One of the easiest, and best things, you can do for your finances is automation. Automating your finances will allow you to make sure you bills are paid on time and your savings goals are not interrupted by a failure to remember to make the transfer. It seems like forever ago when I wrote my post about my financial network maps, but it is a perfect place for you to start on the road to automation. The map is going to give you a view into how all of your accounts interact and are connected. Once you have that view you can find where you can automate to save yourself time and money. I have updated my network map with colored arrows to identify how I have automated each payment/transfer.
Red Arrows: Stagnant Connections in case a transfer is needed between those accounts. No actual automation with the connection.
Black Arrows: Plain old manual payments, checks or online payment when it is due.
Blue Arrows: Automatic payments, transfers, and direct deposits. These transfers of funds occur every month without human intervention. They occur at the same time and make sure the bills are paid and the savings is moving in the right direction.
I am going to quasi automate my utility bills by making a conscience effort to setup bill payment through my bank whenever the bill comes in the mail. To that effect I need to add my trash bill on there as an automated payment every quarter. Some additional improvements I can make would be to make the savings and checking money all come directly out of my paychecks, it will help to streamline my savings and further buffer the temptation spend.
Most companies now a days will provide a method for you to setup automatic payments each month. You should assess your current situation and where ever you can go ahead and setup automatic withdrawals. While you are in there setting up your automatic payments go ahead and opt out of paper statements, they are just going to clutter up your house and make you where the shredder out, besides you have it set to pay anyway.
If you use an online service to manage your accounts, like Yodlee, you can setup alerts to notify you when balances in your accounts hit predefined limits, this includes all of your accounts, not just deposit accounts. You can set your alerts to notify you via text message for things like low balances, new credit card charges, and even bill notices.
You may be leery of handing out your checking account to the mortgage company, or just wondering why would you even care to take the time when what you are doing works. When you have automated your saving and your paying, you are eliminating the chance that you could accidentally miss a payment or spend your savings before you get it in there. When you eliminate the possibility of paying late you eliminate the possibility of late fees. The opportunity cost savings is probably the biggest part of automation. If you aren’t spending the time paying bills, and balancing check books, you could be out working to increase your income or increase the joy in your life. So automate it and relax.