Put Your Finances on Auto Pilot

September 9, 2006

I was at a conference recently, and learned a great tip to automate many of my email communications.  After I implemented this tip, I started thinking about all the ways you can automate your finances to help achieve your financial goals. 

So… this week’s tip is a list of ways to put your finances on autopilot:

1.    Invest in your company’s retirement plan.  This is the easiest way to put your savings on autopilot, by far.  And many companies provide a matching contribution, so there’s free money involved as well!

2.    If you don’t have a company retirement plan, setup your own retirement plan (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA and many others) and establish an automatic withdrawal from your bank account to your retirement plan.

3.    Setup an automatic withdrawal from your checking to your savings account to save for emergencies, rainy days, vacations or other short term financial goals.

4.    Setup automatic withdrawals to pay for recurring bills.  This way you won’t ever miss a due date.

5.    Setup automatic withdrawals to pay the minimum on your credit card.  There’s nothing worse than paying a late fee because you didn’t get your credit card payment in on time.  This tip will make sure you always get at least the minimum payment in on time each month.  You can always send in extra money when you want to.

6.    If you’re self employed, transfer a specified amount each month to a savings account until it’s time to send in your quarterly tax payment.  This will be much less painful than coming up with 3 months of estimated taxes at one time.

7.    Adding onto #6, if you’re self employed, consider incorporating your business and putting yourself on the payroll.  Then you will be required to withhold taxes and submit them periodically.

There are many more ways to put your finances on autopilot, but these will get you started.  The important thing is to make it automatic, and painless, so you’ll never miss the money.

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Kristine McKinley, CFP®, CPA, is the founding principal of Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

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Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.