For so many of us, money is difficult part of our lives to manage. It can create some very negative emotions in our heads if we feel we are behind our peers or we feel levels of incompetency when it appears our friends are doing better. In many ways, money is one of those compasses in life that allow us to compare and contrast ourselves against others. Just like watching your weight, one of the questions often posed to me is whether looking at your money every day is a good idea? Even the super trainers in America, including Jillian Michaels, say weighing yourself every day is a bad idea. Other studies done by the University Of North Carolina http://blog.loseit.com/daily-weighing/ suggest that those who weighed themselves every day lose more weight and keep the weight off longer than those who periodically checked in on a sporadic basis. So, will looking at your money every day help keep and stay financially fit? Here are three strategies on what you should and should not be looking at every day.
- CHECKING ACCOUNT- The checking account (and your credit cards) should really be your daily accountability dipstick. If there was a financial FitBit that would alert you on your wrist every time you went over one of your monthly budget items, people would end up spending less per category in my opinion. The checking account is a measurement of the intake and output of your monthly cash flow. Consider that almost everything we do is electronic today and thus we don’t really have line of sight about what we are putting into our financial bodies every day. If you looked at your credit card statements and checking account daily, this would help you increase your overall awareness of what is happening with your cash flow. This is in part how you can lose more financial weight (spend less) and keep it off over the long term (save more).
- WHAT YOU ARE SAVING- We often focus on what we spend and not on what we save. In order to stay fit, there is a balance between eating right and exercising frequently. While you can’t realistically look every day at what you save, I’ve suggested applications that will actually pull savings from your bank accounts if you aren’t disciplined enough to save on your own. At least once per month, you should take stock of what you have saved between 401k, company match, and personal savings that come out of your bank account. You might imagine that you’ll save more if you have a better handle on your checking account, but it is important that you push yourself to get as much of your savings out of mind out of sight. We know from experience that for most families what hits the bank account will end up getting spent.
- INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS- Reviewing your investment accounts daily is what will absolutely drive you crazy. Have you seen the person in the grocery store who is reading the nutrition facts on the back of every package before they purchase the item? It’s pretty apparent that buying Doritos or little chocolate donuts aren’t good for you without having to look at the side of a package. What you can know is that by eating the right foods and keeping a long term approach to your exercise and diet, you can keep yourself at a normal weight. Since different investments vary so much on a daily basis depending on what happens in the stock market, bond market, oil market, currency, etc., checking long term investment on a daily basis will drive you crazy unless day trading is your profession. It is recommended that you check in weekly or monthly to make sure you haven’t gone too far off track, but remember most of your investments that are designed for more than five years can have a high amount of daily volatility so weighing in every day can make you feel like the guy below.
While there are varying opinions on the best methodology on how to lose weight, use these three money guidelines to help yourself get and stay financially thin.
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.