Thursday, March 06, 2008

Watching the balance

When my purse was stolen, I started checking my bank balance online--even before opening email.

I'm going to keep this daily habit. It's good for security, but even better for analyzing our spending habits.

Do you watch your account online? Why or why not?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every day for several years now...I want to know about any "bumps" or problems with my accounts when they happen while my memory of recent spending is fresh.

Anonymous said...

I check my account almost daily. It assures that my checkbook is always balanced and if there were an error I would detect it right away. It also keeps me from having to reconcile my account when the monthly statement comes in.

Meredith said...

Good--I'm not obsessive, then.

I used to check ours once a week, but watching each day's numbers takes only a couple of minutes and makes me feel so much more on top of things.

Deborah Wright said...

I too check daily. I am very lazy about recording small debit card purchases in my "written" log. Checking daily online has helped me catch more than one oversite, thus preventing an overdraft fee or other consequence.

Anonymous said...

I check my account daily and balance my checkbook every few days to my online account. If I forget to record a purchase, or transposed a number, I can catch it immediately. Also, should there be any unauthorized activity, I'd notice right away. Hope you are feeling much better!:)

Elizabeth said...

Well, now that I can so easily log on to our state employee's credit union website and securely check (for free, we used to be limited the # of times we could "check" at our old bank) I like to do it often, though not every day, just days I spend money. We are literally accounting for every penny now while paying for two houses (one in MI needs to sell) so it is great for peace of mind. We also track our daily spending through an excel spreadshet to make sure we don't overspend... b/c we simply can't, otherwise bills won't get paid.

Well, that was a post! Glad you're back, Meredith. :)

Anonymous said...

Every single day. EXCEPT Sunday. I do wait till Monday to balance any spending we do on Sunday afternoon. I even check when we are on vacation with my lap top. I can do it over the phone too with an 800#...(before I had internet I did it by phone everyday)
It keeps me on top of the expenses. I makes sure that only what WE spend is there. We lost an ATM card once. It was several days before my husband knew it was gone. He thinks he paid for a meal and then left before the waiter returned it...anyway...it was EXPENSIVE because someone used the card. It took a while for us to get the matter cleared up. Now I stay on it 100%. Roxie

Beth said...

I'm glad you're back, Meredith. You can tell you are a faithful blogger because people get upset when you're gone. Some of us habitually have long pauses between posts and aren't so missed. :)

I'm a daily bank checker, also. We have a credit card we use for online purchasing; I check that every day also. Too many things can happen very quickly with identity theft, etc. Have to stay on top of it!

TJ said...

So glad you are back! I check several times a week. Mostly due to laziness (I can't stand trying to unravel and record my husbands and my receipts), to keep an eye on possible errors (like the insurance check that was somehow run through our account twice), and to make sure hubby's not spending when he shouldn't. ;) He "forgets" how much his purchase is sometimes (or grossly under estimates ie: It was only about $30 actually means it was 39.99 plus tax).

Sometimes though I realize that I'm beginning to stress over finances and not let God be in control. Then I take a break from checking because it only increases my stress.

Amy said...

I check mine every Friday. I should check it daily, but Friday seems to work with my schedule right now. I like to start my weekend off that way since that is usually when I am wanting to go off and spend money :)

PS- Glad to see you back. You were missed!

50shousewife said...

We check almost daily too. It helps to keep track of everything, but also helps us to know how long it takes for some checks to clear. That way we know how far in advance of a due date to get certain bills in the mail.

Brandy said...

I check our bank account daily -- usually right after I check emails -- and have done so ever since we started using online banking 3yrs ago. I just like to make sure things ordered online have cleared ... keep close tabs on what's in the account and what's yet to clear ... stuff like that.

Rachel said...

I check one account every other day or so (I don't usually use it, it's DH's local account). Our main account is in a smallllllll (one branch) bank in rural KS, and doesn't offer online banking/account checking. We're getting ready to close out our other accounts and move to a one bank "system" (being military, it has worked for us to have two accounts, one for me/the house/bills, and the other for DH, since he's been deployed so much these last few years).

But yes, I check as often as I can.

Diane said...

I check every few days, after the flurry of checks I write on the first (I am paid monthly) clear, just to be sure I haven't missed a debit transaction, as I use the card for almost everything else.

