Now that you’ve booked or planned your affordable summer vacation, your brain may already be in vacation-mode. Before your mind drifts too far, there are a few things you need to take care of, like bills. The last thing you want to do is come home to a missed bill and a late fee. Paying bills while on vacation is actually very simple these days, and you usually don’t have to deal with it from the road. Take a few minutes before you leave to make sure all your bills are covered while you’re gone.
Make Sure Your Paychecks Will Be Deposited
If your company provides direct deposit, then you don’t need to worry about picking up your paychecks. If your company doesn’t provide direct deposit, give the HR or payroll person a deposit slip and an addressed and stamped envelope. Ask them to mail your deposit when the paycheck is issued.
If you don’t receive paychecks, then arrange for scheduled transfers from your savings account or withdraw enough to cover all your bills before you leave.
Set Up Automatic Payments
Arrange to have your bills charged to a credit card or automatically deducted from your checking account. That will reduce the number of bills you receive and ensure that they’re always paid on time. If you charge them to a credit card on which you don’t carry a balance, you might even earn points or miles for paying bills.
Set Up Online Payments
Some bills can’t be charged or automatically deducted. If your bank offers online bill pay, set up your payments in advance. Set them to pay 2 days before they’re due to be safe. You should also verify that all those bills can be paid electronically. Our auto insurance can’t accept electronic payments, so we set those bills to pay 5 days early, which gives the bank time to mail a check.
If you can’t do any of the above, then pay your bills in advance. This does require that you have the money in your checking account before you leave. If you can’t do that, write the checks out in advance, put them in stamped payment envelopes, and give them to a friend to mail five to seven days before they’re due. You might not be sure of the exact totals of some bills (like the power bill), so use last month’s bill as a guide. I would add $25 to be safe. You can also call the company and ask for an estimate now. If you explain that you’re going on vacation, they’re usually helpful.
Renters – give the landlord a postdated check and inform them of your travel dates.
Remember Your Infrequent Bills
When planning your bill payments, see if you have any infrequent bills, like insurance, that will be due while you’re gone. Choose the best of the above methods to ensure that they’re also paid on time.
Forward Your Bills to a Trusted Friend or Relative
If you’re taking an extended vacation, forward your mail to a trusted friend or relative. You should also set up a second checking account and provide them with the checkbook. Arrange for regular transfers into the second account, or make transfers from the road, so that they can pay unanticipated bills while you’re gone.
The easiest way to forward you bills is to file a temporary change of address with the post office. You can forward mail for six months, and then request an extension up to a year. File your request ten days before you leave to make sure it’s processed in time.
That last thing you want to do is come home to find your power cut off or mortgage payment late. It also wouldn’t be fun to realize you forgot to pay your Visa bill halfway through your safari. To ensure that you have a relaxing vacation, and can stay relaxed after you get home, add paying bills in advance to your vacation packing list.