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- I’ve tried money journals and budgeting apps, but checking my bank account every day is the only thing that helps me stick to a budget.
- By checking my accounts every day, I’ve been able to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt, keep my spending under control, and even build an emergency savings fund.
- Checking my bank account daily also helped me catch $1,200 worth of fraud and get it reversed immediately.
- I make it easy by setting my homepage to open up to my various financial accounts automatically.
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There’s only one budgeting method that’s worked for me consistently, and it doesn’t really involve having a budget at all. It’s checking my bank account every single day.
Most people check their bank accounts once each week, perhaps even one each month. So, checking them every day probably seems like overkill. Here’s why it’s been crucial for me.
Think of it as ‘balancing your checkbook’ for the digital age
Back in the day, people used to balance their checkbooks. This meant recording every single purchase in your checkbook and subtracting it from the funds you have available so you always know exactly how much you’ve spent and how much money you still have.
Now that our financial institutions record our transactions for us and offer online banking, we no longer have to do this. We can simply log into our bank accounts from anywhere, at any time, and check to make sure our “books are balanced.”
However, if we’re not logging onto our accounts regularly, we’re not able to see whether or not we’re spending more than we have. That was my problem. There were times when I went months without checking my bank account out of anxiety, and all that caused me to do was spend money I didn’t have and dig myself into an even deeper financial hole.
When I started checking my bank accounts regularly, everything changed. Seeing all of my accounts laid out in front of me offered the clearest picture of where I was financially, and doing it every day kept that sense of where I was in the front of my mind. It helped make managing my money and making good financial choices a priority.
It helped me pay off debt and keep my spending under control
In my 20s, I racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt on multiple occasions. The biggest reason was that I couldn’t manage to keep track of how much I was spending, no matter what I tried.
Instead of trying to force myself into a habit I clearly couldn’t stick with, I created a new one. I started checking my bank accounts every day. Within a couple of years, I paid off around $10,000 in credit card debt, and I’ve been debt-free ever since. I’ve even been able to build up a $20,000 emergency savings fund, which I never could’ve done without figuring out how to manage my spending.
I still use credit cards, but I include them in the list of accounts I log into every single day. By doing so, I get a daily reminder of both my credit card balance and my checking account balance, and if I see that my credit card balance is getting high or my checking account balance is too low, I can adjust my spending immediately.
This isn’t too different from the budgeting method of setting spending limits for yourself in various spending categories and getting notifications when you’re bumping up against those limits. However, for me, it’s a lot simpler and more flexible. I can spend my money however I want, I just have to keep the overall amount under control.
Checking my bank account daily also helped me catch fraud quickly
About a year ago, I logged into my bank account and saw that someone had withdrawn $600 from my checking account two times at an ATM in Texas. I hadn’t been to Texas in years.
They came close to overdrawing my checking account, so I was lucky that I saw the transaction before I made any purchases with my debit card. The only reason I caught it so quickly was because I’d made it a habit to check on my accounts every morning.
I was able to call my credit union and have them immediately freeze my account and cancel the transactions, which were obviously fraudulent. If I hadn’t noticed the transaction so quickly, I might’ve had to jump through additional hoops and wait a lot longer to get my money back, and I also might have overdrawn my account.
How I build checking my bank accounts into my daily routine
Making this habit stick was easy for me. I simply set my browser homepage to open to the login pages of my various bank and credit card accounts. Because I use my laptop for work, I open it every day of the week in the morning, so logging into these accounts is the first thing I do on weekdays.
I don’t always remember to check my accounts on weekends, but I usually do. I also downloaded the apps for my various financial institutions and put them on the homepage of my cell phone for easy access, so that’s usually how I end up logging in on days when I’m not working.
With online and mobile banking, checking my bank accounts takes a matter of minutes. I’m more than happy to spend a few minutes doing that as part of my morning routine if it means keeping my finances in order.