Automate Your Expenses: think less, save more.
We here at Manpacks love finding new ways to live better without creating more work for ourselves. It’s one of the reasons we created this service. And we’re betting you love it as well – it’s probably one of the reasons you’re on our site. So we got to thinking about the various lifehacks, shortcuts, and random tricks we’ve found to make our daily lives easier (beside subscribing to Manpacks, of course) and have decided to share them with you, the Manpacks community.
Men, let’s talk about your money for a minute.
How much time a month do you spending paying bills? Do you do a marathon session the kitchen table with a notepad and calculator to make sure you’re within your budget? Or are you constantly paying as you go – jumping on the computer to get the payment in on time (or maybe a little late)? How often have you spent money you shouldn’t have or forgotten about a bill until it was too late? It’s that type of slapdash financial approach that’s left you scratching your head wondering why you can’t get more money set aside for those big expenses you really want to pay for (like the down payment on a house, a vacation abroad, or paying off some debt).
That’s why we recommend setting up an automated system that coordinates your budget, bank accounts, and bills. Think of it as programming your finances…Oh, and it doesn’t take long to set up.
Here’s what you do:
Create a budget.
If you haven’t done this yet, set aside 30 minutes and do it. We know it’s such a boring adult thing to do that’s also kind of stressful (we get it – you’re looking at all your bills at once), but you need to do it. It’s the only way you’re going to keep up on your money and stay ahead of it in the future. The big thing is that you’re going to walk away with an estimate of your monthly expenses.
Create a separate account just for paying bill.
This is the key to the system. Essentially you want to have two accounts: one for your expenses (cell phone, Internet, Manpacks subscription) and one for your discretionary spending (bar tabs, entertainment, and unplanned expenses). The genius of separating money for your expenses and the money you spend daily is that it prevents you from absent-mindedly spending money you want for more important things.
Set up automatic bill pay and pre-programmed transfers.
Once you’ve figured out your expenses and setup an account to use as a “feeder” for your bills, you then have to set up the automated connections to move money from the account. You’d be surprised how many of your bills and expenses can be preset and automated – from your cell phone bill to putting money in your 401K. It’s all about taking the time to enter your account information into auto-pay options for your bills.
Move money into your bill paying account every time you get paid.
Now all you have to do is simply move the money you’ve budgeted for expenses into the bill paying account on payday and never worry about it again.
Keep track of you money.
Finally, after you’ve robotized your banking, you have to make sure it doesn’t pull a terminator on you. Automation isn’t an excuse not to keep an eye on your accounts. And with the sites like Mint.com, you can check the status of your money on any computer AND your smartphone.
If you’ve already done something like this, or have a personal finance hack of your own, go on and share in the comments below.
[Pic via Flickr - espensorvik]