Last week I went to the local post office to mail a gift to a friend. I don't visit my post office very often since I usually only mail greeting cards, invitations and the occasional out of town gift. I couldn't help but notice how many people were waiting in that line with a handful of bills that needed postage. Some were even requesting priority or overnight envelopes to make sure their payments arrived in a timely manner. I thought to myself, do these people not know about online banking? Do they not have internet access? Do they just like the taste of the glue on the return envelopes? Or, are they part of the untrusting group of occasional internet users who have yet to make an online purchase or any other type of financial transaction. Does the fear of the unknown or the miniscule chance that they will become a victim of some type of security breach paralyze them in their old ways of paying the bills?

As my impatience started to grow while waiting in that line I began to imagine my life without my current online banking routine. I thought to myself, it could be worse. I could be here twice a month with the rest of the manual bill payers waiting to buy my stamps or worse yet, needing to pay for expedited delivery because I didn't get that bill mailed out sooner. I started to feel pretty darn lucky, or maybe I was feeling smarter and more adventurous than those around me who, for whatever their reasons may be, still spend too much time and money on paying their bills.

Online banking definitely works for me. First off, there's the postage savings which comes to approximately $52.80 per year based on an average of 10 bills paid per month. This does not include the value of my time that would be spent in line to buy the postage or the gas I burned to get to the local post office.

Secondly, just knowing that I can schedule my payments to be paid on the due date or a few days before the actual due date takes the guessing out of how far in advance I should mail the payments in order to avoid a late payment fee. Late fees can range from $5 to $35 on average and I would not even know that my payment arrived late until I got the following months statement. So having the option of scheduling payments in advance takes the worry out of late fees and increases my comfort level with my monthly budget.

Also, when I use my online banking service I am getting "real time" information when I log into my account. The balance I see includes payments that were sent that day or pending payments that will clear the following day so I know exactly where I stand with my finances at that particular time. No more wondering if checks have cleared or if I forgot to log an ATM withdrawal in my checkbook register. Every transaction is listed and clearly explained which helps to avoid any overdrafts and the fees that go along with them.

My online banking account also offers the option of "going green" with some of my payees. For example, my phone company and electric company provide me with email bills instead of paper bills in my snail mail. So I'm saving trees as well as money by opting out of paper bills and paying them online electronically.

Another way to save money and the environment by using online banking is eliminating or reducing the number of checks written per month. Checks themselves are not usually free, so take into account what a box of checks costs and add that to the other expenses involved and it may persuade you to give online banking a shot. I can't remember the last time I wrote a check to pay a bill or pay for a retail purchase for that matter. All of my grocery purchases are made with my ATM/DEBIT CARD which pulls the money from my checking account at the time of purchase. I save time in line by swiping my card instead of writing a check, showing ID to the cashier and basically holding up everyone else in the line behind me.

Still Writing Checks?

Another benefit of my online banking system is that it allows me to set up automatic savings deposits. I tell it how much and how often to transfer money from my checking to my savings account. This is a painless and simple way to make sure I save consistently every pay period, similar to having a 401K or savings type plan that some employers provide. Of course, the amount and dates of deposit can be changed at any time to accommodate any unexpected budget issues. This system has worked extremely well, helping my savings account balance increase steadily without the need to physically visit my branch office to transfer the funds. This is another example of time savings and gas savings that I now take for granted.

Reduce Your Bill Payind Expenses with Online Banking

So, I'm still wondering how many of you out there take advantage of online banking and how many have yet to take the plunge. The question being, do you "click it" or "lick it" when it comes to paying your bills?