You should review them as much as you need. Let me guess, you’re thinking well, jeez thanks, that’s a helpful answer. But wait there’s more! In order to determine how often you should review your finances depends on how involved they are. For example, if you are a single student living with your parents and your income is working at a retail store and your expenses are car payment, cell phone, food, clothing, and some personal items then maybe once in two weeks is adequate. If you are a small business owner, a couple times a week or maybe even daily would be advisable. Summit Brokerage provided a good analogy in comparing you financial health to your general health: “many of us engage in regular exams for our physical health, making sure everything is in working order and making changes when necessary, but the same isn’t always true when it comes to our financial health”. Although they don’t give an exact answer as to how often finances should be reviewed on a consistent basis to ensure it is being practiced as you intended.
Do I Really Have to Review My Finances?
Yes you do 🙂 Typically a job pays every two weeks and I know several people who only check their account at that time and only check to see if the payment came in. Other than that, they don’t really reconcile or review anything. And some of them complain about credit card debt and not being able to save enough, and forget about retirement (ain’t nobody got time for that). Reviewing your finances enables you to prevent, detect and correct things in a timely manner. For example, over a year ago, a credit card I use generally for groceries had a Sony PlayStation 2 charge and some Sony games for around $100-$150. When I saw this charge as part of my bi-weekly credit card charges review, I immediately clicked on that dispute charge button. By the way, most credit card online portals have a button to individually dispute charges so it’s really easy to do. Anyway, I don’t remember what else I had to go through but it wasn’t a lot for the credit card company to agree that this was a fraudulent charge. As a result, they credited my account, and sent me a new credit card with a different number. But if I didn’t review my account, chances are I wouldn’t have known about it.
Another reason to regularly review is so that you can pay your bills on time. I have some payments that are set to pay automatically, but others where I decide when to pay (of course before it’s due though). Per Nerd Wallet, younger Americans are having a tougher time in paying their bills timely and this can definitely affect your credit score.
Look Forward To It
Here are some tips to make the review process a little less painful, actually let me say that in a more positive way…..a little more FUN!
• Set a recurring schedule to review your finances (e.g., 1st and 3rd Wednesday evening of each month – in your pajamas and your favorite chair and beverage). By setting and sticking to a recurring schedule, you will get the hang of reviewing your finances, create an efficient way to do it, learn and understand your regular expenses, and even find ways to save. Besides, there’s no NFL game on Wednesday evening anyway.
• As you continue, you may find credit card accounts that can be merged or closed if you do not use them as often. A few months ago I closed a credit card account because initially I thought the points or rewards system they advertised would be beneficial to me. Turns out, I would have to buy items I regularly don’t buy to take advantage of this system. Also I didn’t like how the online portal did not display a running balance of my charges and it took a long time to post charges as well.
• Once you do find savings, you can get excited and figure out how and where to invest the excess….I like this part the best 🙂
Enormous Lack of Review
Another article by Nerd Wallet states that only 10.5% of Americans review their financial health. As a result they are spending more than they earn, can’t afford their rent or mortgage and are living paycheck to paycheck. The article mentions a survey conducted by Harris Poll taken by over 2,000 participants with an average score of 67.9…..that’s a “D”! According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics about 145 million people got paid in January 2017 from working – click chart to expand:
So out of this 145,000,000 we can say that only about 15,225,000 review their finances!! If you know someone who is lazy or inexperienced, or just ignores their finances, encourage them to review them or help them get a kick-start with tips and benefits of reviewing them. There are many tools out there that do that, but for me personally, I’ve been using a customized spreadsheet for many years and it’s served me well. It’s in excel so I can make all types of graphs and insert and remove columns and rows, but at the same time not complicate it too much. It doesn’t do all that high tech stuff like pulling from you bank account and categorizing automatically, but since you are inputting each item, you are more aware and cognizant of your financial behavior….hey I like that term 🙂
So how often do you review your finances? Do you think you may be over or under reviewing?
I use Personal Capital because (1) it’s free, (2) it tracks all of my accounts and overall net worth, (3) my account balances automatically update, (4) it shows how my investments are diversified and allocated in various sectors, and (5) can use built-in tools like “Investment Checkup” to get….wait for it…free personalized advice!