Why I Automate My Finances

With the strike by Canada Post last year I have been asked by a few friends (we’ll be nice and call them the “technologically-challenged” crowd) to help them automate their finances.  I myself am certainly not a computer wizard, and most definitely no one would mistake me as an “IT guy.”  That being said, I think if you automate your finances to be ahead of the game, and within 10 years most people probably won’t have a choice, so you may as well get used to it now.

Lazy Is Good?

Automate your Finances

The whole motivation for me to automate my finances was laziness.  I don’t consider myself an overall lazy person, but I do tend to procrastinate smaller things in favour of trying to cover ground on pursuits I am more motivated by ( I like to think this is different from spending endless hours watching TV or playing video games etc).  As a direct result of this I was frustrated by getting mailed payments for every little service I use and then having to go through the whole process of writing a cheque, getting in the mail ASAP (since I live rurally you have to allow for a couple of extra mailing days each way) and so on and so forth.  I have accomplished the lazy man’s solution by automating my monthly payments, but I have also seen many other benefits, and consequently I am not a huge proponent of automating as many basic tasks as I can in life in order to free up the majority of my time to pursue more productive efforts.

Automate Your Finances To Save Cash

One great reason to look at automating your payments is that you save money on stamps and late payments.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it does add up over time.  With Canada Post employees looking for higher pay, look for basic postage to go up as well.  Even if you automate your finances and it only saves one late payment it will have been well worth your time.

Some people feel that by giving companies the ability to reach into your account and take money, that you run huge risks if they make an error.  The fact is that most basic bills will still get mailed to you, however instead of asking for payment they just explain that a certain payment will be deducted from your specified account on a certain date; therefore, you have notice if you want to dispute any charges or you feel that something wasn’t done fairly.

Automating your finances can be simple task and the benefits stack up over time.

To make your financial goals you can browse online to find templates and calculators and then sit back and watch your money work for you.

It’s Easier Than You Think To Automate Your Finances

Most people already do automatic withdrawal plans for their car and house payments, so I’m not quite sure why there is an aversion to automating loan payments, electric, heating, water, phone, cable, and internet bills.  It just makes so much sense.  The only item I do not pay automatically is my Visa bill and that is because I like the fact that it forces me to look at it and see where I have spent money.  This helps me stay inline with my personal budget. Since I use my card to pay for absolutely everything (with the cash back feature I’m crazy not to) it is an easy way to track my monthly spending.  I even pay this bill online, so I don’t have to waste time waiting in any lines, or praying that it makes it through a ridiculous public mail system on time.  As a fairly lazy person (but one that places a high value on necessary organization) I also appreciate the fact that automated online bank statements are filed and kept for me whenever I need them, without taking up filing cabinets full of space in my office.  If my house burns down (god forbid) I can still access all of my relevant financial documents from anywhere I want.  This is a huge load off of my mind.

To automate your finances is very easy.  Almost every major utility service has a system in place.  If you simply take a look at your most recent bill, there is probably a number to call.  Just call it with a blank cheque sitting beside you for the account you want to take the money from (so you can read them the route and transit numbers at the bottom) and your good to go.

Money Is Just a Tool, Not a Goal

Most people even get paid automatically these days and just get a pay stub outlining their earnings and deductions.  I like the idea that I don’t even ever see the vast majority of my money, it just flows in and back out.  The reason I’m high on this is because it allows me to think of my money as the mere tool that it is, and not the end goal.  Holding cash in our hands can be an oddly powerful force that can warp our financial thinking in weird and unpredictable ways.  I prefer to think logically and unemotionally about my pay and expenses (as you should as well).  If you want to get very strategic with your money you can even take a quick trip to your local bank (or your bank’s website if you’re so inclined) and set up basic automatic deductions off of your paycheque into specific accounts that are earmarked for certain things.  Or you can set things up so they automatically come off your credit card. Be sure to compare credit cards before you do this so you can take advantage of the best reward options. I personally don’t feel the need to do this, but some people enjoy the idea of having 3% of their cheque put into an account automatically to pay for emergency house and vehicle repairs, 5% toward the purchase of a new car, and 10% for that special trip to Mexico they are taking in 4 months.  This is an undeniably effective way of saving, because you are not even given the option of spending it straight from your basic chequeing account.

With so many people making the easy transition to automated banking thanks to the strike I think traditional mail will struggle to make ends meet!

About Teacher Man

TM is a self-professed nerd about all things related to personal finance. He can be found writing for My University Money, Young and Thrifty, and Canadian Personal Finance Blog. TM blogs in order to continue his quest for lifelong learning and hopefully to help others along the way.

2 Responses to Why I Automate My Finances

  1. I automate my cell phone and our cable bill. I like how its charged directly to the credit card bill (kah-ching for travel reward points!).

    I think the advent of online billing/payments has been a godsend.. I don’t know where people would have found the time to go to their banks and make bill payments, or go to the mailbox every second day to send off a bill.

    My mom still does it the old school way, but she has so much time on her hands, and she enjoys the personalized contact she gets at the bank. :)

  2. Teacher Man says:

    Hmm… I might have to try that with the credit card, it had never really occurred to me! Personalized Contact… Not exactly the best descriptor of our generation!

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