Strengthening passwords, setting up automatic transfers, and other techie resolutions

In the spirit of new-year-ishness, I made a couple of housekeeping decisions this week to keep things running smoothly in 2014. (I almost said “tickety-boo,” but then I realized I’m not eighty … yet)
Since we’re very digital people — you don’t even want to KNOW how many gadgets we own, seriously — we do all of our banking online. A lot of our bills are automatic taken out of our accounts or our credit card, but a few still have to be paid online manually.
Our system has always been that everytime someone opens a bill (whether it’s emailed or dropped into our mailbox), that person immediately goes to our shared Google calendar called “Bills” and enters the amount. We put it in for a few days before it’s actually due, to account for delays. 
Then every day, we glance at the calendar — if something needs to be manually paid, the person who pays it marks “PAID” in the entry. So “Pay Telus bill ($100)” gets edited to read “PAID — Telus bill ($100).” This, uh, was the result of BOTH OF US paying the same bill on the same day. More than once. Ahem.
Sounds like a pretty good system, right? Well, no. It wasn’t perfect. Sometimes we’d look at the bill but forget to enter it into the calendar. Sometimes we’d forget to pay it completely, because neither of us looked at the system. And we have a few payments (like Netflix and Freshbooks — the accounting software I use for my business) coming automatically off our credit card, and then I’d never remember to go in and pay them off.
So! Onward and upward. Here are the few things I’ve recently tweaked as we roll into 2014 …
  • I set up more automatic transfers. If the credit card is getting dinged $25 on the 11th of every month, then I set up an automatic payment of $25 to the credit card on the 11th of every month. It’s things like this that will hopefully keep me from, uh, forgetting to pay it?
  • I added an additional automatic savings transfer. All of our “long-term” savings (RRSPs, RESPs, etc.) are already automatically coming out of our accounts at various points each month, but I always had a note in my calendar to transfer money to my “Gift” account a few times a month. I started off strong, and then I’d get into the old “Oh, well, I just bought so-and-so a gift and used my debit card, so I just won’t bother transferring money to that account and then it’s even.” Well, that wasn’t a good idea, because then I stopped transferring it entirely. So I just set up an automatic $50/week payment to go into my special (and barely used) “Gifts” account. Then the *idea* is that whenever I need to buy a birthday gift for someone, I’ll buy it using my debit card/credit card and then go home and transfer that exact amount from the gift account. It also means that when Christmas shopping time rolls around (for me, that’s August/September), I’ll have a pile of money to roll around in and use. And $50/week equals $2,600 a year, which is surely (probably? definitely?) more than we’d spend on gifts in a year, but I’ve never been good about keeping track of that, so we’ll see.
  • I re-colour-coded the “Bills” calendar. All of our entries for bills used to be in red, so we’d NOTICE THEM and stuff. But I went back through and changed all of the automatic payments/transfers to blue. We can still see that they’re happening, but we can also tell that blue = don’t have to do anything. Red still means HEY, YOU, DO SOMETHING!
  • I beefed up our passwords. I’m pretty good about passwords in the sense that I never use the same password for any two things — unlike my dear sister, who probably uses one password for every possible thing ever. I like using a password schema, so part of it is the same and part of it reflects the thing you’re trying to access. But I’d been using my old system for a couple of years now, so I changed it completely and went through the TEDIOUS process of changing it in every account. Now I’m (hopefully?) less of a target for having my identity/money/emails stolen? If anyone were to care enough to do that?
How’s that for techie resolutions? Have I inspired any of you to “nerd up” and digitalize your lifey this year? Or am I just WAY too obsessed with Google calendars? (I really, really am)

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