When we talk personal finance, we’re usually talking about how to earn more money, save money, or invest money. Managing money comes up of course, but it tends to be more how to manage your stock portfolio, or how to manage multiple side hustles. The nitty gritty of money can fly right by.
Staying organized and on top of your accounts is extremely important, though. If you’re checking as often as you get your mail, you’re probably okay. If you check Black Keys ticket prices more often than you check your financial accounts, there may be a slight problem.
Why You Should Check Your Financial Accounts
You’ve heard that ignorance is bliss, but let me tell you: that isn’t always the case. Oh sure, when it comes to theoretical physics, ignorance is definitely bliss. When it comes to your finances, ignorance is not bliss.
It could mean a lot of distinctly non-blissful things, actually, like overdrawn accounts, missed payments, or total financial disaster (dun dun dun!).
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to finances. If it’s going to take more than one week to fix an error, it’s better to know now than when you go to pay rent and there’s not enough there. Facing your finances even when you don’t want to is a true adult move. Congratulate yourself for opening up that account window and seeing what’s going on in there!
Now I can’t speak from personal experience, because even when I was at the height of my debt and in peak freaking out mode, I checked my accounts fairly regularly. Maybe it was a masochistic thing, but I just had to know what sadness lay in my accounts.
Avoidance Due to Embarrassment
I have heard from many a friend and read on many a blog of people who do avoid their accounts. Sometimes it’s guilt that keeps people away. A big night out or a holiday season splurge, and it can be hard to face the music.
Checking your accounts after a major expense, whether it’s a crazy night of drinking or a new purchase for your apartment, is actually a must-do. It might look like an accident happened in there, but you’ve got to know what the damage is to make it better.
If you’re only a little over your budget, you can make a quick comeback with your next paycheck, or by cutting an expense out for one week.
We all do embarrassing things. It’s the human condition, I’m afraid. What would be truly embarrassing is not knowing what’s going on with you own money.
Keeping to Your Budget
If you have set a budget, the only way to stick to it is to check your accounts.
I use the Mint app for my budget needs. Other people love to use Personal Capital, or spreadsheets of their own making. No matter what you use for your budget needs, you need to check in on your spending in order to stay on track.
Staying on budget is really important. It’s the holy grail of our personal finance world. Checking your accounts is the unsung hero of budgeting and personal finance.
Hiding from it or being nonchalant about it won’t help you stick to your $100 a month ice cream budget in these hot summer months. You have to know if you’ve gone rogue and spent $200 in ice cream! (Fro-yo gets it’s own category of course.)
How Often Should You Check?
I check my account multiple times a day. What can I say, I have a problem. You probably don’t need to do that, but how often do you need to be checking?
If you have a lot of transactions happening – auto bill payments, loan payments, daily purchases – it might be a good idea to check your accounts once a day. Mistakes happen, and you want to catch any overcharges, overdrafts, or unusual activity as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a lot of activity in your accounts, checking twice a week is a good amount. That will allow you to remain on top of all your accounts and investments, but it isn’t overkill.
Check All Your Accounts
Checking and savings accounts are not the only ones you need to be on top of. If you’re in the investing game, you need to check in and see how the market is treating your hard earned cash.
If you have a CD account, or any bonds, take a minute every few months and check up on how those are going as well. Don’t leave anything out when you’re doing a full account sweep!
It may seem like a small thing, but checking your accounts is critical to experiencing success with your finances. Even for those of us who think they’ve anticipated every need or accounted for every purchase in our heads, it’s good to check in and make sure all’s right with our money.
How often do you check your financial accounts? Are you guilty of not checking often enough?