I HATE to Automate!

…and now I’m aware that rhymes…hmph.


I know I’m opening a huge can of worms with this one, but I’ll completely stand behind my theory.

First, let me say that I agree with AUTOMATING YOUR SAVINGS. It’s something I make sure to do myself – retirement and emergency savings are automatically pulled out of my paychecks so that I never see the money. However, payments of any sort are made manually.

Many personal finance people (of all kinds) sing the praises of automation and it drives me a little bit crazy. I get that “out of sight, out of mind” works for some people, but it doesn’t for me. I think if you want to see where your money is truly going – bills and all – you need to actually make the effort to pay the bill or spend the money.

You’ve probably seen a lot of the reasons behind why some suggest that automating your bills is the favorable way to go – if not, do a little bit of general blog searching and I’m sure that you will find a plethora of reasons to automate your bills!

Here are a few of the reasons I avoid automating my own bill payments:

  • Changing amounts & due dates – Very few of my bills are ever due on the exact same day of each month. One month my car payment is due on the 15th, then the following month I will notice it’s due on the 17th. For amounts, the amount due on my credit cards change each month as well. Since they are not constantly the same, I’d be terrified to put those on an auto-pay status.
  • I take time each day to look at my bank account – I’m aware of the daily balance of my bank account and I don’t like surprises. If I automated my bill payments, I’m sure I would forget that I had already set the payment and be horrified to see an amount debited from my account.
  • I pay bills when I get them – As soon as I get a bill in the mail (or by email), I do my best to pay it immediately. Once I pay the bill, one of my favorite things to do is just run it through the shredder (or hit that delete button ceremoniously) – just my way of waving it “bye-bye” for that month. If I can’t pay it immediately, I put a reminder on my Google calendar and/or in my paper planner – either way, I’m not likely to forget it. I also keep a spreadsheet with my bills listed so that I’m less likely to miss one – and I make it a goal to delete bills from that list, rather than add to it.
  • I feel less mindful/less in control of my money – I prefer to be mindful & make the choice to see where each dollar is going. My income and expenses do change frequently, so I feel more in control when I’m making the choice to spend my money on bills.
  • I think it “hurts” more to see the money go – I know that if I automated all of my bills, I’d be more likely to forget that one had been debited and I would probably fall into consistent overdraft land again – who wants that?! I know the whole concept of creating a “buffer” for my checking account, but I’m not there yet. I also think I would miss out things like remembering an annual fee being charged or other one-time related fees.

I’m open to changing my mind in the future, but for the time being, I think manually paying my bills is the way to go. I know there are people on both sides of the fence on this issue, so I’m curious to here about what you guys think!

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt*

Where do you stand? Are you a “set it & forget it” type? Or do you do it all yourself?

15 thoughts on “I HATE to Automate!

  1. I have some automated–power, water, gas, netflix, newspaper come to mind, but credit cards? No way. I want to check those bills before I pay them and I want to make sure there is money in the account to pay them.

  2. I agree with you…I don’t like automated payments very much myself. I like to do it all and be completely aware/in control of my bills.

  3. I see where you are going and I like it. I am somewhere in between automation and direct control. I automate the task I feel are of low importance and strongly engage the tasks of most importance. 80/20 principle at work.

  4. I’ve automated a lot of bills, but I definitely don’t automate any credit card payments, for the reasons you outlined. I want to watch those bills carefully to make sure that nothing unexpected shows up that I need to dispute.

  5. I do automate all of my payments, just because I know I would miss a payment otherwise, I’m pretty disorganised most of the time! But I still check my bank every few days and make sure those payments have gone out. That way I can track my spending and keep on top of how much is in the bank!

  6. I don’t actually like automation either. I’m a fan of just paying the bills as I get them. I also feel more comfortable knowing I won’t overdraft that way, since I tend to keep a really low checking balance and transfer right into savings or investments.

  7. I completely agree, ESPECIALLY with your last 2 points. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a very bad thing when it comes to money; this is the reason people need personal budgets to realize where their problems or future problems lie. Not even my rent is automated, and I know where every dollar goes. Without this kind of control over my own money, I would feel helplessly lost.

  8. Great article. I would also like to hear how this issue is viewed by age. 20 something’s vs 40 somethings. Seems we keep being ‘encouraged’ ‘bribed’ ‘nudged’ to automate but keep hearing about security breaches to the max.

    I feel comfortable seeing my money and paying manually. But, recognize there benefits to automation.

  9. I automate a few things that don’t change month to month. Mainly rent, car payment, electric (it fluctuates by a few bucks each month), and my debt payments. I totally get the argument for not automating- if you’re not diligent, it’s easy to overdraft or pay a company for some additional fee you were unaware of.

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