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If You Don’t Mind Your Money, No One Will

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Do you care about your money? Statistics show that you don't. Here are some common ways people don't care about their money and lose in the long run.

In the United States, there is $58 billion dollars in unclaimed money from forgotten pensions, unclaimed life insurance payouts, and other random investments. Additionally, approximately $750 million dollars in gift cards will go unused in a year. And, let’s not even talk about how much we spend on the small fees that really add up like ATM fees, bank fees and convenience charges.

The point is, so many Americans have no idea where their money is going, and so many of them are unsure about where their money is invested, who holds their life insurance policies, and basically, what their cash flow looks like day in and day out.

Unfortunately, even the best financial advisor can’t talk to you about every single purchase you make in your life. Only you can truly be the one to take charge of your money. In fact (and I’m not the first person to say it) no one will ever care more about your money than you do. Here’s why:

They’re Worried About Their Own Money

 

Most people can’t worry about your money because they’re too caught up in worrying about their own lives, their own money and their own profits. You can’t expect your bank to call you, admit they’ve been charging you way too much in fees and offer to lower them (although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?)

Additionally, you can’t expect your credit card company to just voluntarily call you and lower your interest rate. Nope, if you want a better deal on cable, if you want a lower interest rate on your card, and if you want to haggle over the price of your new sofa, you have to do it.

Very rarely will anyone offer to take an interest in your own personal finances. They are simply too caught up in their own money and running their own businesses to take any sort of deep concern in yours. So, if they are going to be so caught up in their own money monitoring, you might as well be regularly managing yours. You can do this through a free service like Personal Capital or Mint to name a few.

People Make Mistakes

 

There are small mistakes and there are big mistakes. An example of a big mistake are instances when traders accidentally make a typo causing sudden stock crashes and swings, something the SEC says definitely happens.

So, you can’t expect your bank teller to type in the correct numbers every time or the waiter at the restaurant to read your handwriting correctly on the tip line of your receipt. Sometimes your card won’t work well at a store and they swipe it again, but later you find two identical charges in a row.

Another example is just recently I had to dispute four different charges on my credit card worth collectively $70 because I cancelled some magazine subscriptions and they charged me anyway for them when it was time to renew. I got all my money back, but had I not been paying attention to each and every place I spend money, I would have never noticed those random charges on my account. I’m glad that I watch and check my accounts every day, so none of these incorrect charges goes by unnoticed.

Do you care about your money? Statistics show that you don't. Here are some common ways people don't care about their money and lose in the long run.

So, when it comes to your money, the best advice I can give you is to simply pay attention. You are the person who is in charge of your financial destiny. You are the one who has the power to learn about the market, choose mutual funds and ask the right questions at work when it comes to ensuring your 401(k) is set up properly.

Although I wish that technology always worked correctly or that people always had your best interests in mind, the truth is you never know. So, you should check every item on your account statements, regularly seek out ways to get discounts and do your part to actively learn about the best ways to make your money grow. If you do this and remember that no one will care about your money as much as you do, you will be well on your way to financial security and substantial wealth in the future.

 

Do you regularly check your accounts? Do you have any examples of when regular account monitoring has been beneficial for you? If you work in financial services, when have you seen an innocent mistake cost a customer money?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families. Check out her award winning blog, CatherineAlford.com.

17 Comments

  • No one has a bigger interest in your money than you. I use a personal capital to make it easy to keep an eye on all my accounts and check it regularly.

  • Great points. We’ve had trouble with our mortgage pre-payments being applied properly. Once they didn’t apply any of our payment to the mortgage and if we hadn’t been monitoring the account our mortgage wouldn’t gone unpaid (despite the fact that we sent double the amount!).

    I did just find $100 in gift cards, $50 of which I didn’t know we had. Oops! I am going to be using those ASAP on needs during after-Christmas sales.

  • I love this! I just wrote recently about how no one has a bigger interest in your financial situation than yourself. If you ever try to rely on someone entirely for it, you are going to come up short!

    I essentially review every transaction we make every month to make sure we aren’t charged for something we shouldn’t have been. I could improve on matching restaurant receipts to what I am charged on my credit card to make sure they match. I rarely do that so hopefully it hasn’t actually been an issue in the past.

  • Syed says:

    Spot on. Financial awareness on a micro and macro level is essential. And it’s all about habits. If you regularly peruse your credit card statement when it arrives in your inbox, then you will most likely catch any mistakes that can show up.

  • Kara @ Money Saving Maven says:

    I remind myself of this all the time. I’m also guilty of harping on my husband when I see charges I don’t recognize…. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Great post. We check out accounts often and somehow I still find mistakes all the time. It would cost us a lot of money if I stopped checking!

  • We check our balances at least twice a week. When I do, I review all of the transactions to be sure that they’re for the right amount — and that we made them.

    Like you said, if we don’t, who will?

  • Definitely, I always check my account as often as possible to make sure that everything is in control. And, whenever I do this, I am reminded of my financial goals and things I need to do to budget my money. It is truly beneficial when I do it more than once a week.

  • So true. We bought an area rug at an online store recently and used a coupon code to get ~$35 off. When the charge posted to our credit card, though, it was for the full price. We contacted them and they immediately refunded the $35, but if we hadn’t been paying attention no one else would have noticed. It always pays to watch where your money is going.

  • So true! You came up with a frightening number of examples! I just started using Personal Capital, and the 401K fee analyzer tool is fantastic! It motivated me to finally roll over some of our old 401K accounts!

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