How Often Do You Need to Review Your Checking Account Balance?
- Your checking account balance might fluctuate a lot from day to day.
- It's a good idea to review your account every few days or before larger purchases.
It pays to keep tabs on how much money is in your checking account for one big reason.
If you're like most people, the money in your checking account is what you use to pay your bills, from your daily coffee purchases to your rent and car payments. That's why it's important to have a clear sense of what your balance entails -- even if that means looking at your account every day.
Get into a rhythm
If your monthly expenses and income are predictable, then you may not need to review your checking account daily, but rather, every few days. Similarly, if you have a large cushion in your checking account, you can probably get away with peeking in once a week or even once every other week.
But you should actually look at your checking account balance every day if the following scenarios apply to you:
- Your income is variable and/or you don't get paid on a regular schedule
- Your bills fluctuate a lot from one month to the next
- You live paycheck to paycheck and don't tend to have extra money in your checking account beyond what your monthly bills cost
- You're about to make a larger-than-usual purchase
If you don't have a solid handle on what your checking account balance looks like, a few things might happen. First, you might splurge on something you think you can afford, only to then realize you've left yourself with inadequate funds to pay your essential bills.
Furthermore, you might run into a scenario where you swipe your debit card or make a payment from your checking account when you don't have the funds to cover it. In that situation, one of two things will happen -- either the transaction won't go through, or it will go through, but you'll risk overdraft fees.
Many banks allow customers to complete transactions even when their checking accounts have insufficient funds. But usually, they don't do that to be nice. Rather, they charge expensive overdraft fees for that privilege. While it's worth noting some banks have done away with overdraft fees, or at least lowered them, that's not a universal practice.
It's important to know how much cash you have in your checking account -- even if it means having to take time out every day to peek into your account. In fact, it's a good idea to make a checking account review part of your daily routine. You may decide to look at your balance quickly right before you start your workday. Or maybe it's something you'll do at night before bed. Go with whatever works best for you.
Give yourself a financial cushion
As a general rule, it's a good idea to keep a little extra money in your checking account beyond what your monthly bills cost. That way, if there's a month when those bills come in higher, you'll be less likely to end up in a situation where you overdraw your account.
Another solution is to have a healthy amount of money in your savings account. If you keep your savings and checking accounts at the same bank, you'll usually be able to transfer money from one account to the other instantly. So if you run into a situation where you need to pay a $300 bill out of your checking account but you only have $100, you may be able to immediately move $200 over from savings to cover that cost and avoid needless fees.
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