Going Paperless Can Have Pros and Cons for Chicago Bill Payers

The way your credit card issuer and cable company tell it, you can save a fortune - not to mention the environment - by switching to paperless billing. But while there are certainly benefits to paying your bills online, it's the businesses billing you who stand to do most of the saving by cutting down on paper and postal costs, say Chicago bankruptcy attorneys.

What these companies don't tell you is that there are some potentially pricey problems that can crop up with going paperless, especially if you're in debt. Fortunately, if you take the time to make a careful transition to online bill pay, you can join in the savings.

At first glance, paying your bills electronically seems like a no-brainer. You don't have to buy stamps, there's no need to remember to swing by the post office after work, and you won't go through checkbooks as quickly (heck, maybe you won't even need your checkbook at all).

But if you're not a financially organized person, you might be in for a shock. The first time I went paperless (accidentally, I might add) I mistook my credit card statement as just another junk e-mail from one of my favorite stores. Since it was for a store card that I only use a few times a year, I didn't think twice when a bill didn't show up in the mail that month. I didn't find out that I had missed the payment until I got a notice in the mail seven weeks later - too long to do much about the situation. Needless to say, the late fees and damage done to my credit far exceeded the few dollars a year I would have saved in stamps by going paperless.

Even if I was expecting my statement online, I imagine it would be harder to remember to pay the bills without an envelope to serve as a reminder. But that's why paperless billing can be an excellent excuse to finally get your financial act together. For instance, consider creating a calendar of when bills arrive so you won't miss another payment, ever. Get in the habit of filing your statements each month, either electronically or in an actual filing cabinet - believe me, it's a lot easier than letting them pile up. If you thrive on routine like me, you may choose to go paperless only with regular bills - for example, I know I'll have to pay my health insurance premium, cell phone bill and my main credit card bill each month, so it's easy for me to remember to look for them in my inbox. Also, I have statements sent to an e-mail I use mostly for work and financial related correspondence; since I know every message I receiver there is important, I'm less likely to miss a bill.

In the end, figure out a system that works for you, whether it means going 100% paperless, sticking with snail mail or something in between. And if you can't seem to get a handle on those bills no matter what you do, ask yourself if too much debt may be to blame. At DebtStoppers, our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can determine whether bankruptcy might be your best solution when you give our free personal debt analysis a try.

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