You may not want to admit it, but we all have limited willpower. Whether it’s eating right or finishing a big project, our self-control is depleted from the tough decision we make throughout the day. This is why the most respected personal finance experts are advocates of automation, like David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, and Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Why use your limited decision fuel on banking decisions when you can create systems and focus on building your dream life instead?
Here’s how to do it:
1. Set recurring transfers from checking to savings. Create a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account. How much and how often you want to transfer money is up to you, but most experts recommend setting aside 10 to 15 percent of your income.
2. Put bills on autopay. If you’ve ever forgotten to pay a bill on time, you know the sting of paying late fees. Set up your checking account to automatically pay recurring bills so you never have to feel it again.
3. Set up text alerts. Customize your online banking settings to text or email you when your account balance falls below a certain threshold. If you receive an alert, you can move your money around to cover any upcoming bills well before they go through.
4. Create an overdraft safety net. Opt-in to your institution’s overdraft protection program so you never have to worry about going into the red again. Most protection programs require a certain amount of money be kept in your savings and charge a fee if you go over your balance, but it’s less than the average $30 overdraft fee.
With these tools at your disposal, there’s no good reason to waste your willpower with savings decisions. By automating your savings, you can use your mental energy to achieve long-term goals like sticking to your new workout routine or getting that promotion you want at work.
Editor’s note: This post previously published on December 16, 2014.