Kick-Start Your Goals: 4 Money Tasks to Automate This Year


keyboard with colored money keyBy now, you’ve probably compiled your list of New Year’s financial resolutions and are raring to tackle them, whether they include finally paying off that credit card or beefing up your long-neglected nest egg.

But let’s face it—how long is your motivation likely to last? Will you still be so gung-ho six weeks down the line? Six months down the line?

One way to help improve the chances you’ll make good on your financial goals is to set—but not forget!—as many of them as you can. Indeed, in Fidelity’s 2016 New Year Financial Resolutions study, 47% of people who most successfully stuck to their money resolutions last year said automation helped them stay the course.

And heck, if you can put your coffeepot and cat feeder into auto mode to make your life a little easier, why not do the same for your finances?

To help you get started, we’ve rounded up four financial tasks you should consider automating in the New Year so you can start building a solid foundation for your money in 2016.

1. Your Retirement Contributions

What’s that, you say? Your work offers a 401(k) retirement plan—and you haven’t enrolled in it yet?

If that’s the situation, consider signing up tout de suite—the longer you put off saving for retirement, the less time you have to take advantage of compound growth.

Ideally, you’d be able to contribute the maximum percentage of your salary that your employer is willing to match, but even starting with 1% is better than nothing. “Chances are, you won’t miss 1% of your salary,” says Cecilia Beach Brown, a Certified Financial Planner™ at Annapolis, Maryland–based C. Beach Brown.

If you don’t have access to a 401(k) or simply don’t want to limit yourself to one retirement account, you can set up automatic contributions to an IRA, says John Piershale, CFP® with Piershale Financial Group in Crystal Lake, Ill. “Just be sure not to exceed the annual maximum limit of $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re age 50 or older, for 2016,” he cautions.

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