Financial AutoPilot: Why to Just Do It

When you have talked yourself into what you want, stop talking and begin saying it with your actions.

-Napoleon Hill

 

Ever heard of money scripts? Money scripts are the core beliefs and things that set off your “money button.” How does money make you feel? What role does it have in your life? Do you pursue money and think you can’t have enough? Do you wish money didn’t exist but accept that you need some? Psychologist Bradly Klontz made 4 general groups of people and how we respond to money.

  • Money Status: When you believe your net-worth equals your self-worth
  • Money Worship: Happiness is contingent upon having enough money
  • Money Avoidance: Money is bad, and it causes you anxiety
  • Money Vigilance: When you see yourself as your money’s Lord and carefully handle and direct its flow

Understanding your money script will help you see where some of your struggles lie. Everyone is weak, and everyone is human, but we also have some amazing strengths. We can recognize our weaknesses and find ways to avoid them, improve them, and sometimes overcome them and make them strengths. Key is: there is a struggle; people struggle to do things when they take a lot of mental effort and consistency. So, here’s the secret.

Put yourself on autopilot.

Let me say that one more time.

Put Yourself On Auto-Pilot

What do you think of when you think of an autopilot? If you saw something that was automated, perhaps driving or flying, without the need for constant human supervision, then you are on to something great.

As soon as your idea is strong enough to have a goal and a beginning action, don’t delay, put it into autopilot. Why do you struggle to wake up in the morning? Why can’t you stick to going to the gym? Why are you worried you can’t buy a house or go to college? It’s because you either didn’t start, or you didn’t follow through.

Here is how to put yourself on Autopilot, Financially:

1) Prioritize

First: Set your priorities. Where does your money belong? In 2-3 short sentences, or 5-6 individual words, summarize the most important things to allocate your precious hard earned Washingtons.

2) Where do you stand?

Second: List all of your obligations monthly. Figure out your debt, income, savings, and lastly, estimate how much you spend on different areas. Add it up. Does more money go out than in? Does more money get spent on areas you don’t want them to be?

According to Success.com‘s author Tom Corley, here is a standard budget draft you can think about to where you money goes and it looks something like this.

  • 25% maximum on rent/mortgage
  • 15% max on food
  • Limit entertainment (you know what that is) to 10% , Vacations should top out at 5%
  • No more than 5% on auto loans

In addition to these Guidlines here are a few more from my notebooks and practice

  • save 12-15% of your money for retirement (If you’re saving 10% and your company matches 3-5% then you’re good!)
  • Donate 10% of your income to charities that you love.
  • Get an accountability partner for your spending that you can share goals, numbers, and facts with

3) Auto Pay

Third: Auto Pay. Here is how many people try making their money work.
This is called “Mental Accounting.” It is a horrible thing.

The Real Slim Shady

Normal Person Mental Accounting

The problem with managing our money like this is all of your money is in the same place! We are normally poor at mentally accounting for our money. I won’t attempt an explanation of how, but the book, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes by Gary Belsky & Thomas Gilovich will give you great insight to the many pitfalls of mental accounting, in addition to many other common money mistakes.

Alternative: This is called budgeting, and planning, and auto-piloting. It’s amazing! With mental accounting, if you have $500 (for simplicity sake) in your Selfish Money account for the month, then you know, I have that much money and it’s for whatever I want. When it’s gone, it is GONE. But I recommend going one step further, and this is called AutoPilot mode.

Establish separate accounts to be used. With your money in a different location it can’t be spent on what it isn’t budgeted for. Here’s how you can harness the power of Voluntary Automation (doesn’t that sound blissful?):

After Shady been slimmed

Each is it’s own account?

What if, when you got your paycheck, you set the money to AutoPay certain quantities to other accounts: 10% to retirement, $1400 for the mortgage, $500 a month for student debt, $200 selfish money, etc etc etc. The credit card in your pocket is only linked to the “Selfish Money” account, and the card you keep in your dash for fuel is linked to your car payment and gas money account. None are linked to the mortgage account, because the bank takes the money out of that account each month. I’m making this happen with several bank accounts and auto transfers set up.

Basically, the money is out of sight, out of mind (and you now have a license to be at peace. *Poof* Peaceful dust descends upon you).

There are many apps that can conglomerate multiple accounts so you can have a snapshot of how much money you have at any given point in all the accounts, or help you refine how much money you allocate to different accounts over time.

Then, once a year when you check your accounts, you can clear out the extra money to savings, more retirement, or maybe a surprise Christmas present.

4) Lastly: Stop checking your accounts daily! Stop checking your investments, your stocks, your 401(k)’s, your Roth’s, your {InsertYourAccountNameHere}. Just STOP. Although many want to argue differently- your human fear is going to have you selling things when they are dropping in value, and buying things that are rising in value.
The reason why is because of the Stair Effect. Over time stocks are going up, but experience highs and lows throughout the incline. This is because as you step up a stair, one foot follows the other, rising and falling, rising and falling, over and over and over. Walking up stairs doesn’t scare you, because you know you’re going to go up.
Investing should be like Christmas, or your birthday; best thought about for about 1 month a year, (all you people that play Christmas music in November… I’ve got my eye on you). Try this: pick the month (fine, semi-annually is acceptable) when you allow yourself to look at your accounts and mark it on your calendars.

 

Now you can kick back, relax, and go back to your beautiful life with one less item of stress going on in your mind. What ideas have you used to put yourself on Auto Pilot? I’d love to add to this list of ways to put yourself on autopilot! If you have an ideas, or critiques please let me know in the comments or email me:  https://jacobbradjohnson.wordpress.com/contact/
If this is helpful let me know also!

— Jacob Johnson is a student of personal financial planning (PFP) at Utah Valley University. He enjoys Oreos and Bacon with the occasional bowl of muesli and wakes up to read Napoleon Hill as a start to his day. He is an adept listener of Behavior Gap radio by Carl Richards, loves the blog of WorkableWealth by Mary Beth Storjohann, and ponders Jeff Rose the Finance Warrior’s blogs also.

— Our guest editor is Rebekah! She is a phenomenal editor with a degree in creative writing. She is such a blessing and help in defining what the purpose of a writing is, and helping individuals to craft language to not be redundant (well, at least in my case). Thank you Rebekah!

 

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