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7 ways to use automation and bill smoothing to become a budget pro

Automating your finances is a strong way to stick to your budget and financial goals. If you find yourself paying bills late or aren’t saving enough, automation can make all the difference in managing your money.
4 minute read

Fashion designer Tom Ford once said, ‘time and silence are the most luxurious things today.’ He had a point too. Why waste time on your finances when it could be better spent elsewhere?

As well as freeing up time, automation has the potential to save you late fees if you forget to pay a bill. Automating is modern money management at its finest.

When you automate your bills, you’re effectively setting up your payments to be paid automatically every week, fortnight or month; it’s like putting your money on autopilot.

With online banking and payment apps like RentPay, automation is not only possible but easy and can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes to set up. A few minutes invested in setting up schedules can save you time, late fees and stress over a year.

But what can I automate?

If it’s a bill or a financial goal, chances are you can automate it.

  • Bills:  Rent, mortgage, energy bills, credit cards, loans and insurance.
  • Savings and investments: Your emergency fund, plus short and long-term savings.

But first, remember this:

  • Don’t automate bad habits. They will only get worse. Fix your spending habits first
  • Automation is not an excuse to neglect your finances. Keep on top of the money flows in and out of your accounts.

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7 steps to use automation to get your money in order

1 - Quick check-in. Where are you at with your money? Be brutally honest.

Can you pay every bill on time without concern, or are you struggling with a couple of payments? Do you have reminders set up to avoid missing a payment? Do you frequently pay a couple of days late on some bills?

Automating some of your payments is a great tactic if you’re financially sound and can comfortably pay your bills each month. If you don’t always have enough money to cover your bills, hold off on automating for now.

Top tip: List out your monthly bills. Include the biller, the amount and the due date. Set up scheduled transfers between accounts to meet your goals.

2 -  Work out your payment categories

Once you’ve worked out your regular bills, group them into a couple of categories: energy, household and insurance. Decide if you want to automate or manually manage that category.

Do you have credit card debt? These typically come with high late fees, so they’re a good candidate for automated repayments. Try to pay more than the minimum repayment and automate this amount to be transferred each payday.

Top tip: Automate your energy bills with RentPay’s bill smoothing feature. Rather than paying in one lump sum at the end of each quarter, you pay a set amount every week, fortnight or month towards your energy bill, which is calculated on your average usage.

3 - Set up a schedule

The most effective way to handle this whole process is to have money automatically transferred from your everyday account the day after each payday. Doing this ensures you’ll have money available to transfer. The bonus? You can live off the remaining amount, knowing your future bills and loan repayments are covered. Remember, the schedule timing will depend on whether you’re paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

4 - Schedule your payments and transfers

If you’re a RentPay customer, smoothing your Origin energy bills (gas and electricity) into regular, automated payments is simple. If you’re not already onboard, sign up to RentPay online through the RentPay app, input your Origin account number, and get up to $5 a week cashback (or $260 a year). RentPay also takes care of your rental payments so you don’t have to.

For all other bills, log onto your online bank and schedule the amounts you want to be transferred from your everyday account. Simple!

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5 - Automate your emergency fund account

Go one step further and have a % of your paycheck automatically sent to your emergency fund. By automating your savings transactions, this deposit will be made right away and you won’t need to worry about spending this money, forgetting to make a transfer or not having enough to contribute to these accounts.

6 - Stay on top of your bill due dates

A good tip is to understand when your bills are due, in relation to when you get paid. This will help ensure you have the funds available and you’ll avoid any late fees off the back of insufficient funds. No one wants an overdrawn account or bank fees! To keep your bills in check, create a budget calendar. It’s basically a budget in calendar form that will help you remember your due dates. Check with your service providers to see if they’ll let you choose your payment date.

7 - Set a date to review your bank account (and statements)

A good practice worth having is to check your account statements each month in advance of your automatic bill payments. It’s worth popping in a calendar reminder every so often to review your bills and your budget.

Let’s sum up!

Automating your finances might take a minute to set up, but it’s well worth the effort! Having everything set up means you’re far less likely to slip on your financial goals. Remember to set up direct deposits, automatic any savings and investments, create a budget and schedule your payments in line with payday.

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