We all know that feeling you get in your stomach when you’re avoiding checking your bank account. You know you’ve been “bad” with your money or you know it’s just never good in there. For me, it’s a quickening of my heartbeat as I type in my login information online.
I get nervous before I look at those numbers! It can be physically and mentally challenging to face the cold and sometimes cruel truth of your bank account. And yet, it has to be done. It’s like swallowing medicine: you hate to do it but it’s the only way to get healthy. So take a deep breath and join me as we face our bank accounts together!
Here’s how I feel when facing my bank account. I might be frustrated by what I find there (or angry or sometimes downright confused) but I have to know. Nothing else can be done with your money until you know exactly what the deal is.
Here’s The Trouble
Worse, you can get yourself into trouble by ignoring your account status. If you have to maintain a certain balance and you drop below it, you could be charged a fee. If you spend more than you have in your account you could incur an overdraft fee. I don’t know about you, but I really hate fees. They’re, in the words of the immortal Jean Ralphio, “the worst person in the world.” (Minus the personhood, double the worst thing ever.)
The First Step
Facing your bank account is the first step you take in controlling your finances. Knowing what is in there is the only way to do anything with your money. So ask yourself what you want to do. Do you want to save more, or pay off debt, maybe start investing? All of those are going to start with checking out what you got going on in there.
As John Bender said in “The Breakfast Club” (my favorite movie, FYI), “Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place.” While he is literally referring to a screw during that scene, it’s a valuable lesson for finances.
Companies can overcharge you, transactions can get confusing, and delays can happen with your direct deposit. Mistakes get made; the world is an imperfect place. It’s important to stay on top of your bank account so you can gauge what is normal activity and what isn’t. Personally I don’t make a ton of money right now, which makes me want to be all the more on top of it. As long as $10 seems like a sizeable sum in my life, I’ll notice where every dollar in my account is going.
Conquering your fear of your bank account is also a baller personal move. It’s like leveling up for adults! There are a lot of people in the world who never get over that fear and their personal finances can suffer as a result. I know for me, it’s really important to begin thinking long term with my finances now. Establishing good money habits with the smaller amount I make now will make it easier to handle the larger amount I hope to make one day.
As we age, our finances tend to become more complex. We buy houses, we lease space and collect rent, and we buy or exchange cars. Sums become larger, and transactions have more weight to them. Learning how to face your Saturday night bar tab will help you learn to face your monthly mortgage payments.
If you’re not inspired by my words of wisdom above, you could utilize a time honored tradition that parents with young children have employed since forever. Simply bribe yourself! Tell yourself you can binge watch all the “House of Cards” you want or that you can have cookies for dinner if you check your accounts today. I personally like to allow myself to get lost in the absolute joy that is TV show gag reel highlights on YouTube. Do whatever you want! Be gentle with yourself in another area of your life so you can be firm about looking at your accounts.