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How do you manage bills/water when you are out of town for a month or more?

How do you manage bills/water when you are out of town for a month or more?

Mar 14th, 2012, 07:25 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,944
How do you manage bills/water when you are out of town for a month or more?

I posted this on the US forum because it applies to my next travel plans but is it different for overseas travel? Online sounds more logical but are there other ways?

"So far, I have successfully resisted on-line banking and would appreciate it if you don't tell me why I shouldn't. This is for those of us still in the ice age who prefer 1st class mail.

For those of you who are away from home for a month or 2, do you have you mail forwarded to your hotel/apartment?

Also, do you have a plumber turn off water and put something in the pipes to prevent freezing?

Thanks, TDu"
TDudette is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 07:43 AM
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We don't turn off water because we usually have someone watering plants and don't travel for extended periods when freezing is likely. We have friends that check on things for us and, in the event an off season freeze was expected, I'm sure they'd do whatever necessary to protect the pipes. We do turn off water to toilets after a friend returned home to a flood due to a faulty valve.

We bank online but, if you don't choose to, can you prepay many of your monthly bills? Once I did that with electric as the bill was due the day we left and we were going for a month. I looked at what it was that same month the year before, added a $50 cushion and paid with the previous month's bill.
Judy is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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I didn't answer your mail question. Since most of our lengthy trips are international, we have the post office hold our mail.
Judy is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 08:03 AM
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OK TDu - I won't tell to use online banking. But you should be able to access your bills online from anywhere - you might have to arrange with the company or utility to post them, then you can send in a check from anywhere but you may have to use an expidited mail.

As far as water, I assume you are going during the winter if you want to prevent freezing.If that is the case, ask your plumber about installing a temperature controlled thermal convection powered hot water recirculation valve. These can be set to a trigger temperature and when the trigger is hit, it will circulate warm water through all of your pipes. It will reach them all. If you do not want the cost of that, insulate your pipes in unheated areas or use heating tape on them with a thermostat, shut off the water supply, open all outside taps, keep your home temperature no colder than the mid 50's and open the doors in under sink cabinets on outside walls so that the warmth can circulate. The first option works best though.

If you are going not in cold weather, just shut off the water supply and hot water heater just in case. When you return though you may find the flapper in the toilet has dried out so you might have to replace it.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Mar 14th, 2012, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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We work with our neighbors. While we do pay most of our bills in advance, some do not allow it, so we just put together the payments in envelopes and have our neighbor mail them for us. Same is true on picking up the mail. Oh, and this isn't a one-way street as we do the same for them when they travel in their RV so it works out well.

On the water bill, this pissed us off on our last trip. We always prepay the bill and it never is very much. Before we left we prepaid the norm for two full months, even though we would not be at our home for 3-4 weeks of the billing cycle. The week before we returned our neighbors luckily caught a notice on the door stating the town was going to "cut off our water" if we did not pay the $11 owed on the Feb. bill. Our neighbors paid it. When we returned we went to the water department demanding to know what was going on as the prepayment should have been far in excess of the normal usage. As it turns out, it was in reality, but they were too lazy to actually read the meter so they used the previous year number and estimated the same amount for 2012. They then told us that had they disconnected the water we would have had to pay a penalty. WHAT!?! I'll be running for mayor in the next election.

daveesl is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 08:43 AM
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I turn my water off at the street rather than the house, since I'm responsible for the pipe between the street and the house. I don't worry about pipes freezing, but I live in central NC. I let the town know when I'll be gone, and they put me on a different base water rate. (One time when I didn't tell them they thought my meter must be broken and installed a new one!)

I travel for months at a time, which is longer than the US Post Office will hold mail, so I have it forwarded to a friend. All my bills, except for lawn care, are on automatic bank draft. I send post-dated checks to the lawn care people.

FYI, my leaving home list is here: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...ing-home-list/
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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I'm planning a trip next year but have already contacted some of my utility companies. Both have suggested I could pre-pay or could set up automatic billing.

With the auto billing you need to fill out a form provided by the company and they then automatically deduct the amount owed from the account you specify on the date the payment is due.

Both also stated that if I use online banking and notify them before I leave if my estimated payment doesn't quite cover the amount due, they would not shut off my utilities if I paid the past due amount promptly upon my return.
douggee is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 09:11 AM
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I used to have the same problem before on-line banking (I fought it too, but finally made the change - turns out it was easy and convenient). In the meantime, call the merchant/s before you leave and pay the estimate for that month before you leave. I've never had a problem with a merchant caring a balance forward. If you have a regularly occurring bill of a similar amount, just double up on the payment before you leave.
AmysDad is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 09:27 AM
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My basement water pipes are wrapped with some kind of insulation which is plugged into an electrical outlet. I keep this stuff plugged in during the colder parts of the winter because otherwise the pipes freeze overnight even when I'm at home.

