Post by Contributing Writer, Rachael.
What do your financial statements say about you? In the world of online banking, automatic bill pay and paperless statements, most of us don’t have a clear perspective of our financial bottom line.
To truly live simply and be good stewards of our money we need to know where every penny is.
Let’s take a moment and review the statements in your life.
Bank Statements: Do you balance your checkbook monthly?
Some of us can’t remember the last check we wrote, but that does not excuse us from keeping a balanced check book ledger. It is to your benefit to know each and every debit and credit in your account: every debit card transaction, automatic bill payment and ATM withdraw.
By doing so, you will be able to better see where you are spending your money and how frequently. You may be surprised to see how much cash you are taking out each month or how frequently you have small debit card transactions under $5 or $10.
So, do you balance your checkbook monthly?
Yes: If you balance your bank statement monthly give yourself a pat on the back. My challenge to you is to take bank balancing a step further.
Look and see what fees your bank is charging you. Is there anything you can do to avoid them? Consider changing the type of account you have or changing banks to lower any regular fees that appear in your account.
No: Start today! Balancing a checkbook is the first step to simple money management. To manage what you have, you must know what you have.
When your next bank statement comes, print it out and do a full reconciliation of your account. You may have to back track 2, 3, or 4 months of statements to balance correctly. Don’t get discouraged.
Once your checkbook ledger is in order, you can finally begin to see where your money is. You can also be confident that when next month arrives, you will have all your decimal points and dollar signs in the right place for simpler balancing and a clearer financial picture.
Household Billing Statements: Do you read your utility bills?
Most people receive monthly or bi-monthly utility bills for cable, internet, water, trash pick up, gas and electricity. Since we receive them monthly and they are approximately the same every month, a lot of people pay the balance and shred or file the bill. A frugal spender will take the time to read each statement before paying it and will often compare statements month to month.
Utility bills are sometimes confusing and amidst the confusion there are often unwarranted and unwanted fees that we ignore or bypass because we don’t understand them. Utility bills are also smaller payments in comparison to other household bills and thus we are more comfortable paying them.
It is unwise to assume that small bills are not important. Take the time to read through each bill to make sure they are accurate.
Especially costs like gas and electricity can be approximate. Make sure you understand how you are getting charged, what you are being charged for and what the charge covers.
If there are charges, taxes, or fees you do not understand, call the company and ask. Many times small fees for services not in use or not rendered are charged but a simple phone call can get it reversed.
You may also find when you call a utility like a cable company or internet provider that they will offer you a lower rate or extra service if you have thoughtful questions about your service or are considering canceling or switching providers.
So, do you read your monthly household billing statements?
Yes: Well done! Tell us about your success stories. What have you learned and where you have you saved just because you took the time to read your bill?
Also, every six months or so don’t forget to reassess. You may have the ability to switch providers or utility carriers and save money. A little bit of research can go a long way.
No: There is no time to lose. Pull out your most recent statements and start reading them. Understanding what it costs to run your household will help you determine how to be more frugal.
If your heating bill is high, think about turning down the heat when you are not home. If your trash pick up has gradually increased in price, consider switching companies to save money.
With small bills, every dollar counts; don’t ignore even the smallest discount available on your monthly services. Smaller utility bills mean more personal income available for saving, spending, giving, or investing.
The Bottom Line: Make a Statement
To make a true statement about yourself and your family you need to know your financial bottom line. Make time every month to read and understand your household statements. Never hesitate to give a company or business a call and ask about charges, fees or line items you don’t understand.
Above all remember that your diligence in reading your statements will help create a clear financial picture for you and help you steward your resources better each and every day.
Be Bold. Be Frugal. Be Financially Free.
This post is part of Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.
Rachael shares financial tips from her kitchen table surrounded by her two active toddlers and her husband. God has moved her from corporate life into His grace as an at-home wife! She shares about her passion for motherhood and life five days a week at To Be a Mom…