I even pay down my credit cards completely, to avoid interest charges. You may recall that I charge everything possible, so I can collect reward points with which I can buy vacuum cleaners I won't use and spices I don't like.
But they're free, so you can't beat the price.
Still, even though I have the money, I hate the day I pay my bills. It's like tax day, every month. Who likes to pay the piper? Nobody, and he charges too much.
Until recently, my bill-paying system was working fine, but lately my Visa card has been getting declined left and right, which is always a nice moment, especially in a crowded grocery store. You really don't want to be the person saying, "I'm sure I paid that."
Nobody believes you.
They're all thinking, "No way she paid that."
And then you get to say, "I have another card."
But everyone is thinking, "That one won't work either. She might be a crack addict. Look at her hair. Also I think she slept in those sweatpants."
So this happens enough times that I have had a few cranky calls with my Visa card company, which seems not to have made my acquaintance, though I've sent them a small fortune each month for 15 years. They say they keep declining the cards because my payments were respectively one, one, and two days late for the last three months. The fact that we've been together forever doesn't matter.
I've divorced men for less.
And the Visa card company isn't the only bad husband.
I keep getting notices that threaten to turn off my electricity, and I don't understand that either, because I paid that bill, too. So I looked again at the last bill and realized that I got it about 30 seconds before it was due. I was late to pay it before I even received it, which might be a land-speed record for financial shenanigans.
Finally, when I was about to get my bunion surgery a few months ago, I actually learned that my health insurance was in default because it hadn't been paid in two months. But I knew I paid that. And it turned out that for a reason the insurance company can't explain, my bills get sent to me every two months, not every month, and if I happen to miss paying a bill, which does happen from time to time, I am already two months behind. Don't ask me why they don't send it monthly, but it's one of the reasons I hate my health insurance company.
And so does everybody else.
I tell my friends these troubles, and they say that I have to pay my bills more often, as soon as they come in, and that online bill pay will make this easier. So I go to my bank's site, and it tells me it needs my Social Security number, my account number, and my Visa check-card number. But I don't have a Visa check card, and the fine print says that, if you don't have such a card, call a certain phone number, which I did. Then, the mechanical operator asked me for my user name, which I didn't know, and my telephone bill-paying PIN, which I didn't have.
So I hung up.
I'm going to print out a bunch of checks right now, so they'll be ready when the bills get here. I will stand at the mailbox like a dog and pay each bill the moment it arrives. I will pay for lights I haven't turned on yet and shoes I haven't even seen in stores.
I will turn every day of my life into tax day.
William Wordsworth said the world is too much with us, and he was right.
He didn't have online bill pay either.
Look for Lisa's new novel, "Come Home," and Lisa and Francesca's book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter." Visit Lisa at scottoline.com.