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Are You Living Your Financial Life on Autopilot?

Are you living on autopilot?

I read a quote recently that really got my attention:

“Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.” – Donald Miller

It got me thinking. I’m a girl who uses technology when it’s truly making my life better-not necessarily just easier. I’ve come to the conclusion that easier can sometimes be overrated. Sometimes easier can draw down our base of knowledge and ability. It can even lull our sense of personal accountability. Sometimes easier-or convenience-takes away our need to think and that’s not always a good thing.

When you stop thinking about something, especially an important thing like your personal finances, it can lead to some not so great results. I ran out of check registers a while back (you know-those little ledgers that you use to balance a checkbook) and dropped by my credit union to ask for some extras. The teller looked at me and nearly laughed. She said “Sure!!! Have as many as you need! It’s too bad more people don’t use ’em!” I told her I was a bit of a nerd with our finances (as in Nerd vs Free Spirit ala Dave Ramsey) and that I felt the need to know where every penny was. She went on to tell me that she was pretty sure that most people didn’t bother to do that anymore, shaking her head sadly. I remember being surprised by this. I later mentioned the conversation to a friend who uses tech pretty heavily for bills and finances and she said-I don’t balance to the penny either. I said you don’t know how much is actually in your balance? She said “nope.” I said “Huh.”

In the last couple of years we’ve seen so many struggle in our current economy. I’ve read article after article and seen newscast after newscast about how to cut the household budget and which particular items to stop spending on. I’ve read about all the “things” to fix or cut out. I have not seen enough about the what else might be causing some of these problems in the first place. So I have some advice to consider:

Un-automate your life and stop living on autopilot.

I’m not saying to stop using technology if it’s working for you to make life easier and better. But if it’s just making life more convenient in a way that keeps you from thinking about your finances, your expenditures, what you are using, buying or doing right now and about whether it’s a good fit for your life-then it’s time to consider getting off of autopilot. Living on autopilot can leave you moving comfortably along assuming things are just fine and that the coast is clear when sometimes it’s not. It can cause you to fall asleep at the wheel of your financial life. It can rob you of your sense of how to solve challenges as they pop up. It can cause you to notice problems only when alarm bells and red warning lights are going off in the cockpit of your financial life which means something is dramatically wrong. Right NOW. Autopilot behavior and over-automating finances can cause important missed opportunities to make sure you are staying on track and avoid the alarm bells and red flashing warning lights that can cause panic and emergency mode. Living on autopilot is a lot like making the choice to not continue to make important choices as they come up. It’s making the choice to coast along. Whether we like it or not, life moves and changes, often at a more rapid pace than can be comfortable. It’s easy to want convenience. But when life is on autopilot we might just be missing the chance to make the effective changes to correct our course when it needs correcting. So if you’ve been living on autopilot and have an overly automated financial life, maybe it’s time to review whether it’s actually easier and better. If it’s not, consider un-automating some of your life and turning off the autopilot.

Are you on autopilot? Do you feel it’s an easier and better thing for your life? Has convenience caused you to not see where changes need to made? I’d love to see your comments on whether your easier is also your better!

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