By: Chellie Mejia, B.Sc.
A true lovechild of the 21st century, one of the things that really changed my financial life, and made me feel like I was in control of my financial future, was the onset of managing my money safely and securely online.
I’ll be completely honest with you. If you mail me something, I’ll lose it. I will. Guaranteed. Within days sometimes, but usually, within hours. Paper statements rarely get opened and build up into scary, intimidating little piles on top of my microwave before I just close my eyes and shred them. I own a cheque book, but I can’t find it, let alone a stamp to mail —well anything, really. I use my envelopes to collect my receipts, but then I lose those envelopes, and it’s always a sad day when that happens.
I should probably learn to curb all of these bad habits, but truth be told, I’ve learnt that I really don’t have to. I go paperless with all my accounts so that bills and statements are emailed directly to me and accessible from pretty much anywhere. I can find them when I need them, use the little arrows in the top menu to sort them how I want them, and since I check my email every 10-15 seconds on my smartphone (and that’s only a slight exaggeration), I haven’t run into a situation yet where I’ve missed a bill payment due date. Plus, I get the added incentive of being “environmentally friendly and green”. Bonus!
I pay my bills online by setting up pre-authorized payments with any service provider that will allow me to do so. Then, I put a recurring reminder into my calendar just to make sure I download and reconcile all my bills monthly, making sure everything is accurate and good to go. My banking institutions allow me to download every transaction into Microsoft Money, which makes for a pretty easy and quick analysis of my current financial position and makes planning or catching inadequacies a lot easier as well.
Online money management has even made a difference in managing my investment strategies. I can see at a glance, and from different perspectives, how my investment accounts are doing and decide pretty quickly whether it’s time to relocate assets if they’re not earning what I thought they would.
So, while I may eventually have to backtrack my 21st century inadequacies for things like handwritten thank you notes and human interaction (and I am trying, I promise!), for now, managing my personal finances has never been easier, more cost effective, or more green (which is always a great bonus).