As you might have read yesterday, I'm hoping to get a tighter grasp on my finances this year. (It's not a resolution; they're just some goals I'd like to work on this year - and in years to come!) I alluded to the fact that I'll be researching some techniques that may help me, but also to some factors that have me thinking about cutting out some other "techniques".
That may sound vague, so I'll let you into my brain. I read an article discussing, of all things, the censorship issue that's been plastered all over the news and web and how the 24-hours without Wikipedia affected folks. From there, it poses the question of having ZERO internet.
A huge internet fail would be a huge shock in many parts of, well, all of our lives. Lots of our jobs rely on the interwebs, but even the way in which some of us live our daily lives would be blown out of the water. I know mine would...although, there's an antiquated part of me that hopes, one day, to be able to use the internet for brief positives, but simultaneously be able to disconnect without "jonesing" for it. And, dude, I'm not even a smart phone user.
I thought further about how a major loss of internet would impact my finances, and realized that - holy crap - it really would. While I utilize a local credit union that has very basic, infrequently updated online banking services, I also use them to pay certain bills automatically. Most of these auto payments are made online. I only pay two monthly bills traditionally - with real math, a checkbook, and a stamp.
Many of us use the convenience of payment services (and direct deposit!) to make our lives easier. It's so easy that I have very little connection between my money and where it goes - seriously, what bills do I pay, anyway? It's just that easy to get disconnected from your money. So, when it's nearly gone, you have no idea - or go into shock when you check your account only to realize the amount isn't what you thought it would or should be. It's a tough lesson, and a pretty depressing way to live.
Even after doing my best to keep an eye on spending this month so far, I realized that I still wasn't aware of what my income was doing. It's a lot like a relationship - if you don't pay attention to it, you can't expect it to be all that it can be (fulfilling for both involved, supportive, etc), and before too long you're in trouble. So, I realized I need to develop a relationship with my finances. I've gotta spend more time with it, check in to see how it's doing, and focus on it - even if it's inconvenient.
So, rather than changing absolutely everything immediately, I'm going to start (one at a time) getting back to paying bills by check. While I hate the idea of receiving bills in the mail, as long as I'm getting a reminder of a due date, I think that I'll be much more aware of my finances again. Kind of old-fashioned, but at least I won't be so reliant upon the interwebs - and hopefully I'll be more self-reliant, instead. And I'd be if lots of us made changes like these, the postal service wouldn't be in its current mess.
What method do you use? Auto-pay (but are on top of your stuff, unlike me)? The old-fashioned way? Do tell!