Of all the financial tools out there, there are very few that you actually need in order to be financially fit. But there is one critical tool that’s overlooked and underutilized the most: your monthly bank statement.
Yeah, I’m talking about that thing that gets mailed to you that you never open or that you hardly ever log in to review. That thing gets no love but is deserving of so much appreciation and some attention!
This isn’t a post about how silly you are for ignoring your statements. It’s about how you can make a simple adjustment to these pages and turn them into something you actually look forward to receiving – because with this alteration, they’re actually super helpful.
There is good and bad news here. The bad news is that not all banks are willing to do this, and the best work around solution I’ve thought up isn’t all that great. So if your bank refuses, my advice is to find a new bank. The good news? It’s really simple to get if your bank is willing to provide them. You just ask for it one time.
Here’s what to ask for: calendar-month statements for both your checking and saving accounts. A calendar month statement is a statement that covers only one month, as in the first of the month to the end of the month, whereas usually the statement covers part of one month and part of another. A bank statement that covers July 20th to August 18th is not helpful to your financial fitness but a statement that covers July 1st to July 31st is absolutely helpful, and frankly necessary, to being financially fit.
Remember that financial fitness is achieved monthly. A quick refresher on the Five-Question Financially Fit Test:
Each month, you must answer: “yes!” to each of the following questions about the previous month–
1. Do I know how much money came in?
2. Do I know how much money went out?
3. Did more come in than go out?
4. Do I know where all my money went?
5. Did my money go where I intended it to go?
A financially fit person does not rely solely on a bank statement to answer these questions, but a calendar-month statement is a simple, top-notch data tool for helping to answer the questions and pass the test.
So call up or visit your bank today and request (ie. politely demand) that they provide you with calendar-month statements for your checking and savings account. They will not be able to retroactively change past statements, but they can provide you the statements this way from here on out.
And don’t worry about getting calendar-month statements for your credit cards. The credit card companies mostly won’t do it and it’s not necessary, or even ideal for everyone, anyway.