There are, essentially, three ways of paying your bills:

Online, by check and my way. Let’s examine the pros and cons and square footage of each of these options.

I know that more and more people are paying their bills online because it is faster, easier and you don’t think it’s actually real money that you’re paying. It’s numbers on a screen and sometimes the numbers are big and something they are small and sometimes you can’t move the red Queen under the black Jack.

When you pay online, you are trusting that the person at the other end of the line won’t press the wrong button, misplace your payment and send you each month a trade paperback from the Book of the Month Club which is almost free but doesn’t include $42 worth of shipping and handling.

You can pay online at any time, but generally not three months after the bill is due.

Paying online requires far less paperwork and so is therefore a much “greener” alternative unless you are petrified that you won’t remember what you paid and what you owe and so you print out everything you do and then you can’t find the printouts because you think you did everything online.

Writing out a check, on the other hand, gives you a tangible, easily accessible record of every payment you make, unless your handwriting is totally illegible and the copy of the check you’ve mailed out actually looks like the receipt for a 36-month lease of a monkey.

Check writing also can be reasonably “green,” particularly if you use green ink, which goes very well with light beige checks and stands out from all those mundane black inks. While checks do create additional paperwork, the good news is that you’ll never find most of it.

Check writing is good exercise and if done regularly, researchers have found that it protects against elevated cholesterol levels and writer’s cramp (although possible side effects include rash, dry skin, missing your favorite television program and paying far too much money for the picnic wine cooler with cheese board that your wife thought was such a great bargain).

On the downside, paying your bills by check frequently requires additional skills, such as sealing the envelope only after you’ve actually written your account number on the check. If it’s a very long account number, you will also have to make sure it doesn’t run right into your signature thus obscuring the big flourish you make with your initial letter.

My way, developed over many years, combines — as you would expect — the worst aspects of both other alternatives. Honed through years of finely tuned overdrafts, my way gives the bill payer that sense of excitement and elation you can only get by assuming someone else finally paid the bills while you were watching a basketball game.

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