by Christy Bieber | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Nov. 3, 2019
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You're probably spending too little time managing money. Here's what you should be doing daily.
According to recent research from The Ascent on financial planning, the average American spends just two minutes and 24 seconds per day on household financial management.
Financial planning ensures you're spending and saving appropriately so you can meet your financial goals. Two and a half minutes is far too little time for such an important task. And many people's financial lives suffer because of it.
The same Ascent survey revealed that millions of Americans don't have an emergency fund and couldn't miss more than a few paychecks without failing to meet financial obligations. It also showed that close to half of Americans don't know how much to save vs. how much to spend.
Spending a little more time on your finances could help improve your financial security, better prepare you for the future, and make achieving financial goals easier.
But what, exactly, should you be doing every day to get your financial life under control? Here are a few things that should go on your daily money management checklist.
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Want to know if you're spending your money wisely? Then you need to understand where it's going. This also helps you make sure you're saving enough to meet your financial goals. If you don't know how you're spending your money, you can't possibly know if you're doing the right things with it.
One of your daily tasks should be to see what you spent money on during the day. You can track your spending by manually recording transactions or by using a financial management app that does it for you, like Mint. Many apps, however, require you to manually assign categories to transactions.
Take the time every day to jot down what you bought or check your app and make sure the transactions you made are categorized correctly. By doing this, you can identify problem areas. And the very act of tracking spending makes you more conscious of your purchases -- so you're less likely to buy things you don't need.
Signing into your online bank accounts and your credit card accounts is a good daily habit.
This lets you see posted transactions and cashed checks as well as your balances. You'll know how much you have in the bank and what you can spend. You can also check your credit card balance to make sure you aren't charging so much that you won't be able to afford to pay it back at the end of the month.
Quickly checking your accounts daily is also helps fight fraud. If you spot a transaction you don't recognize, you can quickly contact your bank or card issuer. By reporting the problem quickly, you can take advantage of fraud protections that absolve you of liability for unauthorized transactions. And hopefully, you can stop a scammer before he or she does too much damage.
Finally, it's a good idea to check in with your budget daily. When you track spending, you can make sure you aren't getting close to going over your budget on any particular spending category. You can also see how much you have left to spend so you'll be better able to plan where your money will go for the rest of the month.
Make sure you're on track to hit any savings goals you've set for yourself in your budget, too. If you don't have savings as a line item in your budget, set aside more time to review your spending and figure out where you can free up cash to save for retirement and other priorities.
Doing the three tasks on this daily money checklist shouldn't take more than five or 10 minutes -- but even this would more than triple the time the average American currently spends on their finances. That five or 10 minutes could make all the difference in your ability to stick to your budget, avoid unnecessary spending, and stay out of debt.
Be sure you make time to manage your finances -- investing in your future is worth it.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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