Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (648 words)

6 Ways to Keep Up With What's Going On With Your Money

Some surprises are welcome: a surprise birthday present, a surprise engagement, a surprise job promotion. However, when it comes to your finances, surprises are typically not appreciated. Avoid many surprises by staying in the know with your own money.

Read your mail. Banks and other businesses will typically send account notifications to you by mail. Sometimes notices are included with your regular billing statements or they may be mailed separately. Often, important notifications are sent in plain envelopes giving no indication as to the nature of the notice. Open all your mail, even if you think it’s junk to be sure you’re not missing critical notices about your account and your money.

If you’ve signed up for online billing, you may receive important notifications via email. The message itself may not be included in the email, instead, you may be prompted to visit the business’ website for more details. Be wary of email notifications; scammers love to use email to trick unsuspecting consumers out of their sensitive information.

Register online. Most of the businesses you have accounts with will probably have the ability for customers to create online accounts. With an online account, you can monitor your account activity almost real-time. So, rather than waiting for your billing statement or for your bank to send notifications via mail, you can keep up with account changes online. Some businesses even have smartphone apps that make it even more convenient to access your account.

Keep your own log. We rely so much on businesses to keep track of our transactions, to summarize those transactions, and to periodically report to us on what we’ve spent or deposited. Businesses make accounting errors, too, but you may not catch these errors if you’re not keeping your own records. Consider having a journal, notebook, or spreadsheets where you record certain transactions. Compare what you’ve recorded to your statements to confirm there were no errors. Doing this for your most important accounts will help ensure you’re not losing money on accounting and other record-keeping errors.

Organize your files. Certain financial records you’ll keep for a few months or years, others you’ll toss in the trash. Have a good system for filing away those records you keep. A filing cabinet or file box are good places to organize your files. You can organize documents under a name that you’d likely look for them, like credit card statements, electric statements, or bills. You might even file them based on the month or date received. No matter how you choose to organize your record, the important thing is that you’re consistent.

Check your credit report. If you want to know what your creditors and lenders are saying about you, your credit report is a great place to look. Most businesses that you’ve borrowed from report to the credit bureaus every month. It’s important that you check your own credit report periodically to make sure the information being reported is accurate. You have the right to dispute information that’s not accurate and credit bureaus, after investigating and finding that your dispute is accurate, are required to remove that inaccurate information.

Sign up for credit monitoring. While you are entitled to a free credit report every year (maybe two in some states), it can get expensive to check all three of your credit reports frequently throughout the year. You may sign up for credit monitoring services which will alert you whenever there are key changes to your credit report, like an increased account balance, new account, or a new inquiry into your credit report. Check with your bank to see if they offer complimentary credit monitoring services.

If you feel your money is out of control, it’s time to get more involved with tracking your finances. Paying more attention allows you to identify problem areas. After that, you can begin working to get things back to a more comfortable place.
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Thursday, 22 August 2019

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