That can actually cause some confusion, as gas stations will usually put in a $1 "place holder" on a transaction until it clears, and restaurant debits will be one of three total: The check before tip, which is added when the transaction clears, the check with your tip, or the check with an automatic 20% tip that adjusts to actual when the transaction clears.

Jackie said...

I am not set up to do online banking yet. The thought of not doing something right and having people gain access to my accounts terrify me. Perhaps I am just a touch old fashioned in this regard.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

My husband checks ours every day.

That's the only way we can stay on budget, especially since we get "paid" once a month.

(He is on Social Security Disability due to side affects of environmental allergies.)

I didn't like it at first but I found it keeps me honest and I have to think twice before making a purchase if I know I have to justify it to someone else. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Meredith!-
I'm glad you're back, too. We have been SO SICK here at our house....someone has literally been sick non-stop here for the last 3 weeks, and I am just about pooped taking care of everyone! I am so ready for warm weather, sunshine, and a healthy family!!
I am amazed at how nearly all the responders to this post are so on top of their daily financial status. I check our acconts online and reconcile them with my little budget book every day, too, (or, at least when I am not playing nurse like I have the last 3 weeks!). We had a very rough year financially last year with a lot of medical bills from a preemie baby and complications during my pregnancy, etc. I found that checking things every single day really helped me know when money was coming in and going out, and helped lower my stress about everything. It has become such a good thing that I have intentionally continued to cultivate this habit. And I find that being so aware of where our money goes really helps me keep within the boundaries of our budget. My husband asked me not too long ago why I spend time doing it every day. The best answer I could come up with is that it's a lot like dieting; when you record everything, you have a much better picture of where things in your diet (or budget, as the case may be) are honestly at.
Susan

Jenni said...

Yes, I check our account balance nearly every day. I guess it stems from control issues..lol...having to know what is going on with everything every single moment of the day. I truly am trying to be less neurotic...lol :) Also, we had our mail stolen once and guess what was inside said mail...yup...outgoing payments in check form. The thief thought paying their cable and electricity bill would be fun..for them..not for us..especially since we don't even have cable. Needless to say, I check our balance to make sure nothing funky is going on. Some bills still have to be mailed...not every utility company is online saavy yet.
Also, I check it because my husband sometimes forgets to give me the reciepts that he shoves into his wallet. :)
I love the fact that my credit union even lets me know when there are items pending!

Stephanie said...

Our bank has an optional email alert system. One of the choices is to get a daily email for your account activity. So in my email every morning are all the transactions that occurred the day before.

Very helpful esp when two of you use the account, and one isn't so good at keeping up the receipts! (no names mentioned) :)

Shannon@Idylwild said...

I check ours everyday - it's just a great way to keep watch over my household:)

I'm glad you're backI was rather hoping you had something fabulous going on and no one was sick - but either way, family comes first!

Kelly said...

Our college age son, has his bank send him a text message every morning with his balance.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

I don't check mine every single day, but several times a week. I also pay bills online & keep a constant watch on it. Love that online banking!

Rhoda

chickadee said...

i probably don't check it daily, but i do weekly. our bank just got online banking and i love that i can check and see which checks have gone through and even make transfers so easily.

Ewokgirl said...

Yes, I check ours regularly. It's a great way to make sure our accounts are still intact. We've had debit and credit card numbers stolen in the past. In fact, we had to close our CC account a couple of weeks ago due to fraudulent charges.

Anonymous said...

I am not set up for on-line banking either. Never have been. I am ashamed to say that in 43 years of marriage I have never balanced a check book. Yes, just plain lazy. I do keep a very generous amount in my account plus now I only write one check a month. The rest of my bills are automatically deducted. Works for me but not for everybody I realize.

Carolyn said...

Very good point. I am learning the hard way that it doesn't do any good to work hard on the little frugal details of my life and then stupidly pay a huge late fee because I wasn't on top of my online bills and bank account,etc. So, yes, checking every day is a very good thing.

Becky said...

I've never tried it. I usually keep the checkbook balanced pretty well just gathering up the receipts (from my hubby's spending) and a once a week call to my bank's phone banking system.

I, too, have been particularly careful since my purse was stolen a couple of years ago from my church parking lot.

Kris said...

Welcome back, Meredith!

I check my bank and credit card account about 4-5 times a week, and my 401K once every seven days (since it's not been pretty lately). This way, I know what's going out vs. what's coming in.

