if you travel for weeks or months at a time.
Eliminate stress with online bill services
Third-party bill paying services like PayTrust ($9.95/month for 25 transactions) allow you to easily consolidate all your bill payments, eliminating the bother of logging in to multiple websites. These bill-paying services receive your bills by mail or electronically, then post them to your account, alerting you when bills are due. Most importantly, they automatically pay bills out of your account on designated dates. PayTrust and the like also let you set rules for each payee, like “pay bill in full” or “pay the minimum due.”
Quicken Bill Pay ($9.95/month for the first 20 bills) is similar to PayTrust, but it offers different features. Although this service works with Quicken personal finance software, it’s not necessary to buy this.
And finally, while most third-party bill paying services are fee-based, MyCheckFree is an exception if you’re looking for a free option.
Work as a team with the family
If online options don’t appeal to you, a family member or trusted family friend can help organize your paperwork, reconcile your checkbook and prepare checks for you to sign. If your adult children live out of state, you may want to consider appointing one as your durable power of attorney (POA), which will allow him or her to pay bills on your behalf.
According to resources found at stepupfinances.com, you can create a system of checks and balances by asking a professional fiduciary (for example, a trust company officer, certified public accountant or attorney) to share the POA duties.
Hire a financial assistant
Finally, you could hire a professional daily money manager (DMM), who typically charges anywhere from $25 to $100/hour, to pay your bills. As well as receiving your bills and preparing checks for you to sign, a money manager can also help to:
- balance checkbooks and organize bank records;
- look for bill errors and call payees when bills are incorrect;
- negotiate with creditors;
- prepare and deliver bank deposits; and
- keep track of medical insurance documents.
DMMs usually aren’t qualified to prepare taxes, but they can organize tax documents and other paperwork to help ensure tax returns are mailed on time and with the appropriate checks.
And don’t forget about due diligence. Make sure to interview candidates first, asking about their fees, training and scope of work, as well as their professional associations and insurance coverage. If you hire a professional, consider limiting the amount of money he or she can access and review bank statements and financial records periodically. You can find a DMM in your area through the American Association of Daily Money Managers’ website.
By the way, moving into a senior living community
is another way to reduce, if not eliminate, bills. Instead of scrambling to pay individual bills like mortgage, taxes, utilities, home maintenance and more, you pay one monthly charge that covers many home-related expenses.
For more information about the benefits of senior living, contact Holiday Retirement today. And for more tips on making smart financial decisions, download our free finances e-book, “Managing senior finances: stepping up to help your parent.”