Online banking

Online banking isn't out to change your money habits. It simply uses today's technology to give you the option of bypassing the time-consuming, paper-based aspects of traditional banking in order to manage your finances more quickly and efficiently.

It is almost certainly the way most banking will be conducted in the not-too-distant future.

Benefits of banking online

Whether your bank is a traditional brick-and-mortar institution or a Web-only bank with no brick-and-mortar branches, online banking lets you connect to your bank through the Internet and do things such as view your accounts, transfer money between accounts, view images of canceled checks, print copies of those checks and pay bills online. You'll find that it's common for online bank sites to be compatible with money managing programs such as Quicken and Microsoft Money.

Many banks make it easier to manage your checking account by allowing you set up e-mail alerts so you can be notified when checks clear or when your balance slips below a certain level. There is also a detailed listing of your canceled checks.

If you'd like to eliminate paper checks from your life, you'll find that a growing number of companies allow you to make automatic payments through your online banking account.

Getting set up for online bill pay

Getting started is easy. The bank's Web site will walk you through the steps of registering the bills you want to pay and the accounts you want to use to pay them. You'll only have to enter the information once. You can always make changes and add or subtract bills.

If a monthly bill is for the same amount each month, you might want to schedule a recurring payment. If the amount varies from month to month you can pay the bill each month on a "one time" basis.



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