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So let's say I was going overseas for a month, be it personal or for work or whatever. In that time I'm going to inevitably get bills and my question is... how do people normally deal with that?

If I'm billed a recurring amount each month I could just pay double now and hope that that extra amount gets credited to my account. This, however, does assume that I have the ability to do that and if I got paid on a weekly or bimonthly basis or whatever that might not be the case. ie. just because you can't pay a month early doesn't mean you can't pay on the actual due date.

If the billing amount is variable I guess I could just pay 3x my current bill and hope that that extra 2x amount covers me for next month and leaves me some credit for next month to. But that approach, too, makes certain assumptions about my financial situation.

I could have a neighbor or a friend open my bills for me and tell me what they are and I suppose I could pay from my laptop, overseas, but I might not want my friends opening my mail.

How have ya'll dealt with this?

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Maybe you should tell us where you live, there might be some differences between countries. –  Relaxed Feb 23 at 21:36
    
I'm in the USA. –  tiffanyvuitton Feb 23 at 23:26

7 Answers 7

Most of my bills are setup to be paid with direct debit, so I only need to tell the bank if I wish them not to be paid. Others I set up with standing orders.

I can’t understand one anyone would have a recurring bill and not have use the tools that banks have provided for the last 30 years to automate the payment of them.

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If you haven't already done so, switch to electronic billing (get your bills delivered by email). This saves on paper, creates a history of your billing and allows you to get your bills anywhere you are.

I'm in Australia, so things may be different in the US, but pretty much all utilities here do electronic billing, and indeed many charge extra if you want old style paper bills.

Paying the bills should be no trouble. Just use your credit card to pay online. We also have a system called bpay which let's you pay bills from your online banking, so you may have something like that.

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If all else is not possible (variable amount to pay and no way to know how much without the letter in the mail and no one to read it to you).

Then you should call the company receiving your money and tell them you will be on holiday for a month and may miss the due date. They will then be able to extend the due date and/or let you pay a part earlier. Depending on the service they may even suspend the service during the time you are away.

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Just to add to the answers: Royal Mail in the UK provides a service called Keepsafe.

Going away? Don't advertise your absence with a pile of mail building up on the doormat. With Keepsafe™, you can enjoy a carefree break. Our team will hold on to your letters and parcels for up to 66 days and deliver them once you’re safely home again.

If someone knows of an equivalent service in the US, please chip in.

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If your providers doesn't support electronic bills, but they give you the possibility to give alternative correspondence address, you can use that possibility.

So your private mail will remain private, but all bills could be sent to trusted friend or family member, which you could call and ask how much you have to pay, and make bank transfer via internet.

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We are getting as many of our bills as we can set up for electronic billing and our major motivation is to support travel, not to save paper. I would say essentially all of our "regular" bills (phone, electricity, credit cards) have emailed or go-check-online bills.

Those that don't, for us, meet all four of these criteria:

  • they don't come every month
  • I know the amount (or can approximate it)
  • they are not particularly personal or confidential
  • they are billed well in advance or are understanding about being late

For example, my property taxes. Twice a year, and barely change. But I could probably pay them 3 months late without much consequence. The annual payment for my house insurance. Maybe I can't be 3 months late, but I can probably wait a month from when the bill comes and not be late. If I need whoever is getting my mail for me to open the house insurance bill and tell me the amount, it's not going to be embarrassing the way a credit card statement might be.

It takes a while to get everything converted over, so start sooner rather than later and keep a list of those bills that don't come very often, so that you know what might happen while you're gone.

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Most large companies for electricity, phone and the like in countries that I've lived in (NZ, SA, USA, Canada, UK, Aus) all permit direct debit. The idea is that you sign a form from them, or your bank, which gives them permission to withdraw directly from your bank account.

This way they still send you the bill so you have a record of what it's for, but on the due date, they automatically withdraw from your account.

The result - everything happens automatically while you're away, and you can always log into your internet banking from overseas (you may have to set this up with your bank if you've not done so) to confirm that everything has gone through fine.

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Alternatively, many banks will permit you to set up scheduled payments to specific companies. –  keshlam Feb 23 at 7:17
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Another alternative, for companies allowing that, is to pay bills from internet. You just have to periodically check your personal account on the company website. –  mouviciel Feb 23 at 9:38
    
@keshlam For a scheduled payment, you need to know the amount in advance; for direct debit, you don't. –  David Richerby Feb 23 at 10:14
    
@mouviciel Yes, but I'd test this beforehand if I were you. Sometimes banks panic if they see you accessing your account from a foreign country and think it's not you and freeze your account. –  starsplusplus Apr 4 at 11:02

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