I have the post office hold my mail until I return home. I usually pick it up at the post office. If I'm to be gone less than 2 weeks, I have the mail carrier bring it on the day of my return.

Several bills are paid automatically, either from my bank account. These include house payment, car insurance, gas and electricity. A couple of things automatically go on my Visa.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Great replies all. And thank you basingstoke for not doing that!

"A couple of things automatically go on my Visa."----would electric and cable companies do that?

FYI, when hub and I were gone, it was usually 2 weeks and one time, our return was going to miss a credit card due date. I called them and they changed the due date.

thursday will read your link. Thanks!
TDudette is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 09:41 AM
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ps-Basingstoke, you said that the auto system recirulated warm water. Although all of our pipes are wrapped, the one line fartherest from heat will freeze. So I turn the tap on to drip, catch the water in my watering can, BUT was told to not use warm water. Why would there be a difference?
TDudette is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 10:41 AM
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We have all of our utility bills, including internet provider, on Auto-Pay by debit from checking account or on a credit card. Have done this for many years without any problems. We take long international trips, 6 weeks.
Can't turn off our water as it's needed for irrigation. We have someone check our home weekly.
Our post office will only hold mail for 30 days. If in the US, I use Priority Forwarding if we're going to be away for an extended time, all mail is shipped to us in a Priority box once a week. If out of the country, after 30 days, I have mail delivered on a pre- arranged day and house checker comes and puts it inside house,the post office then continues to hold it for another 30 days.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Mar 14th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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Our gas and electric are automatically charged to my credit card, [even in a small town]. The water co isn't set up for that, so I simply pay a big amount, that I know will be more than sufficient, upfront.

Then one can go online and pay the credit card while I am traveling, but even that I have set up to be paid automatically via my bank account. And you can also pay MORE that you own on your credit card too, prepaying for it before you leave, so that even the card won't have to be paid.

As far as forwarding mail for a month or 2 - DON'T DO It! You will be chasing it all over the place. You might never see it. A hotel may or may not forward it back to you if it continues to get deliveries after you checkout. At an apartment, the owner may not even want you getting mail there.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Again, very interesting. And thanks again to those who DIDN'T suggest online stuff.

BTW, friends of mine who once lived on a boat used a mailing service. Since they were sailing with no special itinerary, it worked for them. The service has an address with a street name. When friends knew for sure about their next port, they called the service and the mail was delivered to the local P.O.

With internet, such a service is probably not needed anymore.
TDudette is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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TDu - this type of system will reach even the furthest outreaches of your pipedom and mixes water from both the cold and hot water pipes so all are covered.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Mar 14th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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RE the mail -- currently the USPS will only hold your mail for 30 days. They used to hold it for longer if you got approval, but no longer per our postmaster in DC.

basingstoke -- about how much does a system like that cost?
yestravel is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Wre are normally gone for 5-6 weeks in June/July and 4 weeks in Sept Oct.

Just about all of our bills are charged to one of our credit cards, and all of our credit cards are automatically deducted from our Brokerage Account. The only recurring thing we pay is the gardener.

Someone checks our house from time to time.

At one time we had house-sitters - but they usually broke things - like the car, refrigerator, stove, bathroom faucet, toilet, and our cat!!! So we fired them.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Mar 14th, 2012, 03:49 PM
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Also check whether you need to alert your home and contents insurer of an extended absence.
farrermog is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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We engaged a fellow Fodorite to house sit when we were away for a couple of months. We left a few signed cheques with her for "just in case". Prepaid the water, elec and phone bills before we left.

Too easy.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Mar 14th, 2012, 05:03 PM
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Re: Mail With Premium Mail Forwarding all of it goes in a large sealed box every Wednesday and you get it all on Friday or Saturday, no matter where we are in the US,Everything delivered to your address is included, even packages sent via US Mail.No piece of mail is indivually forwarded. Our mail carrier told us this was the only safe way to do it unless it's a permanent move. We only have it sent to one place and have done this for several years. It's expensive( a set up charge plus a weekly fee paid ($15.00? in advance) but worth it, peace of mind. We let the post office hold it the last 30 days if we're away for many months.
HappyTrvlr is online now  

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