This is not my experience.
Paul does most of the online bill paying, but it seems that due dates fluctuate, banks fail to notify of new bills or error messages, scheduled payments are delayed due to technical glitches, some accounts refuse to participate with online bill pay, etc. I'm not suggesting that we go back to the dark ages of mailing checks around town, nor yet the stone ages of hand delivering bills (well do I remember driving around town with my mother, doing just this).
But certainly things could be a whole lot easier than they are.
For example, budgeting software. Quicken and Money are costly, PC-based, and don't do quite everything I want them to do.
Mint is free and fabulous. Paul and I sit down for budget meetings on opposite sides of the dining room table, each of us with a laptop. One of us has the bank account open, the other has Mint, and we zip through the month's expenses, categorizing and reconciling as we go. (Actually, we each have both windows open so that we're both following along, but one of us takes point with each application.) We can do this anytime, from anywhere, because Mint is online (rather than stored on one of our hard drives). It automatically downloads information from our checking and savings accounts, our credit cards, our student loans, our retirement plans, etc.
Weekly emails tell us our net worth and it's fun to watch this number fluctuate as we pay down debt, increase savings, and our investments go up and down. As you can imagine, it was a real hoot when the real estate bubble popped and we watched the value of our house plummet sixty thousand dollars. Whew.
But we were really unhappy with our bank so we switched to a local credit union that's absolutely fabulous in every way . . . except that they won't work with Mint. So our choices are:
- Move to Quicken and pay a not-insignificant-amount for decreased capabilities (i.e. we have to sit near the PC and only one of us can manage the data at a time) and the lower-end models don't track investments as well as budget stuff.
- Stay with Mint but manually enter dozens of transactions each month from our checking and savings accounts. Shudder.
Neither option sounds ideal to me. How do you manage your household budget?