Balance in a Teeter Totter World

During my Boot Camp time, I came across some good advice.  I came across some expected advice.  I also came across some advice that out and out felt wrong. 

It was on a blog post, one of those bulleted  types of posts: "Ten Things To Do Every Day In Your Frugal Life", sorts of things.  And yes, that is a made up title so if you  do a search and find a blog post so titled  then please understand that is NOT the blog post I am citing. 

On this particular post, there was plenty of the expected stuff: stop buying coffee shop coffees, stop eating out, cook meals at home...  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  But tucked in among those was the statement that you should go online and check your bank account balance every single day first thing in the morning, perhaps even more than once a day.  Everything in me rose up and screamed 'NO!' 

John and I are a bit smitten when it comes to certain movies, like "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory".  There's one scene that absolutely floors me with the spot on wisdom written into it.  The scene where Charlie finds the last golden ticket and after showing it to his family tells them he's going to sell it.  A woman has offered him a lot of money and the family is desperately poor.  They could most certainly use it.  His Grandpa George says to him: "There's plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there's only five of them in the whole world, and that's all there's ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?"  

The family is dirt poor, are scrabbling hard and losing by yards every day but Grandpa George has not lost sight of fact:  money is not the be all and end all in the world.  Experiences count far more than dollars in a lifetime.  Of course, Charlie keeps his golden ticket and his life changes as a result, although it's a slow change.

I love today's technology in many ways but it also has it's problems.  There was a day and time where you kept up with your bank balance by keeping track of what you were spending in your check register or by the cash left in your pocket.  A bank statement arrived once a month and you confirmed your balance using the handy little form on the back of the statement, adding in any additional deposits, subtracting outstanding checks which had not yet arrived at the bank from the total and voila, your balance.  If you happened to be the sort to live life on the foolish side you'd overdraw and the bank sent you a lovely little reminder that you'd drawn on insufficient funds and told you the price you'd pay for such silliness.   The mafia had better rates...No offense to the bank, mind you.  It wasn't their fault you'd overspent.  I personally think to overdraw an account on purpose is akin to stealing.  Mistakes happen, true, but as a supervisor once told me, to make the same mistake over and over again is stupidity in action.

All that to say, you SHOULD always know about what you have in the bank.  And you should check it now and again during a month's time to insure you haven't forgotten some transaction, especially if you happen to live rather close to the edge of having some money and no money. That's being smart. But checking your balance every day, and most especially several times a day, is only going to lead to an obsession.  While you might well need to balance your check book you need even more to live your life in a balanced way.  There is nothing more fragile than a money obsessed individual.

I sometimes find myself out of balance here on the blog, and occasionally even in my life, when I've spent too much time focusing only on saving money, how to save money, how to cut expenses, etc.  But there's a reason why I have those Iced Tea/Coffee Chats and In My Home This Week posts sprinkled in amongst the ones on savings:  it's to remind you, and myself, that there is a life to be lived, there are things to do, places to go, people to spend time with, things that are still to be discovered.  I can save every single coin and dollar that comes my way, but if that is all my life is focused upon then I'm unbalanced.

I'm not telling you it's an easy thing to find that balance.  I don't work hard at saving funds simply because it's fun though I do admit to finding it a sort of creative outlet.  I have to save where I can  in order to keep up with an inflationary rate I have absolutely no control over.  BUT I also know there are savings I'll forgo because it means giving up time sitting on my front porch with my husband, time with a good book, or focusing on some other aspect of homemaking that brings me joy...I know which is the most important of the many things on my plate!  So yes, it's worthwhile to learn to find that right balance for you and your household where savings and budget and overall quality of life happily meet. 

Until the day I awake to find the ship really did come in and it was loaded with funds, I'll be aware of about what we have in the bank, about how much of it is funds meant to be spent and how much of it is there for emergencies.  I won't however, be obsessively checking my balance, fretting over every penny that is not there the next day.  I'll check in periodically to be sure things look right.  I think that is only wise.  For the rest of my time however, I'll be busy in my home, enjoying my life and doing the very best I can to live a full life that isn't focused solely upon my bank balance but instead is well balanced overall.


