Why I check my finances every day
By Allie Johnson
September 23, 2013
Some personal finance experts recommend checking your finances daily, but I’ve always done it every few days or even just once a week. Recently, I decided to try an experiment — and do a quick review of my money every single day. As it turns out, I really like this method.
For the past few months, this is what I’ve been doing each morning:
- I log in to online banking and scan the balances in all the accounts my husband and I share. I’m making sure that everything looks like I expect it to and no account is low or in the red. If I need to transfer money from one account to another, I do so. We’ve been using our debit card a lot lately, so I’m watching out carefully for any mistakes or suspicious charges.
- I click on our main checking account and look at all the recent purchases made on our debit card. I log each new purchase into the Google spreadsheet we use to track our monthly budget.
- I sign in to our credit card accounts and check to make sure everything looks OK. We haven’t been using credit as much as we use our debit card and cash, so this doesn’t take long. If we have used our card for something, I log it on the spreadsheet and make a payment.
While it takes a little time out of each day, I’ve found checking my finances every 24 hours is a good way to stay on top of my money. Here are four good reasons to try it yourself:
- You catch errors or other problems. Personal finance blogger Jessica Moorhouse, of Mo’ Money, Mo’ Houses, writes that her husband caught a $400 fraudulent charge by checking his bank account frequently.
- It motivates you to improve your finances. J. Money, the blogger behind Budgets are Sexy, writes that checking his 401(k) regularly and seeing the balance grow inspires him to “kick it up a notch.”
- You might avoid overdrafts. If you sometimes have a low balance in your checking account, it’s especially important to monitor your account daily to avoid getting hit with hefty overdraft fees, according to personal finance blog Look Before Spending. Even if you’ve signed up for overdraft protection, many banks will charge you $10 or more just to transfer your own money from one account to another. But my bank told me that if I catch a transaction that’s about to cause an overdraft and transfer the money myself while the transaction is pending, I won’t get hit with a fee.
- It makes money management easier. When I stay on top of my money, I stay connected to it, and it takes me less time to get my financial chores done. The three steps I outlined take me less than five minutes a day — that’s it. On the other hand, if I wait a week, I have more purchases to wade through and I have to try to remember which purchases I’ve already logged into the spreadsheet. It feels like much more of a chore that way.
Your financial life, with its many obligations, may seem overwhelming, and that’s why many people procrastinate on checking their accounts. But improving your finances is similar to other big goals like running a race or learning a new skill, such as painting, computer programming or even cleaning your house: By breaking a gargantuan responsibility up into daily, manageable bits, you’re more likely to keep it up for the long term.
So, consider adding “check finances” to your daily to-do list, starting today.