Automating your finances reduces stress, saves money, and allows you to earn more money long-term. How? No more worries about whether you paid the phone bill on time. No more late fees. And more frequent regular investments, which means more interest earned.
To put your finances on automatic-pilot, consider taking the following steps:
1. Sign up for direct deposit, so that your paycheck will automatically be deposited into your checking account each payday.
2. Sign up for automatic bill-pay, or set up individual automatic payment plans for each of your monthly bills. Note the account that the bills will be paid from and the due dates, and enter them into Quicken, MS Money, or your checkbook for the entire month. You can set these up to be recurring bills in many programs, or just pick a date each month to enter the next month’s worth of bills.
3. Open an online savings account for short-term savings, and set up automatic transfers to that account each payday. You can sometimes do this while you’re filling out the direct deposit form at your company. Otherwise, you can do it through the online savings institution itself. I use these types of accounts to save for things like vacations, Christmas, replacing household appliances, insurance, escrow, and taxes.
4. Open the investment account of your choice, and set up automatic transfer to that account each payday as well.
5. If your company offers a 401(k) option (especially if there is a company match) sign up to contribute to that each payday too. You’ll be contributing pre-tax dollars, so you’ll hardly even miss them.
6. Sit back and relax.
Of course, even if you automate your finances, you should still check your accounts regularly (I check nearly every day, but maybe I’m obsessive) to make sure that things are going as planned and that there are no unauthorized charges appearing. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for additional places to invest, and to make sure that the places you’re currently investing are providing a good return on your investment.