Un-Automating Savings

Every day, Digit texts me “Hi, Danny” and updates my balance. And every few days, it siphons a few dollars from my account and collects it for me. Better savings through technology!

Download Digit for free right here 💛💫

You might hesitate, saying, “It’s automatic? No stress or decision fatigue?”

Yes. And, for free!

“No thanks, that’s not going to happen. The app violates the principles of behaviour change, personal budgeting, and life-coaching everywhere.”

Perhaps. But automated savings can be a powerful tool for human agency, if you also take steps to un-automate it.

To see how un-automating works, let’s talk about the masochistic sport of rowing.

In rowing, the main metric is your “split,” the time it takes you to go 500 meters. Tracking your split is a quick way to gauge your progress. My best ever, about 3 years ago, was 1:47/500m. My coach, a French Canadian who was shaped like a triangle, talked about numbers constantly. He also liked to say “Your body cannot go where your mind has not been.” Anyway.

As far as team sports go, rowing in a group of eight means you are all literally in the same boat. Your teammates both enable and limit your individual progress as an athlete.

That’s why on the off-season, you practice on the ‘erg’, the indoor rowing machine—these things:

​When you’re sweating it out in the gym, trying to beat your record or keep it from a slow decline, you need to be aware of pace. Otherwise, you’ll only see how hard you need to row when the final minute starts ticking.

Enter the pace boat.

The pace boat puts you head-to-head against a TRON® rower that moves at a steady pace.

The utility of the pace boat is, you can either beat it or join it.

Now, back to savings.

My Digit app is a pace boat for a better savings habit.

Digit sends me daily texts with recent purchase amounts and savings tally, which I can comaore against my budget. Trying to keep up with budgeting goals is what leads to good habits. To put it differently, trying sometimes also means to doing. Digit allows me to set my savings pace, and it always gets the job done — right now, I “save” appx. $90/month. Still, that has nothing to do with my habit.

To outpace Digit and build a habit, I un-automated my savings.

To do my own savings even better than my bot, I use Digit as a reminder: every few days, I manually move at least as much money as the automated default.

And beyond buidlign a good habit, here’s another reason to un-automate: Digit earns a profit off of holding your money, and you should get that money instead. Hack the system by setting up automatic text replies to Digit that move your money from their account into a own high-interest savings account — like Aspiration.com, which offers a 1% interest rate. Hurray for rewarding good habits!

Make a budget, download Digit, hack it, and save money. 💚🐢

Also, remember that time is an invention, and money isn’t real.