This post contains affiliate links to Personal Capital, a free online money management tool. I love it and have used it every day for over a year to manage my own finances.
I’m a firm believer in the power of a daily financial routine, and today I’d like to share mine — it’s quite simple, and it usually takes less than 5 minutes!
I use Personal Capital to track my household’s income and expenses. Each morning (usually armed with a strong cup of coffee 🙂 ), I log into my account and categorize new transactions. Even though Personal Capital does this automatically, I like to double check each transaction for consistency’s sake. If the transaction title is vague, I edit it to be more specific — for example, “Amazon” could be a huge variety of things, so I might edit it to “Amazon – contact solution and floss.” If I don’t recognize a transaction, I send a quick email to my husband and categorize it the next day after he gets back to me. I also take a quick look at our overall spending for the month to make sure we’re on track for our monthly spending. Personal Capital generates charts and graphs, so it’s incredibly easy to see this at a glance. I also make a note of the cash in each of our accounts.
Note: I also have monthly and yearly financial routines! Check back for updates 🙂
While some might think it’s overkill to look at the numbers every day, I find that there’s a slew of benefits. If I review my finances each day:
- It takes less time. There are fewer transactions to categorize, and it’s easier and less stressful to remember what each traction is.
- It takes away the fear of the unknown. It’s easier to look at the numbers objectively — rather anxiously wondering how much I’ve spent that month. And when I’m at the store, I don’t make my purchases based on how much I “feel” like I’ve spent that month — I make them based on how much I’ve actually spent that month.
- It’s easier to catch fraudulent charges. My husband and I have caught many $10 or $20 fraudulent charges because we review the numbers frequently. These charges were made at very plausible stores, and it’s very possible we would have missed them if we had waited a few months after the fact to be up to date with the books.
- It’s easier to prevent overspending. In my experience, overspending isn’t generally the result of one day of poor impulse control — it comes from the accumulation of many, many small choices. If I know that I spent a little more than usual at the grocery store last week, it’s easy enough to cut a few unnecessary items from my list this week. Conversely, if I know I’ve under-spent on my groceries for the month, I can buy some fun extras at the end of the month guilt-free!
- It’s easier to identify areas of waste. As I categorize my transactions, I like to ask myself: did this purchase add value to my life? If I could go back in time, would I make this purchase again? If the answer to those questions is no, it motivates me to make different spending choices in the future.
What is your daily financial routine?