I don't have to wate for a statement to arrive, and in all reality I open my statements, punch holes in them, and put them in a binder in case the mortgage lender wants to see them, but other than that, they're useless.
So I can immediately see things clearing, determine my balance, figure out if I've been robbed, see if something's gone wrong, and see my house fund balances go up.
Additionally, in the past 15 months since I started a budget and paying off debt, it's been neat to realize that I've gone from a person who never had any money in her accounts, to actually having between 3-4K in the bank. Now, $1800 of that is to pay a 0% interest card off in Feb, I'm collecting interest while I wait to pay the card off, and another $1800 is for my House Fund. So it's not like I've got money with nothing to do, but 15 months ago there's no way I could have that much just sitting in the bank. So, progress!
And the online bill pay my bills get paid within 1-2 business days, and I can keep track of what I've paid to them.
If we were to suddenly have an evolution where online banking and billpay disappeared, I would be lost.
I think there's two questions here, really.
1. What has been the most helpful in managing my credit is, unfortunately, going to disappear at the end of this month, and that's the free TU credit score and related credit tools offered by WaMu to its credit card holders.
This score, although usually "stale" by about three weeks or so, allows me to gauge the effect that my credit card usage and payment habits have on my overall credit profile and FICO score. The tools included on the WaMu site have permitted me to see the estimated effect of actions such as paying down a CC balance by a certain amount or opening a new line of credit. Using these tools before using a line of credit or opening a new line has enabled me to maintain my FICO scores at the level where they need to be while still being able to use the credit resources available to me.
Again, this is going away at the end of February 2009 with the takeover of WaMu by Chase.
2. What has been the most helpful in managing my time and money is another question, I think. Online bill payment is the biggest money and time saver for me, but definitely NOT the most important tool in my arsenal.
I made up a chart on one sheet of paper several years ago, and I update it every several months or so. On one side of the sheet, I have all of my credit obligations listed, with each account's statement ending date and payment due date. I have the current outstanding balance listed under the account's name, and add any purchases to that total as I make them.
On the other side of the paper I have my bank accounts listed, along with their available balances. I add or subtract from these balances as deposits or debits are made.
How has this helped me to manage my credit, my time and my money? I've got a snapshot of my finances readily available to me any time I like, and it's up-to-date and easy to manage. When a credit card bill or other statement come in the mail, I open it, check it for errors and then file it away...because it has already been paid, usually online, the day after the statement date. I know what I owe and what I've got for cash and when each payment is due, and try to pay down each balance as quickly as possible.
I don't know if this would work for anyone else, but it works well for me and gives me piece-of-mind on a daily basis.
Hope this helps!
(P.S. - This forum is terrific, too bad links to it aren't on every banking/credit card site!)