Devil's Advocate 
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Automating Your Finances is an Expensive Mistake

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This is a Devil's Advocate post.

Automation Robots!The allure of automation is obvious. Look at the famous Ronco Rotisserie catchphrase – “Set it and forget it!” Automation is appealing because it lets computers do the work and lets you do something else more interesting. Set your 401(k) contribution each month, set the allocation, and then go spend time with your family. Set credit cards on auto-pay, go all electronic for the statement credit and for the environment, and spend more time playing video games and watching television.

I get it and I love automation too, but there’s something you should know… automating your finances can lead to bad habits, bad habits can lead to tragic losses and big mistakes. In this Devil’s Advocate post, I explain why automating all of your finances can be an expensive mistake.

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 Personal Finance 
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Take Control of Your Financial Situation

This article is part of the series, The Summer of George- The Most Productive Summer a College Student Will Ever Have.

Do you think that you don’t earn enough money have to worry about managing your finances? If so you are dead wrong. If you get into the habit of properly managing your finances at an early age then these habits will hopefully follow you into your 30s and so on. Let this summer be known as the time where you finally took control of your financial situation.

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 Personal Finance 
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How Online Bill Payment Adds Months To Your Life

Back in the days of personal checks and monthly bills, “doing the bills” was an arduous task that took hours and hours. Back in the days of check registers and balancing a checkbook, “doing the bills” was like accounting-lite. With the advent of online checking and electronic bill payment systems, there isn’t any logical reason why you should be spending an hour or two each month dealing with bills. By setting up your bill payment details and conducting your transactions entirely online, you can add months to your life.

Thank about this… imagine you spend three hours a month dealing with bills. Three hours a month equates to a day and a half a year. That’s basically one weekend a year (unless you do your bills at work!) you lose because you are “doing the bills.” Now consider that you’ll be doing bills for most of your adult life. If you figure you live past 75, you’re talking about over a year’s worth of weekends lost just to “do the bills.” I think that when you put it in those terms, it’s quite easy to make the jump and trust online bill payment as a means to recapture your weekends.

Personally, I auto-pay as much as I can. My cell phone bill and my cable/internet bill are charged to a credit card while my mortgage and my water bill are all automatically debited from my checking account. I’m implicitly trust those entities because they’re established organizations (Sprint, Verizon, BB&T and my county government) that I would trust my banking information to. If I didn’t, sending them a check would be just as dangerous as giving them the electronic account details (I lose nothing privacy-wise by giving that information to them versus a personal check).

If I could auto-pay the balance of my credit cards, I would. I can’t do that because the credit card company doesn’t offer it because that would mean I’d never miss a payment. I’d never miss a payment and I’d always pay off in full, something I do anyway but at least this way there’s a probability I’ll miss it (and I have in the past, I’ve missed one payment but had the fee waived).


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