I’m going to be perfectly honest here and tell you that in the past I’ve dreaded the moment that my bank statement hits the doormat.
There have been times when I’ve picked it up and put it on the sideboard trying to decide whether to open it or not because I knew it was going to tell me that we had no money or that one Direct Debit or other had been returned unpaid. More often than not, I ended up just hiding it in a drawer and not opening it at all because in my head, if I didn’t see it written down then it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Silly, I know.
This was a long time ago thankfully and the fact we had no money was mostly related to the fact that we couldn’t really afford to buy a house as young as we did so we genuinely struggled for a long time. We had no money left over at all each month and for a good while we used credit cards to help us make ends meet each month which although I don’t recommend in any way, shape or form, was the only thing that kept us from going under completely.
That was a long time ago now though and we’re in a much better position and although we still have to watch our pennies carefully, we do have the luxury of money leftover in our budget each month and we can afford things that we could never have afforded in those days.
One thing that I never completely got over until a couple of years ago was the feeling of dread when the monthly bank statement landed. Even though I knew it wasn’t going to be as bad as it used to be, I still used to get that same feeling when it arrived and there were still months where I just filed it away un-opened which is ridiculous and quite irresponsible really.
But then I opened one (albeit a week or so after it had actually been delivered) and found a transaction that wasn’t mine. It wasn’t a huge amount and was easy to fix as it was a company I’d used in the past who had sneakily added an extra charge on to something so I got it back quite quickly but it did make me sit up and think. If I hadn’t have checked it then they would have got away with it and I would have been down by £35.
So I started checking my statement each month regularly and gradually the feeling of dread faded and although it’s not my favourite job of the month, I always make sure that it’s done.
There’s lots of reasons why you absolutely should check your bank statement each month….
Check for transactions you don’t recognise
You should run through every transaction quickly and make sure you recognise them all.
Where you’re not sure of a company name then you can Google it and you should get a better idea if it’s genuine or not. If it’s not then contact your bank immediately.
If it’s a company you know but don’t remember the transaction then I’d contact the company first but you can always contact your bank too in order to let them know.
Make sure all the payments you were expecting have been paid
The first thing I do is check that our wages and child benefit have gone in correctly just in case and then I check that any other payments or credits have been made as agreed. A few times I’ve not received a refund for something that I’ve sent back or a payment that was supposed to be made isn’t showing so I’ve always just made a quick phone call or fired off an email to whoever it is and got it sorted straight away.
Are you paying for anything you don’t need?
If there are any continuous authorities or subscriptions that you no longer need or use then get them cancelled. Highlight them and make sure that they are actually cancelled and not showing when you get charged on your next month’s statement.
Check for areas where you can improve
I only noticed how much I spent at Costa when I went through and added up all of the Costa transactions in one month. It wasn’t a HUGE amount but it was still more than I thought my weekly shopping treat and the odd trip there with Miss Frugal was costing me. Seeing it added up made it easier for me to cut out all but the odd Costa treat.
Update your monthly budget for the coming month.
I have a list of everything that is paid on a regular basis from our bank account (it’s not pretty) so when I get our bank statement, I work out how much we still have to pay out and how much we still have to come in. Then I know how much extra spends we’ve got for the non-essentials.
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