Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WotW: Manage Your Online Billing with Manilla

If there is one thing I truly hate in this world it is spending money on stamps. Especially when those stamps are being used to pay bills. It's painful to spend money on spending money.

Fortunately, I pay all my bills online. In fact, I receive almost all my bill statements online as well, which I prefer because nothing is more depressing than opening your mailbox all excited that you have mail only to discover it's somebody demanding money from you. At least with a bill statement in your e-mail inbox you immediately know who it's from and can quickly delete it. I mean, read it.

One of the major problems with taking care of my bills online is trying to manage when each bill is due and how much exactly is due on each bill. Figuring this out typically involves going to each site, logging in and calculating your bill. And every now and then my bills unexpectedly change due dates and then I'm stuck with a late fee.

Today's Wednesday on the Web feature will make all the hassle of e-billing a thing of the past. Welcome to

This fabulous website manages your online billing from one convenient location. Imagine you have bills for two credit cards, your cell phone, your electric bill, your cable bill and your water bill. To view how much you owe on each bill and when it's due, you simply log in to Manilla with your e-mail address and password, and viola! All that information is right in front of you!

Manilla is not a site to pay your bills. Rather, it lets you see your bills, the due dates and often the billing statements as well in one place. There is also a link on the site you can click on to take you to the specific service's site to pay the bill when the time has come.

Getting started is a piece of cake. Simply go to and register. You will need an e-mail address and a secure password (this site can be stingy with what it considers a good password). As soon as you are registered, your first task is to select your cell phone service provider. They give you your choice of the big four: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Simply click on the service you have and then enter your username and password for that service (the same username and password you use when you log on to that site). In a few seconds, it will acquire your billing information and you're ready to go!

When you're taken to your main launch screen, you then have the opportunity to add other services you have. There is a nice search feature that breaks down services into subcategories, or you can search alphabetically. Adding other services is as easy as adding your cell phone – just type in your username and password for the service.

Besides billing services, Manilla also offers tracking for Rewards points programs (Hilton HHonors, Delta Skymiles, etc) and magazine subscriptions.

Manilla really has just three sections to navigate. The first is your launch screen where you manage your accounts. From here, you can click on an account and expand it to see more information about it.

Then there is a mail service, where you will receive messages from Manilla and your various billing services.

Finally, there's a reminder section, and this is the true beauty of Manilla. By clicking on the Reminders tab, you are brought to a list view by default, which shows you all your services, how much is due and by when, all in a convenient list ordered by due date. Not only can you see your due dates, but you can also customize when and how Manilla will remind you of upcoming bills. For instance, you tell it to e-mail or text you a reminder 7 day, 3 days or 1 day before the bill is due. Or, if you're a snooze button kind of person, you can tell it to remind you on all those days.

You can also select calendar view and see the bills on a calendar, which is perfect for visual people like me. 

Another great thing about reminders is that you can add custom reminders for other bills you might have that aren't offered through Manilla.

Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, this is pretty cool, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with putting all my financial information in one place." I had the same concern and it took me a few weeks to gather the courage to make the leap, but let me give you some perspective that might help.
1. Manilla has great encryption services, the same level as the best banking websites.
2. The company has a good system of back-end computer practices that ensure the computer security is well done.
3. You don't actually pay any bills on this site, which means no money ever changes hands through this website, which is more than you can say for sites you probably already use, like Amazon.
You can read more about Manilla's security practices here.

Another thing that should gain your confidence is the fact that in order for a service to be enrolled with Manila, that company has to request to be part of it and must pay a small fee to Manilla. So, if your service isn't on Manila (and not all of mine were), it means your company hasn't paid to be there. When a company pays to use a web service, it's because they believe in the safety and security of it. The motivating factor for billing companies to use Manilla is that it saves them money to do e-billing rather than sending out paper statements. Plus, it encourages people to pay their bills on time.

If you do find that one of your services is not listed, you can request it. This does not necessarily mean it will be approved, but it lets Manilla know you're interested and if enough requests come their way, they can start putting pressure on your service to get on board.

It took me awhile to make the leap to Manilla, but now that I did, I'm thrilled with how much it has simplified my online billing experience.

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