Anon - no worries. I've never balanced a checkbook in my life, either. Between online advancements and keeping a budget, I haven't had to (yet...).

Patty said...

we do most purchases by cash, not by checks. We only have one credit card for emergencies so we don't have a lot of bank transactions going on. We do check our accounts carefully though.
We never purchase things on line with a credit card. Cutting our risk of having things stored in the memory of anyones computer.

Mod Girl said...

Yes! Everyday for about the past 7-8 years. It's so much easier to keep the checkbook balanced this way and I like the security of being able to watch our spending.

The Nester said...

I am addicted to my on line bank acct. Not because I love $$ but because I love control. Probably worse than loving $$$!

I love online banking!

Margo said...

Our credit union is only online or by phone, but I don't check it daily. I balance my checkbook using the mail statement.

I also do not have all our bills set up for automatic payment because I've found a few utilities make mistakes and it's hard to get a refund for their mistakes when the money is already in their hands. I also like supporting the old-fashioned USPS stamps and envelopes :)

Sher's Creative Expressions said...

I check mine several times a week and also do all of my bill paying on line.

Blessings,

Sher

Elizabeth said...

I check almost daily, but mostly just to check if my interest payment on my savings account has come through yet. It's a sickness.

Linda said...

Yep.... because otherwise I wouldn't know what's left in there..

The banks here (the netherlands) have decided loooooong ago that it's either checking online, or paying extra for the monthly reports.

Then the choice was easy of course ;)

the feathered nest said...

I check and download everyday. We hardly write any checks - we primarily use our debit card and online banking. Those things are almost automatically deducted so it pays to stay on top of things.

Manuela

HopewellMomSchool said...

I do, but have learned the hard way not to rely on it--somethings still take ages to clear.

JessieLeigh said...

I don't ever check my account anymore... but that's largely because my husband is the manager of our bank. He stays pretty on top of that for us. : ) We do LOVE online banking though and going to online bill-pay was one of the best things we ever did for ourselves, despite my initial resistance.

The Stepford Wife said...

I don't, but I'm lucky to have a really, really awesome bank. They keep an eye on it for me. When I got married, we made a lot of final payments on things (cake, flowers, etc) which were larger-than-normal transactions, and they were made in 2 states. Then we went on our honeymoon, spending money at an airport (another different state), then again in San Juan, and finally all over the place in the Carribbean.

The morning of day 2 on our honeymoon, we got a frantic call on the cell from a lady at the bank, who said "We're worried about the security of your credit card! Somebody has made large purchases up and down the east coast, Puerto Rico, and now the Virgin Islands!" We told them that it was OK, we got married and were on our honeymoon. She said "Oh my goodness!! Congrats!! Would you like us to combine your car insurance accounts?" LOL!!

When we got home, we had a fruit basket with flowers and a congrats card.

Our bank rocks. :D

Nancy (aka Blonde 1) said...

Yes, I check regularly. About 3 times/week. I do this because my husband, God love him, never - and I mean never - has been good at keeping his ATM receipts to give to me. It's been a problem more than once and led to an unpleasant conversation between us.

BTW, found you recently through a link at another blog. I enjoy reading it. Stop by mine to say hello.

simple mom said...

Every day but Sunday. Mostly because I enjoy balancing our books and working our budget. Am I a nerd or what?

Tee said...

I check almost daily, and when the paper statement arrives the checkbook is balanced. I've done this since 1966. We had one check to bounce the first three months we were married and I bounced off the ceiling.

Nicki said...

I check ours almost daily also. I like to keep our budget spreadsheets current so I daily check the bank account to compare them.

I, too, find it a great way to look at our spending habits. Our online bank account allows you to make reports that show all of your transactions grouped according to the payees. So (back before our frugal and healthier eating days) I was horrified when I saw that in one year we had spent close to $600eating at Wendy's!!! Horrified!!

It was part of the turning point for us in our budget and in eating healthier.

Thank you Meredith for your wonderful blog. I have learned so much from you in the short time that I've been visiting here. :)

Rebecca said...

I recently found mint.com, which is a neat site to help keep track of several bank accounts and credit cards in one place. Checking one site to make sure nothing fishy is going on is much easier than juggling. It also makes nice neat little graphs that show you just how much you're spending on what.