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Autopay: the inflexible way

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I have a couple regular payments made through an autopay method. I’ve had no serious problems, but I have to admit that I don’t like them much.

In David’s recent blog on autopay, I have to agree with most of what he says. I’ve never had an incidence of increasing payments without prior notice from the company in question, or from other companies with whom I’ve not okayed an autopay, but it’s just not something that works well for small business owners like me.

I have a few autopay bills – both my car and life insurance payments are taken from my account each month, plus one or two others. Fortunately, those payments pretty much fall on the same days each month, give or take 24 hours in either direction. That’s good, since that’s the only option for those payments. But as David noted, every creditor I have wants me to go autopay and I won’t even begin to consider it.

For a typical month I never know how much I’m going to make. Most things average out, plus I have at least one regular monthly check for one of my long-term writing contracts, but publishing, like woodworking, operates on getting assignments and contracts, and the money doesn’t come until the assignment is completed or the contract fulfilled. That rarely occurs on a regular basis – some months see several checks arrive back-to-back; others not so much – but those autopay deductions are satanically regular. They, and the creditors pushing them, don’t care about my monthly situation.

And that just doesn’t work for me. On one of those slow-check months, I’m sometimes forced to wait till the exact payment date and pay online, just to allow time for an expected check to arrive. An autopay occurring before check arrival, even by as little as 24 or 48 hours, would throw my checking account into chaos. That’s how close I sometimes have to operate my finances, and I suspect many of you do the same.

If I had a Real Job, one where someone else makes all my decisions for me and paychecks arrived on specified dates, autopay might make a great deal of sense and offer a tremendous amount of convenience. But I don’t.

Of course, your mileage may vary. I’d be curious as to how some of you small business folks handle autopay, and what effect it’s had on your businesses.



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