Automated finances: How to make good money habits effortless

Man using technology to simplify his finances.

You probably have some tricks for saving time and avoiding hassle in your everyday routine. Why not do the same with your finances?

Rather than spending hours poring over bills and statements, take advantage of opportunities to simplify and automate how you manage your money.

It's a move that can help make it easy and painless to save regularly and pay your bills on time. 

Simplify your finances with these easy tips

Take advantage of paycheck deferrals.

You can have a portion of each paycheck contributed automatically to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b). The plan may even allow you to increase the deferral percentage over time.

"Over the years, as my salary increased, I increased my automatic savings deduction by half of the net difference," says Judith Graziani, a marketing director in San Mateo, CA.

In addition to funding a primary retirement plan, you also may want to consider an automatic paycheck deferral to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This can help you build additional savings for your future.

Set up direct paycheck deposit.

Using direct deposit can make it simpler for you to build an emergency fund. Route the bulk of your paycheck into an account for bills and expenses, and automatically deposit the rest into a separate savings account.

Graziani deposits a portion of her pay into a savings account that she considers untouchable. "If the money weren't put in my account automatically, I probably wouldn't be saving nearly as much," she says.

Sign up for paperless billing.

Many businesses will now send their invoices via email, which lets you keep all your bills in one place and cuts down on desktop clutter. Some companies will even shave a bit off your bill as an incentive.

Use online bill payment.

Setting up automatic payments through your bank is typically a fast and easy process. It's rewarding too: You'll avoid late fees, save on postage, and cut down on the number of checks you write.

Making these moves won't entirely liberate you from the task of staying on top of your finances, but they will help make that job a whole lot easier.

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