The move to an electronic and online world is great – you can pay bills whenever you want, and you don’t have a ton of paper cluttering your mailbox and house. But there’s a downside to the convenience and efficiency. Without a paper statement automatically showing up in your mailbox each month, it is easy to forget to check your accounts on a regular basis. And if you have automatic payments arranged, you can go months without even thinking about some accounts.
I was reminded of this today when I had to print out a bunch of financial documents. Because I had them in my hands, it was natural to look them over. I found several interesting things, including a charge against my account for a deposit that didn’t clear and an automatic renewal on a service I don’t use. I also have several charges that I don’t recognize. I don’t have good recourse on the check, but I can definitely appeal that automatic renewal, and I can do a little research to make sure that the unclear charges are legitimate.
It’s also important to check your statement to ensure that everything you think is being paid is actually being paid. For example, you might have your internet automatically charged to your credit card. You probably want to make sure that bill gets paid, because it is frustrating when your internet stops working. Checking your statements will help you know that you’re paying the bills you think you’re paying.
The thing about trying to fix errors and problems is that you usually have a specific and limited amount of time to ask for refunds or make appeals or whatever needs to be done. And when you don’t check your statements regularly (as I often don’t), it is easy to miss issues until after that time has passed. And how completely irritating is it when you find mistakes or problems after you can do anything about them??
Here’s my proposal: find some sort of system to remind yourself to check your statements on a regular basis. I’m trying to think of a good system myself, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know. I could use a good idea.