How do you feel when you check your bank balance?
At the end of each month, do you dread getting an alert in your email inbox or a letter through the door about how much cash you have left to spend, or how much you owe? Do you sweat every time you approach an ATM machine, because you’re not sure whether you’re going to be able to get your hands on some cash, or just discover that you’re overdrawn?
You’re not the only one who feels this way. A lot of Americans struggle to maintain a positive relationship with their bank accounts, particularly in today’s complicated climate. However, there are ways that you can start to make a positive change.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to get started.
1. Start Checking your Credit Report
One of the best ways to improve your relationship with not just your bank account, but your entire financial strategy is to begin checking your credit report more regularly. You can find various tools online that allow you to examine your current score without leaving any marks on your rating. This is an excellent way to make sure that you know where you stand when it comes to applying for loans, new homes, and even jobs.
Some employers will check your credit report to see how trustworthy and reliable you are. If you want to make sure that you can get the lowest rates on your loans, and the best income from your career, you need to keep an eye on your score. Remember, a good credit score could reduce the cost of a vehicle loan by thousands of dollars over the course of your repayment period.
2. Learn How to Use your Bank’s Features
You might not be making the most of your bank account and the unique features that it has to offer. For instance, a lot of bank accounts come with the option to check your balance online. If you’re not using this solution already, it could be a great way to make sure that you’re tracking exactly how much you spend each month.
You might also be able to take advantage of tools that allow you to automatically pay money into your savings at the beginning of each month, so you don’t forget to pay towards your long-term goals. Some banks also come with the option to make mini payments into investments every time you make a purchase, which means you build more cash for the long-term. These tools take the left over cash from your payments to round them up to an even number. For instance, if you paid $8.90 for something $1.10 of your money would be put into an investment, rather than back into your bank account.
3. Put Your Bills on Auto-Pay
Bills are stressful enough without you having to worry about things like extra fees and penalties because you haven’t paid what you owe on time. Rather than having to worry about the extra expenses associated with a late fee, make sure that you set the money for your bills to come out of your bank account every month as soon as you’ve been paid.
The great thing about this strategy is that when you check your account a few days after being paid, your bills will already have been dealt with. That means that the money left over in your bank account is more likely to be free for you to use. If you’ve ever bought something at the beginning of a month, only to remember about a bill you need to pay later, you’ll know how useful this feature is.
4. Get Some Free Advice
If you feel like you need some help with anything from credit cards and debts, to simply opening the best savings account for your needs, there are people available at your bank that can answer your questions. If you’re willing to sit down and talk with someone, you could get a lot of useful information about where you can store your money, what kind of investments you might be able to make, and even where you can reduce costs on things like overdraft fees.
Even if you don’t want to sit down with someone at your bank, you might find that the company you bank with has some useful information online. A lot of modern banks are now creating FAQ pages and blogs for their website, where you can go to access extra information about the services that are available to customers.