CNBC Make It is posting a new financial task to tackle each day for a month. These are all meant to be simple, time-sensitive activities to take your mind off of the news for a moment and, hopefully, put you on sturdier financial footing. This is day 13 of 30.
If your heart raced the last time you checked your bank account balance or you avoided looking at last month's credit card statement for days after receiving it, you're not alone. It's so common to avoid looking at potentially bad money information that researchers have a name for it: The Ostrich effect, referring to the myth that ostriches stick their heads in the sand to avoid unpleasantness.
But knowing where your money stands, including how much you spend and what your checking account balance is, can prevent possible problems, such as overdrafting your account or going over your credit limit.
Today, set up daily balance alerts for your checking account and credit cards. You can do this by logging in to your account and navigating to the Alerts section. Typically, you'll be able to pick between email and text notifications. You should select whichever you're more likely to see on a given day.
If you'd like, you can add the daily account balances in a column on your expenses tracking sheet. Otherwise, use the alerts as reminders to consistently check in on your money. Think of it as the modern version of balancing your check book: Daily balance alerts will keep you abreast of how much you've spent in a given time period and how much more you are able to spend before your next paycheck.
Another bonus: You're likely to notice any inconsistencies, and possible fraud, early.
In addition to daily balance alerts, many banks give the option of notifications for transactions over a certain dollar amount and any foreign transactions. You can also have your balances texted to you via a savings app like Digit, though that comes with a monthly fee of $5 after a free trial period.
Whichever option you choose, looking at your bank account and credit card balances regularly can help ease some of the stress and anxiety you have around your money. That will put you back in control.
Don't miss the last five days:
- Day 8: Create an essentials-only budget
- Day 9: Check your credit score
- Day 10: Write down your interest rates
- Day 11: Do you know your net worth? Create a personal balance sheet to find out
- Day 12: Protect your money by changing your banking passwords