Automate you money management and save
We all want our finances and investing to be easier. One of the easiest ways to improve our investing is to make it automatic. Setup automatic transfers to occur immediately after you check deposits. The less time you money spends in the checking account, the less likely it will be spent and the more your money will help you towards your goals.
Frankly, we all like things to be easy. We want our diets to work without our involvement and our food cooked for us. Then when we do get motivated to take action, we must battle the perpetual tendency to forget and fall back on our routines. I personally know that if I stored ice cream and a bowl next to my bed, a quart would rarely last a day, but the same quart can last months in the freezer, first because I forget it is there, and when I do remember, it is usually at night while sitting in front of the TV. At that point, I think, boy I could sure go for some ice cream, but ultimately end up staying put. Even a simple task, like getting a bowl of ice cream is no match for the convenience of remaining status quo. If I really wanted ice cream, I would get it, but when not caring either way, we generally default to doing nothing.
This apathy can, however, be used to our advantage. Though an ball sitting still will tend to remain still, if pushed into motion, it will tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force. If this ball is your money and you want your money to do something, you just need to give it a little push. Once it has started into motion, unless you jump in its way to stop it, it should stay in motion; and fortunately, it is much easier to let it be. Unfortunately, the scenario is usually a little different. Instead, someone else has pushed that ball in a direction we don't want it to go. The ball needs to be stopped and the direction corrected. In the case of our money, how is this done?
Accomplishing this feat is aptly regarded as money management. Money management is a philosophy more than a set of guidelines. One must first come to understand their personality. From an understanding of our personality and desires, we can then establish goals that will allow us to achieve those desires. Finally creating a plan to meet those goals. A budget is a physical extension of that plan. By taking time to understand your desires, setting up goals and creating a plan, we are metaphorically creating a new route for that ball in motion. The next step is the get the ball on this track. However, even with a plan in place, it can still be very difficult to keep the ball rolling. Personally, once I start something, I like to see the project through to the end, but even still, when the end is 40 years away, and there is no immediately observable milestones, I lose motivation. There is one very easy way to get the ball rolling and stay rolling, through automatic deductions.
In today's society, it is very easy to spend money. One of the things that has made it so easy is the advent of the credit card. Why? Because, it is other people's money; and second, it is so convenient. The same advancements that make credit cards so convenient also make saving and investing more convenient. In as little as 5 minutes online or at your bank, virtually every regular monthly transaction can be automated from paying your electric bill to investing in the stock market. Use these tools to your advantage and you could permanently put money on the right track.
The first thing to do is sit down for about 2 hours and decide what your goals are. Worthy goals may include retirement lifestyles but also include a vacation. It really does not matter what the goal is, as long as it is what you want. With a goal in mind, monetize those goals into a specific value. If you want to go on a short vacation in 6 months and estimate it will cost $600, then you will need to save $100 per month. If that short vacation is Disney World, then it may be more like $3000 for the same vacation. With a monetized goal, the budget is simple, to have $3000 in 6 months, you need to save $500 per month. With the plan in place, the last step is to make the saving automated. This is surprisingly easy. It can probably be done online with your bank or in 5 minutes at the local branch. In the case of a vacation budget, at the bank, setup a second savings account, and arrange to have $500 drafted each month from your checking account. Arrange to have the draft taken out within a couple of days of your paycheck deposit. The less time your money spends in checking, the less likely it is to be spent. The same principle applies to other expenses as well. In 5 minutes online with your credit card company, the monthly payment can be set to be drafted immediately after your paycheck. You no longer have to worry about forgetting to pay, your card is getting paid down faster, and the company will probably give you a break for setting up automatic drafts.
In summary, with the investment of 2 hours tonight, you could completely change the course your money is taking. Establish your goals and create a goal oriented budget that details your income and mandatory expenses. With the difference (the discretionary income), make a plan for it. Let this plan include investing, debt reduction, and indulgences. Then setup an automatic draft for each leg of this plan. With your money going first to your goals and then to your discretion, you will achieve your goals faster, get the things you really want and spend less time wondering where all your money went. Best of all, it will probably continue a very long time.
Article Tags: Money Management
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Hoopes is an avid author on finance and investing, as well as an entrepreneur. Follow the link to learn more about their most recent venture, the bath body store, Sweetly You.