We talk a lot about automating everything in our financial lives, from online bill paying (to make sure bills are paid on time) to direct deposit of paychecks (to make sure we are meeting our savings goals). Automating makes everything a little easier – not only does it save you time, it can help you to save and grow your money while getting closer to your financial goals. Time passes quickly and monitoring online accounts can easily get away from us. I like to automate everything and find it helpful to check in at least once a quarter to make sure things are still working like I want them to.
As things change.
Inevitably “life happens” and things in your life will change over time. You will want to make some adjustments as a result of those changes. Maybe you received a well-deserved raise, you are getting married or you are moving into your first apartment or purchasing a new home. Maybe your interests and what you personally value have changed. All of these are good reasons to review your automated savings or bill-paying accounts for possible changes.
A few times a year, I realize my lifestyle (work or otherwise) has shifted in some way. This leads me to reevaluate all of my automated spending and saving habits. Here are a few examples:
- “Jeez… Homes are getting crazy expensive. I feel like I should up my savings now.”
- “Yikes, I had some unexpected expenses last month, maybe I should reduce my discretionary spending this quarter to build up my savings.”
- “I’ve noticed my bank’s customer service is not at the same level as it has been. Maybe it is time to look for another bank.”
- “I no longer need or want a subscription to X magazine or Y newspaper.”
- “I think I could get a much better price and plan if I switch cell phone carriers.”
Make some changes.
Where do you start? Take a look at your bank account and bank statements for items that might need a change. Are there payments that creditors automatically pull on a certain date through their own system (maybe you could receive an interest rate reduction for allowing them to do so?), or do you have payments to creditors sent directly through your bank’s online bill pay on a standard date? Is there value in one way over the other? Create your plan and adjust your spending and savings as necessary (remember to be on the lookout for new items to add to your automated plan). And check your account frequently to make sure your plan is working as expected.
(A bonus tip: If your employer offers payroll direct deposit, sign up for it and allocate a portion of your paycheck to savings first, then to your checking account to pay your monthly bills.)
It’s not set in stone.
Automating your savings and spending does not mean a lifetime commitment. You can and should make adjustments to it over time as your life changes. Personally, I check my accounts and look at my dashboard every day. I frequently make shifts and changes that will better help me reach my financial – and personal – goals. Have you checked recently?