Your task for today is get your last 12 months of bank statements together in one place, and look through them (current account only).
If you have any stray paper statements, hunt them down and file them. If you have online statements, you may need to request copies of the last 12 months of records from your bank – usually sent to you quickly via an automated email.
Once the records are together, go through them. Try to see if there are any patterns: standing orders, unauthorised overdrafts, bank fees, seasonal overspending, small or large cash withdrawals, and so on. Don’t beat yourself up, just get a rough idea of what’s been going on, then put the file away somewhere safe.
Today I noticed that I’d left a couple of bank statements unopened in the office in-tray for the last two months, so I’ve been a bit naughty. Don’t follow my rather rubbish example – it’s best to get into (and stay in) the habit of checking them as soon as they arrive, just in case there’s a problem such as a pressing debt, unexpected debit, or unauthorised activity on your account.
I’ve now filed them and studied their contents, fortunately nothing important or urgent, so I don’t feel quite so bad. And I’ll get right back into the habit of checking them regularly and carefully. Lesson learned.
As a freelancer, I’m also using my bank records to check against my self employment business records today. That’s so that I can get my tax return filed by the end of this week, in plenty of time before the end of January deadline. And I’ve picked up on some interesting seasonal variations, and as-yet unpaid invoices, so it was well worth doing.
EDITED TO ADD: If your bank statements are lost in a huge pile of paperwork and other clutter, use this technique to save time – and don’t try to sort out all your clutter today. Set a kitchen timer for a maximum of 15 minutes, and blast through the pile of clutter, only stopping to put your bank statements to one side. Do not get sidetracked by anything else, just put it all back in the clutter pile. We’re doing some great declutters next week, so you can sort the rest of it out then. Then set the kitchen timer for another 5 minutes and work as fast as you can to open any bank statement envelopes, put them in date order and get them into a ring binder.
Have you found anything interesting today? How long did the basic task take you?
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