What Is Automatic Investing? How To Automate Your Investing in 5 Steps

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How can some savvy investors effortlessly grow their wealth while you’re caught in the hustle of daily financial decisions? 

Enter the world of automatic investing—a game-changer in wealth accumulation. 

This guide explores automatic investing, offering a blueprint for financial success in five simple steps. Whether you’re a seasoned investor looking to refine your strategy or a newcomer eager to harness the power of automation, this article is for you. 

What is automatic investing?

Automatic investing, also known as automated or systematic investing, refers to an investor setting up a predetermined plan to invest a fixed amount of money at regular intervals. This approach is often associated with long-term, disciplined investing and is facilitated through various financial tools and platforms.

Key features of automatic investing include:

  • Regular contributions: Investors contribute a fixed amount of money at regular intervals (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) to their investment portfolio. By maintaining a consistent approach, investors can practice dollar-cost averaging—buying more shares at lower prices and fewer at higher prices.
  • Automation: The process is automated, meaning that investors set up their investment plan and let the system execute it without requiring frequent manual intervention. Automation can be achieved through employer-sponsored retirement plans, robo-advisors, or brokerage accounts with automatic investment features.
  • Diversification: Automatic investing often involves diversifying investments across various assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.). This diversification helps spread risk and can be part of a well-rounded investment strategy.
  • Long-term focus: This strategy is generally associated with a long-term investment horizon. By consistently investing over time, investors aim to benefit from the compounding of returns and navigate the ups and downs of the market.
  • Reduced emotional decision-making: Automation can help reduce the impact of emotional decision-making. Investors may be less likely to react impulsively to market fluctuations as the automated process continues regardless of short-term market volatility.

Five Steps To Automate Your Investing

Step 1: Define your financial goals

Start by being clear on what you want to achieve financially. Whether saving for your dream vacation, buying a home, or planning for retirement, crafting well-defined goals provides a roadmap for your investment strategy. 

Additionally, consider the timeline for each goal and the level of risk you’re comfortable with. You might lean towards more conservative investments for shorter-term goals, while long-term goals could involve a more aggressive approach. Understanding your financial aspirations is the first crucial step in crafting an investment plan that aligns well with your life objectives.

Step 2: Create a budget

Crafting a budget is like mapping out the terrain before embarking on a journey. Evaluate your monthly income, track your expenses, and identify areas where you can allocate funds towards investments. 

A well-structured budget not only ensures that you’re living within your means but also allows you to determine how much you can invest consistently. By understanding your financial landscape, you can make informed decisions about where to cut back or save more, laying the groundwork for a sustainable and realistic investment strategy.

Step 3: Choose the right investment accounts

Selecting the right investment accounts is a pivotal decision that shapes the foundation of your financial strategy. The array of available accounts can be overwhelming, but understanding their nuances will help you tailor your approach to suit your unique circumstances.

  • Employer-sponsored retirement plans: For many, employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s or 403(b)s are the bedrock of long-term financial planning. These plans offer tax advantages, often involving pre-tax contributions that reduce your taxable income. 

Some employers may even match your contributions to a specific percentage, providing free money to boost your retirement savings. Automatic contributions can be seamlessly deducted from your paycheck, fostering a set-it-and-forget-it mentality that supports consistent long-term investing.

  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Individual Retirement Accounts, both Traditional and Roth, provide additional avenues for tax-advantaged savings. Traditional IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, allowing your contributions to potentially lower your taxable income today. 

Meanwhile, Roth IRAs enable tax-free withdrawals in retirement, offering flexibility and potential tax advantages. Choosing between them involves considering your current tax situation and your expectations for future tax liabilities.

  • Taxable brokerage accounts: If your financial goals extend beyond retirement, taxable brokerage accounts offer flexibility in accessing funds without the constraints of retirement account rules. While lacking the tax advantages of retirement accounts, they provide liquidity and the freedom to use your money without penalties. This type of account is suitable for shorter-term goals or complementing tax-advantaged accounts.

Step 4: Select investments and asset allocation

With your accounts in place, the next step is to decide where to put your money. When selecting investments, consider your risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals. Many investors opt for diversified or index funds, which offer exposure to a broad range of assets. 

Asset allocation, or the combination of stocks, bonds, and other securities in your portfolio, is crucial in managing risk. Balancing your investments in alignment with your risk appetite and long-term goals is key to creating a well-rounded and resilient portfolio.

Step 5: Set up automatic contributions

Most financial institutions and automatic investing platforms provide easy tools to schedule regular transfers from your bank account. This automation ensures consistency in your investing approach and removes the need for constant manual intervention. 

For employer-sponsored retirement plans, take advantage of automatic contributions directly from your paycheck, streamlining the process and making it even more hands-free. Automating your contributions helps instill financial discipline, making it easier to stick to your investment plan over the long term. Regularly review and adjust your plan as needed, adapting to changes in your financial situation or shifting goals.

Embracing automation streamlines your financial life and cultivates habits that lead to long-term prosperity. As your investments grow, so does your potential for financial freedom and security, making the journey toward your financial goals more achievable and rewarding.