If you have a bank account of any kind, you should receive a regular statement telling you exactly what is going on with it. Although the timeframe of the statement can vary according to the type of account, it’s usually monthly.
When it arrives, you may be tempted to chuck it, possibly even unopened, into your nearest drawer or online filing graveyard, if it’s an e-statement. It’s really important that you pay attention to your finances though, and it literally takes a few minutes to check that all is in order. Here’s how:
Check your personal details
Make sure your name is spelled correctly and that all your other details are right too. If you’ve recently moved, the bank may still have your old physical address, especially if you receive your statement electronically.
If you notice any errors, contact the bank immediately to have them fixed as they can have long term effects on your banking record.
Scan the transactions
Read through all the transactions on the bank statement to check that you did actually make them. Bearing in mind that businesses are sometimes registered under different names for banking purposes than the name of the company itself, if you notice any payments that you don’t remember making, or duplicate payments, pay attention.
If you do notice something that looks wrong, with any luck you’ve kept all your receipts and can cross check the transactions on that day. If you haven’t kept your receipts or you’re not sure about something, contact the business and ask if they can check the details on their side.
Sometimes it’s purely a mistake and they’ll happily refund any extra money that has come off. It’s also important that they know that staff members are either making mistakes or actually committing fraud.
Check the fees
There may be a few different fees listed, including monthly service charges and internet banking fees. If these change without your being notified, you should check with your bank why that is.
Also, if the amounts seem particularly high, it’s worth shopping around to find another institution that offers lower fees, especially to students.
Apart from keeping an eye on what’s happening in your account, you’ll be amazed at what you notice about your spending patterns after a couple of months of checking your statement. It can make for interesting reading!