If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are still paying your bills the same way your parents did, with stamps and envelopes, it may be time to join the 21st century and simplify your life.

By setting up your accounts online and automating your bill payment schedule, you will save several hours a year that you would otherwise spend buying stamps, writing checks and licking envelopes.

How much time does it take to pay your utilities, cable provider, credit card, mortgage and car loan (just to name a few) each month? If you estimate one hour a month, that’s 12 hours per year you dedicate to paying your bills. And that number is probably low. You may be one of the few who enjoy this monthly ritual; if you are, continue to do what makes you happy. But if you’d like to get this time back, I’d strongly urge you to consider enrolling your accounts in automatic bill payment. Auto-pay is an option that will charge either your credit card or bank account, on the date the bill is due or an alternate preferred date within your billing cycle, so that you, the payee, won’t have to do anything. Each month you will still receive a statement to review, either as an email or a hard copy (most accounts will let you decide), but there will be no action required on your end. The one thing you have to keep an eye on is your card’s expiration date – when you get a new card, just make sure to update the payment information for your enrolled accounts.

The majority of utility companies and service providers will allow you to set up automatic bill payment using a credit card or a debit card. I recommend using a credit card because on average, credit cards reward the account owner with 2% of the purchase price in cash back or points. Meaning, if you spend $200 per month on your cable and internet bill, and pay with your credit card, you’ll earn $4 in rewards every month. This may seem like a negligible amount, but consider if you spend $6,000 a year ($500/month) on your utility bills; that would equate to $120 in tax free rewards that you are missing out on, while instead opting to pay for the inconvenience of stockpiling stamps or spend the time logging into each of your individual accounts and paying manually.

We all know that time is our most precious commodity – you can’t buy more of it, and it’s finite. If you set up your accounts to auto-pay with your favorite rewards credit card, not only will you get some of your precious time back, you’ll get paid for it too!

Casey Robinson, CFP®

Wealth Counselor

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