Writing checks, licking envelopes, buying stamps, wondering if you'll be able to cover the bills this month? What a bother. Instead automate your finances. Automating your personal finances is dead simple and works brilliantly helping you win the finance game.
1) Setup direct depositDon't go to the bank anymore - the free lollipop isn't worth your time. Direct deposit. Take payment via google wallet, venmo etc. And work with a bank or credit union that has an app for depositing checks (usually for free). You're not getting paid to go to the bank - break the habit and get your time back.
2) Have enough reserves to weather the storm
Save up a month or two of operating expenses. This covers the bumps in life, if a payroll check doesn't land or the bank has an issue your automation keeps on turning. Low cash flow will quickly torpedo efforts to automate your financial life. A good buffer is usually 2+ months of living expenses.
3) Setup automatic payments with all vendors for the 1st
Setting up payments to occur on the 1st of the month is usually a call, chat, or website away from being setup. It's worth the 10 minutes to never have to worry about being on time again. Eventually you'll want to setup all your credit cards to pay the full amount on the first of every month - good bye interest paymentsTypical vendors:
- Credit Cards (we try to make all our purchases on cards and they auto pay every month)
4) Trust and verify
Now that all our money lands the last day of the month and is auto payed the first day of the next month we have a very consistent snapshot of how we're doing financially every month. The automation makes our spending patterns easier to observe and has made our financial life much more predictable. When you're not taking time to write checks and pay bills you free your time and mind up to get strategic with your money. You start looking at the future instead of the now. Here are a few things to check each month to verify you're on track.
- Check credit score (free with Discover, Chase, etc.)
- Savings level is improving
- Net worth (assets - liabilities) is improving. We keep a simple sheet that shows
- Cash (savings, google wallet, checking, etc.)
- Long term liabilities