3 Easy Steps to Automate Your Money

by Ryan Yates

Technology is an always-changing phenomenon.

Nowadays we have the ability to deposit pictures of checks, pay with the wave of a wrist band, and email money back and forth.

Conducting personal business by setting foot in a bank or paying your bills through the mail continues to be useful in many situations – but it can also be automated to save you time, money, and even frustration.

Being sure of accuracy and saving time are the two greatest benefits of automating your finances.

People love to complain about their excuses for not wanting to pay attention to their financial situation: It takes too long, it’s too complicated, my money is going in too many directions, and I can’t possibly track my spending.

Excuses are for suckers. Learning about technology and financial automation can be a little confusing at first, but it’s rewards are worth the time and effort to master.

Find Financial Software You’re Comfortable With

Whether it’s Manilla, Mint, or Quicken personal finance software, it’s important to research some different options and pick a budget application that you feel comfortable using. After all, if you hate using it and you never fully understand how it works, you aren’t going to use it.

Budgeting software gives you a better chance of accuracy when compared to balancing your checkbook, writing your budget in a spiral notebook, or even using a standalone spreadsheet.

Using financial software, you will see where all of your money is coming in and going out. You can also see all of your bills in one location and set up payment reminders, ensuring you aren’t leaving anything out and being absolutely certain payments are made on time – every time.

Automating Bill Pay

This step might make some readers’ skin crawl – but setting up your recurring monthly bills to be paid automatically can make thing run so much smoother. But if you’re hesitant to make this leap, I don’t blame you.

It took me a while to trust the automated bill pay setup. But once I made the jump, I immediately began reaping the benefits.

Some people automate bill pay from one single online location – usually their bank. Others like using various sites to handle all of their action; like using their credit card’s website to pay their credit card bill, using their cable supplier’s website to automate their cable bill, and so on.

Which ever method you decide to follow, the important thing is that you’ve begun the automation process.

Don’t Ignore Your Emails

In this technology-driven age, people are easily overrun with email messages in their inbox. After all, why should you have to fork over your email address to buy a cup of fancy frozen yogurt or buy a package of batteries?

When you make the decision to automate your finances, you must resist the urge to ignore the emails that you receive notifying you of your financial status.

For starters, you should take some time to make adjustments to your settings and preferences so that you don’t receive an email for every small little insignificant detail. It’s smart to get notified about large purchases and payment reminders.

But it’s also good to set up your account to let you know when money has entered and left your various accounts.

Just remember, in the middle of all of this automation and email notification, you cannot become so burdened by emails that you begin to ignore your finances. After all, automation is supposed to help clear up your financial landscape, not make is overgrown with weeds.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents May 31, 2013 at

What is really interesting is before all this technology and convenience, budgets were done on a piece of paper. It still can be done on paper, but it is up to the individual to follow it. After all, it is the structure we use to reach our financial goals. No excuses!

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James June 13, 2013 at

The only thing wrong I see with this set-it-and-forget it mentality is that I often times find myself spending a lot of money that I wouldn’t normally spend. With a hands-off approach, I often catch myself forgetting the value of money. I think dealing mostly in cash would offset these issues, if that makes sense.

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JMK August 18, 2013 at

I have virtually everything set up to automatically charge to my credit card. That way I only have to log in to my credit card website, review the charges against my own spreadsheet (which I update as I use the card) and pay it off. If I’m on vacation, bills still get paid. If a service provider “accidently overcharges me” it doesn’t come out of my regular bank account and send me into overdraft because of their error. When it hits the CC I can just contact them and have them sent through a credit. I pay off the card weekly – it’s much easier to keep my spreadsheet aligned with the charges on the CC website when I only have a few to deal with at a time. Also, if any suspicious charges appear I notice immediately. I look at my CC as a slow motion debit card. Instead of the money coming out of my bank account while I stand in a store swiping my card, instead it just comes out later in the week when I review and pay everything. Nothing goes on the card that I couldn’t have paid with cash or debit. As soon as I spend on the card I add it to my spreadsheet and deduct it off the balance, just like an old fashioned check book. Once I swipe I consider the money gone.

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