OK, it’s confession time: I look at my bank accounts and Mint account every day. And when I say “every day,” I actually mean “more than once on some (OK, most) days.”
Luckily, I do not incessantly check my finances because I need to make sure I have enough money in my debit account before a bill hits. I look at my balances constantly because I like knowing exactly where I stand, every day, down to the cent. I am a money micromanager.
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The Anxiety of Automation
When I first started on my debt repayment journey (with student loans and a little too much credit card debt), I put everything I could think of on autopilot. My paychecks were automatically transferred to my checking account, with a certain percentage of funds automatically going to savings. I had (and still have) all of my student loan payments, as well as my rent and other bills, set to be automatically paid each month from my account. Insurance premiums were paid for out of a fund, which, you guessed it, was filled automatically each month with a pre-calculated amount.
Basically, if it could be automated, it was.
Although all of these things are still automated simply for convenience reasons, there was just something about the “set it and forget it” approach that made me uneasy. I knew all of my bills were going to be paid on time, I knew I was building my savings at a slow but manageable pace — yet, I was never comfortable with my money until I started keeping a constant eye on it.
Feeling in Control
Micromanaging my money means knowing where every cent is going or has gone almost all the time. At any given time, I can tell you, down to the cent, how much is in my checking, emergency fund, savings and retirement accounts, as well as the total balance of my student loans and remaining credit card debt. For me, micromanaging is all about control.
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Since most of my financial goals are simply a matter of time (saving up for a certain goal with $X amount per month), you would think not knowing it is there would make it better. However, I find that seeing the monthly or daily increases in my accounts or the chipping away of my student debt, motivates me. If I look at my account one morning and see that I am only $3.90 away from my next milestone savings goal, micromanaging allows me to transfer that money over immediately. A little instant gratification during the long slog that is fixing my finances keeps me on track day in and day out.
It’s All About What Works Best for You
Micromanaging is certainly not for everyone, but it can be helpful for people like me, who need to see a little indicator that they are staying the course. I am in control when I know my account balances, and I am a far better decision maker, too. Money micromanagement keeps me from making impulse purchases most of the time, and it causes me to speed up my goal timelines since I am always in a position to decide if something is really worth buying when I could be that much closer to my next goal.
Paying attention to every transaction, even the monthly ones I scheduled myself, gives me back some of the control I crave while I work towards my personal finance goals.
Click to read more about how one man saved $1 million in just five years.
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