th-1Today I wrapped and deposited $16.50 worth of quarters, dimes and pennies from my piggy bank. Dropping all my change in there is just one of my savings challenges, i.e., a way to set a few dollars aside without too much pain.

Lately I’ve been enjoying another form of stealth savings: Digit, a personal finance app that automates withdrawals.

You link your account — some 2,500 banks and credit unions are currently set up for this — and the software figures out how your money comes in and goes out. It also figures out how much you can afford to spare, and every few days it sends money to an online bank account (Digit’s partners are Wells Fargo and BofI Federal Bank).

What interests me is the amount Digit has decided I can afford. Whereas my blogging colleague J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy reported total withdrawals of just under $200 the first month, my dealings with Digit started started small.

Very small. That first week Digit siphoned off just $7.46 – for a good reason.

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thHope you’ll join me Wednesday morning for a Tweetchat sponsored by GoBankingRates and CheapOair.

I’m attending as a guest blogger and will help provide tips on topics like low-cost student travel abroad, sticking to a travel budget, booking bargain travel, and low-cost Memorial Day activities.

You can ask questions or answer the ones posed, if you have tips to share. The chat takes place from 11 a.m. to noon PDT. Use the hashtag #COAChat.

Sorry to have maintained radio silence since last week. The weather has been glorious, which is distracting enough, but the unseasonable warmth sent the pollen count through the roof. (Think: a “high” reading times 270.) The sneezing and asthmatic wheezing, plus a couple of deadlines and ongoing anxiety caused by my daughter’s latest pregnancy, have kept me from achieving much.

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These two goals are the subjects of my recent work at MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly — and they complement each other.

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I’ve got new articles up at both my day jobs, in which I counsel how to get bonus bucks from banks and how to protect yourself in the aftermath of a car accident.

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Your ATM card is a tool, just like a credit card — or a hammer. The powers of all three can be used for good, or they can land you (or maybe just your thumb, sometimes) in a world of hurt.

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