Bill organization includes figuring out how to get your monthly cash flow lined up with your bill's due dates. Let's show you ways to do this below.
Sometimes, the money is just not physically there. Yet.
It's not that it won't be there, but maybe you're not getting paid for another four days, or that reimbursement you were hoping for hasn't come through (but as soon as it does your checking account will be good to go).
But until then it's a bit of a stress-wad because the mortgage is due on day 3 and money from your other account to CYA checking until that paycheck comes takes 3-5 days to show up. It feels like your bill organization is completely out of control.
Ask me how I know?
Our Own Experience Money Finagling
We've all been there.
In fact, just this month I had something happen that made me wonder how to cut through all the time it can take to shuffle money around our various accounts.
Let me break our scenario down for you:
A freelance check in the amount of $450 that was supposed to come in the mail last month never did (turns out it got lost in the mail, so they are reissuing it). Simultaneously, Paul's one day of overtime did not show up in his check, even though he completed it a month ago.
So we were facing a too-close-for-comfort buffer of approximately $200 in checking after the automatic withdrawal of our mortgage.
Adding a little more complexity to the matter, I had been traveling to my brother's wedding so had not started the process of aggregating last month's biz income (which comes into three different biz accounts) into my biz checking so that I could make one income trail into our personal checking account. Each withdraw from my two PayPal accounts takes 3-5 days (but can happen at the same time), and then another 3-5 days to get from biz checking to personal checking (so up to 10 days to get our money where we want it to go).
You can see why I started thinking about different options for money finagling (besides taking anything from our savings, as we treat that place like a black hole). Because if there's one thing I hate, it's banking fees when the reason the money wasn't there was for logistical reasons.
Well, that and when people don't use their turn signals.
Options for Money Finagling
There are some options in these situations, but they might not all be great ones. So let's take a look in case you find yourself in a similar situation:
- Changing Your Due Dates: Several credit cards and other places you owe money allow you to change your due date. This means you want to set a due date that is around a payday so that you're likely to have a good buffer in your account. In a pinch, I'm not sure how long it takes to move the date (as in, can you call that month and have it changed when you're four days away from owing the money? You'll want to make a phone call for that kind of info).
- Doing the Withdraw and Deposit Shuffle: This is for those of us who have multiple accounts at the same bank. For example, my biz and personal accounts are with Chase. You can cut a few days off of the electronic withdrawal time lapse by physically going into the bank (or an atm machine), withdrawing from one account, then turning right back around and depositing it into your other account. This usually takes less time than electronic transfers.
- Overlapping Withdrawals from Account to Account: To be honest, I've never tried this method (though I've thought about it). If you know it takes 3-5 days to get your money to one account, then 3-5 days to get it to another, you would overlap withdrawals on those two different accounts by a day or two and cross your fingers that it doesn't take the full 5 days from the first account to get to the second. I think this method partially hinges on whether or not your second bank account takes “pending” as “money is technically there” in case there is a withdrawal too early from the second into the third account.
- Postdating Checks: One of the Consumerist's readers recently found out the hard way that banks may not have an obligation to honor a postdated check. Who knew? I rarely pay anything with a check, but in case you do, this is valuable information.
In the end, we were fine. I was able to get my income over from my biz account to our personal checking within six days, and not the full 10 that it could have taken. The mortgage came out three days later, and all was well. Even so, it's good to know that there are a few options for money finagling when trying to shuffle between accounts on a deadline.