Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The power of automation

During the last 24 hours, yes even during work, I was reflecting on the importance and power of automating as an artist and in personal finance.

As an artist automation is important in posting and sharing artwork. I haven't made any browser scripts for getting artwork on POD sites, but I'll use RSS feeds and different services to repost new artwork to tumbler, my Google plus page, Pinterest, linkedin, etc. which leaves me with only a few other sites to directly share to via browser bookmarks.  Yes, it took time to set up and requires retooling when a service closes its doors, but when you are busy creating it is necessary.

The use of macros or "actions" in Photoshop as well as scripting also help with resizing images and applying effects. Again this also requires maintenance, but it is much faster than going through the steps one by one if you can even remember them.

In personal finance automation is essential since I don't have the time nor the desire to track every peso I spend. Instead I automatically put aside money to different accounts through direct withdrawals I have set up. This is great when you have a regular job or know that you'll make at least a certain amount of money every month.  A tiny amount (about what you'd spend on a value meal at Burger King or McDonald's) automatically goes every week to my AFORE (similar to an IRA) and every week a larger amount goes to an account that invests in the equivalent of treasury bills. While it isn't a lot of money, it makes a difference over the year and helps prepare me for emergencies and whatever else might come my way.  I know there are people who are truly just getting by without internet, cell phones, etc. who can't save), the rest of us can automate at least a little savings which we eventually get used to and if it is low (say less than 20%) we probably don't even notice it is being taken out after a few months.
If you are saving for larger goals like buying a house, land or early retirement (or you just started saving late for regular retirement)  I'd encourage you to set a higher percent when setting up your automated savings and investment.  30-40% is good for many people who don't want to go extreme but have important savings goals. If it is automated, you'd be more likely to stick with it when your bank account starts to get low because it would require effort to pause, cancel or adjust it as opposed to the effort taken to make the bank transfer to move the money on a regular basis.

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