Grace (Period) Under Pressure
Stop, wait a minute Mr. Postman! Do you have any money for me?
Specifically I am looking for a rent check from my tenants, which is due at the start of every month. But all he has delivered so far are coupons for Capital Pizza and 30 percent off at the Container Store, which of course I’ve kept because, as we keep saying, this is a recession. But I really need my rent check.
My husband and I recently bought a house in Capitol Hill and decided to rent out our condo in Adams Morgan, turning us into landlords for the first time. Don’t get me wrong — our tenants are sweet, wonderful people. But right now, all I care about is getting my money.
They are not the only ones to press into the grace period. I do it too, scheduling payment of my bills to hit the sweet spot right after pay day and just before the deadline. Paul Harrison, general manager of CheckFreePay, which operates nationwide kiosks offering prepaid cards and bill payment, said more customers are choosing next-day bill payment. In 2007, about 11 percent chose next day payment for a range of about 2,000 bills. In 2008, that figure jumped to 13.2 percent. And in the first two months of the year, it went up to 17.4 percent.
“It’s somewhat hard to ignore those statistics when we’re seeing it across the whole business,” he said.
But straddling that line can be dangerous because penalty fees can quickly add up. Some ways that I have tried to insure that my bills are paid on time are:
Set up a monthly alert on my phone — I tried to sign up for e-mail alerts, but I find that they frequently are caught in the spam filter or I tend to delete them with the rest of my junk e-mail. But when the alarm on my phone goes off, it catches my attention.
Automatic payments — I have mixed feelings about this one because I like to control when my money leaves my account. But it’s a surefire way to make sure you’re never late on a bill.
Open every piece of mail — I got into trouble a few years ago because another bank took over as my credit card issuer. I was oblivious and kept throwing out mail from this bank before I even opened it, not realizing I was throwing out my new credit card statement! After battling with a collections agency, I have learned my lesson.
Pay your bills in person — You could trek all the way to DC WASA headquarters. But increasingly, convenience stores and even some retailers have installed bill payment kiosks such as CheckFreePay, which is at Wal-Mart. The fees are also often lower than the surcharge some companies tack on for paying your bill over the phone.
As for dealing with my tenants, my editor proffered this suggestion: Offer them $5 off their rent if they register for automatic direct deposit. Give them an incentive for good behavior! If you all have any ideas to help keep me sane (while getting my money as well), I'd love to hear them.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go check my mail.
Posted by: jgold1 | April 9, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.