Perhaps ‘lazy’ is not the correct adjective, but if you are looking for a simple, sleek, and financially savvy plan that you can set and leave alone, then this is the article for you. If the thought of actively managing several bucket accounts, or trading stocks (after watching stock tickers or CNN each day) just doesn’t appeal to you, it doesn’t matter. You are still able to be a financially savvy person and have all of your ducks in a row.
These steps will take a little effort in the beginning, but if you do this, then you are looking at years of freedom from paper bills clogging up your mailbox, filling out applications, or even looking at your checking account (if done correctly). So spend the afternoon getting down to business, then forget about everything and let your finances happen.
Automate Everything—3 Hours
Visit your HR department at work, and fill out the paperwork to automatically deposit your paychecks into your checking account. You will need ID and a check for the routing number and bank account number (sometimes they need to void the check and attach it with your paperwork).
Collect all of the bills that come in throughout the next month, and write them down on a sheet of paper, along with either a customer service telephone number, or a website. Set aside two hours, and call each of these service providers or go online to their websites and set up automatic payment, either through a charge to your credit card, or through your bank account (if using your bank account, be sure to have a check handy so that you can fill in the routing number and account number). This will ensure all of your bills are paid on time (as long as you keep sufficient funds in them) without you having to put any thought into it.
Set Up an Email Bill Account—1 Hour
Are you tired of getting all of these bills in the mail anyway? Set up a new email account for free, and designate this as your bill account. As you automate everything in the above step, tell the service provider, or click on a box on the websites, to go paperless. Then, set your email address to this new email account. If you ever need to look at a bill for any reason, you can simply log into this account and check it out. However, you could potentially never see a bill again if you didn’t want to (how tempting!).
Open a Savings Account with Automatic Withdrawal—1/2 Hour
ING Direct is a great savings account with an easy user interface, and automatic withdrawals are free. After you open a savings account, connect your checking account where your paycheck is automatically deposited with this account. Then, set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into your savings account each month. You can also do this twice a month, or other time frame you wish. I recommend setting this up for the beginning of the month, as you will earn more interest this way over the life of the savings account.
ING Direct will need to verify your checking account before it can connect. You will need to come back in a few days and spend another ten minutes with the instructions that ING Direct sends you for verification purposes.
Open a Credit Card with Cashback—2 Hours
For the person who does not want to log in and choose rewards to have mailed to them, as well as pays off their balance in full each month and thus never pays a finance charge, a cashback card is a great option for you. These credit cards will earn you money from each purchase, and automatically send you a check after you have earned a certain amount (if you select this as your payment option). You can also set the credit card bill payment up to automatically come out of your checking account each month. Make sure to choose a card with no annual fee. Apply for it, activate it, swipe it, be on your way, and once or twice a year receive a check in the mail.
Open a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA—1 Hour
Planning for your future is extremely important, but it can also be very easy and automated. I personally use the Vanguard Target 2045 fund, which automatically allocates certain percentages of my portfolio to various areas (such as stocks, bonds, etc.) in accordance with my age and thus what risk level I should be at. Target funds are also found at brokerage firms such as Fidelity. Open an account, link your checking account to your retirement account, then designate a certain amount of money to automatically be withdrawn into your IRA each month (or twice a month, depending on what you would like).
After doing each of these steps, the only time you should need to look at your accounts is at the end of the year to see how much interest you have earned (if you are curious), as well as when you get promotions/bonuses so that you can allocate more money into your savings/IRA. You will also need to update your automatic bill payments if you sign up for new services, switch services, etc.
Sit back, relax, and let time and compound interest do its job. Good luck!