April 11, 2012

Robots Pay My Bills

It's been awhile since we had any Money Posts up here - and that's really because not too much is happening. Without a house sale, our finances remain stable {mostly}. To help prep us for some long term travel, and get us in the green for some savings... we're working on a couple of things financially:

1. Saving Money! 
You're shocked, I know. People who want to travel are saving money? Yep.
We started putting all of our extra cash into a {previously empty} savings account. All the money we got from Kijiji + Amazon + Extra stuff is in there. Our tax return $$ will go in there too. We've sold around $3000 of stuff {includes some things from the business that we owned} and will get almost $5000 in a tax refund. That puts us at almost $8000 saved - and we're still paying our mortgage! We're already 53% of the way to our 'Have this or don't get on a Plane' amount.

2. Automated Finance
Here's where the robots come in. After reading lots of money blogs/advice {Like This or This or This} I'm trying to shift my finances to be fully automated. Here's why:
- I'm lazy/disorganized and I don't want to forget bills or pay them late
- I know I'm going to pay all my bills, so why not have the robots do it for me?
- Bills still get paid if you're not around the internet
- It keeps my budgeting organized and on track - bazinga!

I've already gone into my love for Mint {budgeting software} and it's awesome auto-categorizing, so this is just taking it one step further:

For my home:
- I called VISA to have the minimum payments for both of our credit cards come out of our account on the 15th. I can still make additonal payments on my own towards the principle {which we are still paying down}, but we'll never forget to pay.
-  My cell phone bill & utilities bills do the same, except the full payment for these come out every month
- A small RRSP savings transfer is made at the end of the month
- Property taxes & condo fees are paid automatically on a monthly basis

I still do all of our savings transfers & principle payments on credit cards manually. Mint categorizes all of my spending, so I can then review all of the payments that have been made and calculate my excess income for savings/debt repayment.

For our rental property:
- Post-dated cheques from my renters were given to the bank to be deposited on the 1st of the month
- Mortgage, utilities, condo fees, property taxes all come out automatically
This system is completely automated and I do nothing to it but monitor it monthly.

This has been a great way for us to ensure that all of our bills were being prioritized and paid immediately, as well as itemized and monitored on Mint. It leaves us with a clear number at the end of every month that we can use towards our goals. Currently, we're using this excess money to pay down debt through a snowball approach {Try this Snowball Calculator!}, and using a snowflake approach to our savings - it will adjust alongside our situation.

**Final Note** Budgeting as a couple can be a nightmare sometimes. Everyone has different views and hangups about money, and secrecy is the kryptonite of a good budget. COMMUNICATION is KEY! We need to have 'budget meetings' monthly to review the status of our accounts, our goals and spending ;) **

How do you budget your money? If you are living internationally - how do you manage your money abroad? Money and budgets are a huge portion of travel prep, so we're glad to be taking some steps to move forward... now we just have to get rid of this house and mortgage!!


  1. to be honest, i dont do well managing money! especially while living in expensive norway. i have hardly any extra $$ ever and what i do have goes towards food. i have learned that i must stop shopping for clothes and things of that sort. all of that previous money goes to affording to travel.

    i wish i could offer some good advice here but i cant ;) before moving to europe i planned poorly and instead of selling everything, i just gave it away. terrible terrible terrible! i could have made a lot of money! good luck to yall! sounds like yall are on the right path!!!

    a: yea that movie letters to juliet did really suck. LOL i only put it was semi cute so i didnt totally offend some of the people who read my blog (which it turns out all have hated it anyways!) it did NOT cost money. i wouldnt have paid it! it did cost to go to the balcony, but i would never have paid a dime for that.

  2. I automated my finances a couple years ago after reading Ramit's book - I've never looked back since!


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