Automating your finances is one of the most reliable ways to maintain solid financial habits and to build wealth. We often use automation to pay our lenders, utility companies and service providers so why not automate to pay yourself first. Automating your savings and investing allows you to direct your money first to accomplish your goals instead of wondering where your money is going every month. By having automatic savings, contributions, and investments this will free up time that might have been spent manually moving the money over and investing it yourself. Also, with the ups and downs that we saw in 2020 this can help to remove the emotion out of investing and ensure your money has more time in the market to compound instead of on the sidelines in cash. Also, by paying yourself first this can remove the temptation to make frivolous impulse purchases that can detract from your more important financial goals.
What you can automate:
Now that I touched on the importance of automation we can begin to look at what can be automated. Here is a list of items where you can setup and have them be automated every single month.
- 401(k) Contributions – these are a simple way to set a contribution rate and have this contribution pulled directly from your paycheck.
- 401(k) Automatic Increase – check with you company 401(k) plan provider and see if your plan allows for this. An automatic increase can be set so that every year your contribution can be increased by 1%
- HSA Contributions – similar to your 401(k) HSA accounts can be setup through your employer and contributions can be made directly from your paycheck.
- Roth IRA Contributions – the brokerage firm that holds your Roth IRA will be able to setup automatic contributions online for your Roth IRA. Please be aware of the phase out rules and contribution limits for Roth IRA’s when you are setting these up.
- 529 Plan Contributions – this is a simple and easy way to ensure your education planning goals are staying on track. Check with your service provider to setup these automatic contributions and also be aware of the contribution limits each year.
- Brokerage Account savings – a brokerage account can be a great way to invest your after tax money so that they money can grow and also still provide you with flexibility to withdrawal the money as you need it. Like the other accounts mentioned above these automatic contributions can be setup online with the brokerage firm that holds your account.
- Investing and Trading – above I mentioned how you can get the money saved into your accounts and this step allows you to get the money invested instead of having that money simply placed in a money market. The automatic investment feature allows you to move the money into a mutual fund of your choice automatically after the money has been placed in your account. If you work with a financial advisor or use a robo advisor such as Betterment they will be able to invest this money for you right away.
- Account Rebalancing – setting up automatic account rebalancing ensures that your accounts maintain the asset allocation that you have desired. Many firms will offer annual automatic rebalancing of your accounts so that your accounts stay on track for your current goals and risk tolerance.
Automating your finances is one of the simplest ways to build wealth, and once setup, can remove any additional effort on your part. Check with your investment account providers to see if or what options you have to automate your accounts and your investments.