Both I and my valuist wife are busy working professionals with lot of things going on in our lives. Having two children, a house, jobs, investments, etc make life busy and exciting at the same time. So we decided to check on different options such that the simple mundane tasks in life are automated and require very little of our attention. It would leave us with a significant amount of time to do things more enjoyable.
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Here are the automations we did in our life that freed up some of our time.
Automatic Bill Pay & Savings
As simple as paying utility bills, credit card bills, subscription fees and even paying rent or mortgage was a very manual process about 5 years ago in our lives. These activities would require me to sit in front of a computer or write checks, put them in an envelope and mail them. With the improvements in technology and security measures implemented by the banks and credit card companies, it made complete sense to automate it by implementing autopay or bill pay feature provided by these companies at no additional cost. Obviously, we need to know when the bills are due and sufficient funds are available in our accounts. For this, we relied on a simple app called Mint. We implemented the same strategy to automatically transfer money to our online savings account.
With the advent of Robo-Advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront, the investment management process was also simplified. Robo advisors are designed to work in such a way so as to optimize your investment strategy. While opening an account, at one of these Robo-Advisor companies, you are posed with a series of questions and depending on how you answer them, your investment profile is created. They automatically adjust your portfolio based on market performances and since they are robots/AI without a physical person the fees are considerably low. A second option is to setup recurring transfers to Index Funds offered by Vanguard and Fidelity. These are considered long term investments and they index the performance of stocks over a number of large or mid sized companies. History has shown that market value tends to go up and with these low cost Index Funds there is very little to actively manage.
Smart home Automation
Turning lights on when it gets dark may not sound too much to do when you think about it but it does need us to physically do it. With the advancement in Internet of Things (IoT) we are able to automate it. I installed few smart lights around the house, inside and outside, that turn on and off based on a schedule. The advantage being we didn’t have to be home to do and moreover not have to walk into a dark house. At the same time, we also installed Ecobee smart thermostat which detects presence and if no activity is noticed, it would automatically switch to “away” mode thus saving on heating and cooling costs. Take a look here on ways this device can save on energy costs. There are many other options such as Nest, Honeywell, etc which could cost higher than a regular programmable thermostat but with their advanced feature the cost is justifiable.
What other automations have you implemented in your lives? Please leave your comments below as I would love to hear about them and possibly implement in our lives.