You walk up to the ATM and put in your bank card.
After entering your PIN number, you hit the “Balance Inquiry” button.
The receipt spits out, you grab it and read that there’s $925 left in your checking account.
You say to yourself, “OK, I have $925 left in my account and that needs to last me for another 8 days. I think I can make that work and still go out to eat tonight”.
Well my friend, you’re walking a fine line. Checking your account balance each day as a budgeting tool just doesn’t cut it.
Focus on Your Budget, Not Your Balance
That $925 in your account should have a job. It should already be accounted for. You need to be aware of the required expenses that are coming up and that $925 should be allocated for in a budget. So create a budget and stick to it!
Monitoring your balance can also give you a false sense of security.
If you see that you have a good chunk of change in the bank, you may be more likely to spend it frivolously. You might say, “you know what, I deserve this”.
But you may be spending money on discretionary things when your mandatory expenses haven’t all been paid yet. That’s just bad planning. However, a good budget can keep you on track.
When It’s OK to Monitor Your Balance
As I mentioned already, checking your account balance as your primary budgeting tool is a no-no. However, there are certainly some instances where it’s OK to check your account balances frequently.
If that’s the case, you’re going to have a budget but you also want to closely monitor your account balance to make sure you’re not going below a $0 balance in your account. You have to avoid those nasty bank fees!
It may take you a few months to get out of that paycheck to paycheck cycle. When you finally break free, monitoring your account balances won’t be as necessary as before.
As you move through the steps and things start looking up, you also want to monitor your balances to watch them grow.
Whether you’re saving a little cash or funding your retirement accounts, watching the accounts swell with money always feels good!
* * * * *
I’ve had a lot people come to me with money problems. Some of those people even thought that budgeting was just monitoring an account balance. I’ve helped them break through that myth, focus on their goals and get on a path to financial freedom. Are you heading down the right path?