Compare two people trying to get an edge in life after starting with debt.

John focuses on small wins: removing little costs wherever possible. He sets up a budget. He cuts back on his daily lattes. He doesn’t buy new clothes. He doesn’t go out much.

Chris focuses on big wins: a few things he can do once that will pay him back forever. He negotiates multiple salary increases, including a $20,000 raise. He negotiates his rent from $2,000 per month down to $1,500 per month.

What’s the difference between the two?

Chris is, in fact, a real person. A national reporter wrote about him in a six-page Fortune profile. Today, he earns $120,000 and has tens of thousands in savings. He leveraged the philosophy of big wins to do a few easy things that got him a life-changing impact. As a result, he can now do the things in life that make him feel rich.

John isn’t a real person, but he represents the conventional wisdom of finance experts: frugality. No lattes! No new clothes! No appetizers! Constantly say no to all the little expenses. This approach fails because it requires you to build a difficult habit that you keep for life. We deplete our willpower every time we say no to the little things in life that make us feel rich. This is the reason why many people who try this approach eventually give up.

My team and I have spent the last 12 years searching for these big wins, testing which ones actually work, and teaching them to tens of thousands of students in my courses and to millions of readers on my blog.

The best personal finance big win that we’ve ever come across is automating your finances. By automatically managing your money month after month with a system, you work with your psychology instead of against it. As a result, you save money for your retirement and for guilt-free spending.

With this big win, if you take the average American household income of $72,641, you’d save $726 a month for the rest of your life.

Here are the exact steps you need to take so your money automatically flows to where it needs to go:

First, you want to set up a monthly automatic deduction from your paycheck to your 401(k). Not sure how much you should be sending? A good rule of thumb is 5 percent.

Why a 401(k) and not a regular, taxable investment account? With regular, taxable investment accounts, you pay taxes on your income before you can invest it. So for every $100 you make, you might actually only be able to invest $85 of it. Fifteen percent (or whatever, depending on your tax rate) goes to the tax man.

With a 401(k), you can invest the entire $100 and let it grow for about 30 years. That extra ~15 percent turns out to make a huge difference as it gets compounded over time.

You absolutely, positively need…