At the end of the day, we don’t sit down and say, “Gee, I wish I had more to do.” It’s quite the opposite. It seems kind of counterintuitive that we’d have to work hard to keep our lives simple, but such is the world in which we live. Some people have found ways to simplify by unplugging — getting rid of cable, turning off their phones, deleting their Facebook accounts, etc. But in our day-to-day, Johnny and I use technology more than ever because we’ve found ways for it to simplify our lives — and especially, our finances.
In the past few years, we’ve started automating our finances, so much so that we’re thinking of changing the name of our blog to Our Freaking Robot. Or maybe just I, Robot. So today we wanted to share how we automate and hear any of your tips, too.
If your rent is like ours, it’s due on the first of every month, and no later than the fifth. Rather than reminding ourselves to write a check and mail it off to our landlord twelve times a year, we have our bank do it for us, using bill pay. We don’t have to worry about late payments, and our landlord can predict when our payment is going to arrive since it comes on the same exact day every month. The money comes out of our checking account, so we make sure to keep our account balance ready for that withdrawal.
Utilities can be trickier because they vary from month to month, making it impossible to set up an automatic bill pay through our bank. Boooo. Some utility companies have automatic payments through their own site, which we always sign up for first thing. Our gas company, for instance, sends a bill to my email, but then they automatically take the balance out of our bank account on the same day each month.
On the flip side, our electric company doesn’t offer such a service because they haven’t yet seen the light (I’ll blame the horrible pun on today being Monday). So on top of an e-bill, we also have them send us a paper bill in the mail. We’re all about saving the trees, but the paper bill is a great, tangible reminder that we have a monthly bill due. And it’s much less likely to be glanced over than an e-bill. The same day that bill comes in the mail, we pay it off (using a bill payment through our bank… no clunky check writing necessary). And then we recycle it by letting Sally go to town and do her best Impressionist artwork on it.
Checking to Savings Transfer
Any money we make goes to our checking account, and any money we spend leaves from our checking account. But to keep that checking account in check (another terrible Monday pun) and to keep our savings growing, we automatically transfer a minimal amount to savings at the end of the month. We like to make sure our savings is always growing, so the automatic transfer gives us one less thing to do. And if we want to transfer more, we can always do that when we have the time.
Our biggest rule of thumb when it comes to using credit cards is paying them off in full every month. So if it’s an option to do so, we have the credit cards automatically pay themselves off in full on the same day each month. We still receive credit card statements through our email so we can keep track of how much money we’ve put on a specific card, but the dirty work is done by the plastics themselves.
So that’s how we automate. Automating our bills is much different from automating our budget — which we don’t do. For that, we manually enter in every expense because it keeps us accountable and more aware of our spending. You can read more about that here.
Do you automate? Care to share any other financial automating tricks we may have missed?