We’ve all been there. You have a bit of extra cash at the end of the month and can’t quite decide what to do with it. We know what we should do with it, but sometimes it is hard not to think of something fun to do with the extra dough. What if we could avoid this situation? What if we could stop tempting ourselves and make sure we do the right thing with our money? Well, I have good news. You kinda can; all you need to do is go M.I.A. on your finances.
What is M.I.A.?
You might be thinking going M.I.A. means abandoning your finances. I can assure you that it’s quite the opposite. When going M.I.A. on your finances, you’re Making It Automatic! Yup, it’s that simple. By paying bills automatically and a few other options, you can ensure you’ll be making wise financial decisions, you won’t have a choice!
What Can I go M.I.A. On?
There are many bills and other monetary obligations that you can set up to be paid automatically. Here are a few examples and why going M.I.A. on them is a good idea.
Credit cards bills are sometimes a little too easy to not pay in full, but they absolutely should be. When looking at a credit card bill, that little “minimum payment” looks so much nicer than paying in full. Well, that’s what the credit card company wants. Every month you don’t pay in full is that much more they get paid in interest. Look at the interest rates next time you get a credit card statement, they are astronomical, like 16% or so. Make these payments automatic to make sure you don’t lose money due to interest or late fees.
Loans – Plus Extra
Another common financial obligation can be loans. This could be a car loan, student loan, or just an ordinary personal loan. The monthly payment on most loans remains the same through the course of the loan, but you don’t want to get stuck with late fees if you forget for a few days. Make sure you have these set to automatically get paid so you don’t get hit with one.
While we’re on loans, it’s always a good idea to pay a little extra every month. Even putting just an additional $10 a month can shave significant time off the amount of interest you’ll pay on a loan. So go M.I.A. by automatically tacking on a little bit of an extra payment on your loans each month and watch the debt disappear!
Mortgage – Plus Extra
Similar to the previous section, mortgages are another excellent area to go M.I.A. to avoid late fees and tack on some additional funds to the payment. By making one extra payment per year, you can take up to 7 years off the length of your mortgage! That can equate to tens of thousands of dollars saved, and the sooner you start making the extra payments, the more interest you save.
With the same line of thought as avoiding late fees and other penalties, putting other bills on autopay can be beneficial. Costs such as your cell phone, cable, or utilities typically have auto-pay options, and some even offer discounts for customers that sign up for them.
Investing might be one of the most important and beneficial parts of your finances to go M.I.A. on. It can be difficult to put extra money or any money into investing since the gains we see on them are long-term, and most of us prefer instant gratification. By automatically putting money into your brokerage account each money, there is no thought process or struggle with delaying your gratification. By consistently investing each month, your portfolio will grow much faster and to loftier heights, future you will be thankful past you decided to go M.I.A. on investing;
Will Make You Adjust And Spend Better
“But wait!” you say, “I don’t have extra money at the end of the month. I can’t put some of these items on autopay!”. Well, here’s the kicker, you’d be surprised how easily and quickly you can adjust your spending when your money automatically goes to other places. By putting extra money toward a loan, mortgage, or investing, you’ll be forced to make yourself a better budgeter and watch your spending. Try it for a few months, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
In addition to having funds automatically go to your brokerage account, there are DRIPs(Dividend ReInvestment Plans) for many funds available. By enrolling in a funds DRIP, you won’t have to worry about what to do with your distributions each quarter, and again, future you will be thankful for the additional wealth you’ve created by doing so.
This Doesn’t Mean Not To Keep An Eye On Your Accounts
Now, just because you have your finances on auto-pilot doesn’t mean you should just blindly pay them. Mistakes happen, companies will start charging more for the same services, and other unforeseen events will need to be taken care of. Keep an eye on your accounts to make sure the charges and amount continue to make sense and fit your budget. If something does come up, you can fix it or move funds around to make sure that you don’t have an overdraft on an account.
By going M.I.A. on your finances, not only will you ensure you’ll avoid late fees and other penalties, you’ll force yourself to budget better and better allocate your money. Investing automatically can also significantly accelerate your investing rate and weather building. So the next time you have any extra cash or want to make your money work for you, remember to Make It Automatic!
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.