momready archives

Online Banking

Posted by Elisa Taub
Online Banking

by Elizabeth Rodgers

Cybermom is a regular momready column, where each month Elizabeth Rodgers will write about Lifestyle Technology - technology that goes beyond the personal computer and improves the way you live. 

Here's the deal with online banking: it's secure, easy and essentially, a no-brainer. It's time to start, if you're not doing it already. With online banking you can:
- Pay your bills online,
- Be reminded that it's time to pay your bill,
- Automatically pay your bills,
- Transfer money between accounts,
- Check Your Account Status,
- Order Check/Deposit Slips,
- Download Your Account Activity To Your Quicken-like Software,
- Save Time/Money/Energy.
- AND PAY BILLS.

If you're concerned about security, your biggest area of breach would be at your computer, not the bank. Make sure that you have a router for your Internet connection and that it has a firewall. Still, all of your banking functions are protected by passwords, so not only would someone have to get onto your computer, they would also have to know your passwords. If you do online banking at a computer that is not your own, make sure to sign out, once you have completed your banking.

Nuts & Bolts: Go to your bank's website and find the section about online banking. Since you are already a customer, sign up for online banking and you will be taken through a series of steps that connect your accounts online.

The biggest plus of online banking is paying your bills online. No more checks to write, no more stamps to buy - a lot less time spent doing something that's not so fun anyway. Additionally, you can set up automatic payments so that you'll never miss a due date (car payment, mortgage, gym). But know this: online does not mean automatic (although it can); You still approve bills and how much to pay. You can even set up reminder emails to notify you that a bill is due. (Late fees are annoying, eh?) Another plus is that you can do all of your banking without all of the paper. Think about how many trees you will be saving.

If you go through banks like some people go through strollers, you might prefer an online billpay like Checkfree.com: it's not as complete as your bank's offerings, but can pay your bills this way. So when you switch banks in the summer, all your billing stays the same.

Many banks charge for online billpay. If you search online, it's not so difficult to find a bank that will not charge you. Considering that you are saving them the trouble of having to hire a bank clerk to deal with your money issues, it's the least they can do. Now, if you could just grocery shop online. Oh wait! You can. That's for next month...

Elizabeth Rodgers (along with her husband, Jonathon Fishman) is the founder of Ben's Ranch, a personal and small business technology service company. Elizabeth also writes for television and film.

For more info on Ben's Ranch please visit http://www.bensranch.com.

If you enjoy the column and would like to receive the monthly Ben's Ranch newsletter with even more pithy advice, email: lasso@bensranch.com and put "subscribe" in the subject line.