Updated on 05.31.16

How My Cheese Addiction Taught Me to Automate My Savings

cheese market

Sigh… I guess that’s enough cheese. Photo: Catriona Savage

I wouldn’t consider myself an overly indulgent person. I generally eat two well­-balanced meals a day. I don’t drink very often and I walk a lot. I’m in good shape. I don’t pay for cable and I don’t wear fancy clothes. I’m a pretty simple guy.

Yet, if you put me around cheese, I will morph into a ravenous prisoner who has just been released from a hard labor camp. I will eat and eat and eat until you think I’m part of some kind of hidden camera show that aims to shock and awe through cheese-induced gluttony. Multiple people have commented on my cheese eating prowess.

“Dude, is that healthy?”

“Is that a hunk of cheese on your plate? Good lord, I thought it was a large piece of fish.”

“Does that affect your digestion?”

And on and on. It’s kind of embarrassing. Or, it would be, if I could pull myself out of the cheesy euphoria long enough to care what those people thought.

Automated Cheese Consumption

After a recent trip to Costco in which I tried and failed to convince my girlfriend that it was a cost saving measure to buy $90 worth of cheese in bulk, I finally had to accept that I had a problem. She pointed out that whether I bought $90 worth of nice Gouda or $10 worth of cheap cheddar, I ate it in the same amount of time.

That floored me. It was true. Having gobs of cheese around made me feel like Leo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall St.

Cheeeeeese party! Give me a heaping portion at every meal! Put it on my cereal! Dip it in my coffee! I had infinite cheese and I would live forever!

Except I didn’t and I won’t. It was time to accept that I was consuming way too much cheese. I had to make a change.

The solution was simple: I put my girlfriend in charge of buying the cheese. If she goes to the store and comes back with none, I have to live with it. If there is a sale, she might grab a reasonable amount (say, 16 ounces, as opposed to the platter meant for corporate parties that I would be inclined to shove in my cart).

I automated my cheese consumption. The decisions are now made by an outside party and I don’t have to waste an ounce of effort thinking about it.

This experiment got me thinking. What else do I use way too much of if it’s always around?

Spending is Easy, Saving is Hard – So Automate

Ding ding ding! Money.

Like I said before, it’s not like I’m a spendthrift. But, when I recently got a raise, my first thought was, “Maybe I can get a bigger apartment now.” It wasn’t, “Start building up your emergency fund, you dummy.”

Spending is easy. There is marketing all around us using sophisticated psychological tactics to get us to part with our hard­earned money. It’s difficult to fight against all the powerful marketing. Thankfully, automation can help us get over this hurdle.

Many banks offer to automate your savings. Chase Savings℠, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and Bank of America all have their versions, and they are all good in their own right. But, for someone like me who likes banking from my phone and is always looking for the next best app with the newest features and slickest interface, there is Digit.

Digit is an online bank with an app that links to your checking account, studies your spending habits and analyzes your cash flow. It then uses an algorithm to take money out of your checking account at times when it will seem the least intrusive. This money is stored in a savings account to be accessed at any time.

You can even text the app commands for what to do with your money, such as, “I want to save a little more.” No more excruciating hold times waiting to talk to a frustrated call center employee who sounds like he’s on the edge of a mental breakdown. Just a simple, easy to use app.

While it’s a little odd to think about a bank snooping through my spending history (I don’t want to get angry alerts every time I break down and sneak a piece of string cheese), it’s also comforting to know that someone incredibly smart is monitoring my saving so I don’t have to.

I fully embrace the app revolution, and the fact that Digit is backed by so much smart venture capital money gives me peace of mind. I like knowing that I can spend money without worrying about saving because Digit’s got my back.

To paraphrase legendary basketball coach John Wooden (and tweak it to make it even more corny):

“If you fail to plan to automate, you’re planning to automatically fail.”

Do yourself a favor and take willpower out of the equation. It is not to be trusted. Before you know it, you’re $90 poorer and in a cheese coma. Automate, my friends.

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