Autopay: the inflexible way

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.



  • Chuck R says:

    Like most of us, my income varies also. I use autopay only for cable and the like – and then I use it to take the money from my credit card account, rather than my checkbook for two reasons – first I get credit for a few points for using that card – that is a real savings. Second, no matter when they charge the card, I always pay my card in full at the same time of the month. BUT – I would never let ANYONE take money directly from my checkbook except for my wife! 🙂

  • Roger Muller says:

    I got tired of these things hitting my account and having to worry about balances, etc. I just have these autopay accounts hit against 1 Visa card account. Then I pay the Visa bill when it is due and I am in control of the timing.

  • Gene Kelly says:

    I absolutely refuse to accept autopay. Too many variable in my business.

  • Real jobber says:

    I guess you’ve had some bad experience with “real jobs”. I just wanted to say that not all jobs are mindless. Some do require thinking and decision-making. I imagine your life would be much different had you had the fortune of finding a good job early in your career. But then you’d just be working for the man.
    I do like your blogs.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Real jobber —

    Who said “all jobs are mindless?” Not me. Go back and reread.

    I not only had a good job early in my career, but several throughout both of my two very different careers. Not sure what blog you were reading, but I was talking about how having a real job with a regimented pay period might make autopay worthwhile, not that I’d had bad jobs. And, for the record, I would not want my life to be any different; it’s been perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Well, I do wish I’d bought that restored ’57 Chevy 35 years ago when I had the chance…

  • Rich says:

    I agree with Chuck and Roger above. I actually like autopay that goes to my credit card because I earn points on it and pay it in full every month. I have several that goes to credit cards but the only one that goes straight to my bank account is the mortgage with the bank.

  • Has anyone noticed that today’s business model is to serve business and not so much the customer?

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