As with any type of resolution, actions speak louder than words when it comes to achieving your financial goals. Making personal finance progress requires taking concrete steps, which can spell the difference between a vague “I want to save more!” and the more substantive “I am going to max out my Roth IRA this year.”
Luckily, while there’s no way to automate your gym workouts, it’s far easier to set and forget your money-related resolutions. Here are some of the types of financial goals that you can automate, so you can set yourself up for monetary success in 2023.
How to automate your financial goals
Many finance-related goals can be at least partially automated, meaning as long as you clearly identify what said goals are, they can become a guaranteed resolution win. You likely already have set up auto-payments for bills like your rent, utilities, insurance, and credit cards. But if you don’t already, you should also automate contributions to your savings and investment accounts:
Setting up auto-pay is simple to do online, and is usually just a matter of signing in to all of your accounts and finding the right menu. But once you do, it’s time to get specific with it: Decide how much to automate and when those payments should go through. We recommend spacing out your auto-pays so that your bank account doesn’t take one big hit on the first of the month, every month.
Here’s an example of how to stagger your automated payments from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich:
On the second of the month: As soon as your paycheck is direct-deposited into your checking account, a portion of your salary (around 10%) immediately goes your 401(k).
On the fifth of the month: A recurring contribution transfers from your checking to your savings account and to your Roth IRA. (Note: To max out your Roth IRA in 2023, you can contribute roughly $542 every month).
On the seventh of every month: Your credit card and other miscellaneous bills auto-pay goes through.
After the scheduled auto-pay date, check in to confirm the transactions occurred as planned. Internalizing the dates and amounts of your payments will help you stay alert when you’re glancing over your recent transactions for discrepancies. Because while most automated payments make your life easier, be aware that some might cost you in the end.
Make saving easier by spending less
The flip side of “save more!” is always going to be “spend less!” If you examine your last 90 days of spending, you’ll probably find you can cut back on areas you don’t even realize you’re wasting money (overlooked subscriptions come to mind). It also helps to get on top of your unconscious spending with tricks like physically writing down the things you want to buy before you buy them. When it comes to personal finance, often the simplest actions are the ones that will help you gain control of your money.