The Minimalist Guide to Finances: Automate Everything

The Minimalist Guide To Finances-  Automate Everything .jpg

I was sitting down with a client and friend yesterday and she was talking to me about how she finally decided to automate most of her life. Amazon will automatically ship household goods each month, the staples she needs each week for groceries will be sent automatically, and her paycheck gets split amongst different accounts as soon as she gets paid. The first part of her rationale was since the technology exists so we may as well leverage it. The second part of it was her realizing she didn't need to involve herself in all the tedium of her life. 

I get it. We can only have so much damn willpower these days. Everything is distracting, everything. How many times have you picked up your phone with the intention of checking of the weather, but instead you end up replying to emails?

So instead of ruminating about the struggles of having a lizard brain in the modern world, let's just remove do our best to remove ourselves from the equation and leverage the ability to automate the tedium that would otherwise occupy the dark corners of our mind. 

 

Autopay Bills

After you set up your account where all your monthly bills will get paid from, set up all the essential bills on automatic payment. The utilities, the cell phone bill, the internet, everything you need to live your best damn life, set it up on automatic payment. Autopay as much of your monthly bills as you can. Certain bills must be on automatic payment; Netflix, Hulu and maybe your gym membership are all required to be set up on auto pay. 

I used to be opposed to automatically paying bills because I thought it encouraged me to be disengaged with my finances. What I've come to learn is that it's ultimately my choice to be engaged with my finances, but by burning extra energy on thinking about paying my bill, I was focusing on the noise and not the signal. 

 

Automate Savings

The first thing you should save up for is your emergency fund. Remember, an emergency fund is a multiple of your monthly expenses. The text book definition of an emergency fund is three to six months worth of your expenses. 

Break up the savings into a manageable goal. For example, if you need to save $10,500, you can do this if you save $875/month for the next 12 months. The same amount can be saved over 24 month if you save $437.50/month. Once you figure out how much you need to save and how long you'll save, set up an auto transfer from your paycheck to your savings or from your checking account to your emergency fund.

Set up all your other savings the same way. If you're saving for a wedding or a vacation, set up a savings fund and set up the savings to automatically save. Remove yourself from the equation.

Automate Investments

If you can participate in an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, sign up, elect to save a portion of your income, set it and forget it. Choosing a target date fund that automatically rebalances allows you to set it and forget it.

A target date fund is a type of investment fund that automatically changes the investments based on when you plan to retire. For example a target date fund for someone retiring in 40 years will take on a lot of risk now, but will automatically get less riskier over time.

There isn't much need to fuss with how you allocate your investments, as long as you have an idea of when you need to access the money. Platforms like Betterment and Wealthfront allow you to invest your money and allocate your investments based on when you need the funds. 

 

Automate Your Engagement

Will you please review your finances? Just because you are a genius who sets everything up on autopilot, that doesn't excuse you from giving a shit about your finances. The point of automation is to reduce the amount of energy you put into the bullshit of your life, like manually transferring your monthly savings or trying to remember the login to you utilities account. Because let's face it, that is the bullshit of life. Progress is having less tedium to deal with so you can use that energy on the more important things.

Find a habit that works for you. Know your personality and know what types of structure you thrive in. Use your strengths.