Lana said...

I get everything you are saying here but if you have a debit card you need to check your bank balance daily. Last summer we had our account cleaned out by someone who got my debit card number. It took them about 3 days to do it and we could have caught it if we had not been on vacation and out of touch. Now my husband gets a text alerting him to anything more than $100 that comes out of our account. This whole thing was a huge headache and the money was not restored to us for 60 days. It just happened to be a time when we had an extra large amount in our checking account and they left us $183. We no longer have a debit card. The employee at the bank who handled our case said they are safe to use NO WHERE. BTW they did get the guy. He actually paid off some small loans with my debit card number. Real smart, right?

Iris Dondlinger said...

I also check our account online once a day. Just last week I caught a $3,000 error. We had taken our dog and two cats to the vet and the bill was $325. When they ran our card she accidentally charged us $3,250. Neither of us noticed it at the time but I did the next morning. Luckily they refunded us the amount immediately but it took 3 business days to show up in our account. If I hadn't checked it that morning and just waited for the statement it would of been 3 weeks later.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if this lady on the blog had perhaps once had her funds stolen out of her account and is now extra worried it might happen again. I also heard some banks charge you for even checking on our balance if you do it more than so many times a month...or if you take out money at the bank or at a machine over so many times a month. Years back our bank made a big thing of offering children savings accounts. It was a big promotion. They did not charge them for having a low balance. It was a kids account and they understood it would not add up to too much or grow too fast. Then a couple years later they did charge and some accounts then went to 0. They also then added more charges because the account was still open. Now they charge for everything and if you don't have tons of $ at their bank you are charged even more. Plus restricting your access to services. Even our friend who does have tons of money in the bank pays on things they used to get free and higher fees for those they did still have to pay. Everyone is getting rich but us! :) Then they got a notice that very soon they will be restricted as to how much $ they can pull out of an IRA at one time. So they cannot just close the whole thing out even if they did not care about what money they lost doing it they couldn't. Whose money is it?? I wonder if this is because they are trying to protect the stock market if something happened all of a sudden?
Yes you have to try to have enough money saved for your retirement. Yet you also need to use some of it making memories so later in life you have those memories too to smile over. You need to strive ahead yet lay back and relax some too. Also I wonder what people will do if they have amassed a Lot of money then something in our economy happens and they loose most of it. Maybe it would have been better to spend some of that. A few years before they retired my parents saved ahead and redid their roof and sprinkler systems, windows heater or whatever would break down in the next 20 years during their retirement. Anything that was a old got a looking over and redone. Then they relaxed knowing most of that was done and those huge expenses would hopefully not come due on their now limited income. If they would have just saved that money what if something happened and they lost it and then could not get these essential things replaced? It was a wake up call when we heard this. It made sense.
We have all gone through a recession and stock market down turn. It takes years for things to hopefully right itself. Many of us don't have years to wait.
I have heard some European countries no longer give Any interest $ for deposit accounts at the bank. They charge a monthly fee instead. A negative interest. Bloggers over there are saying many now do not deposit their money but keep it at home. They are also worried that something may happen like it did in Greece where banks closed and you could only get a small amount out of the ATM each day. Remember Greece and Spain were socialist countries that taxed their people highly for all the social services the government gave out. After a while they could not keep up with it all. Sound familiar?
All we can do is the best we can and study and pray for guidance. That has always been true. Add to that helping each other as we go through life. It is certainly not all about us. it is about Him and He is there always. I think I will go out now and water my money tree. LOL Sarah

Lana said...

Sarah, I don't remember the amount but there is a limit to bank withdrawals here now, too. I think it has been kept pretty quiet so that there is not upset about it. Once we knew that we have made a point to have some significant cash on hand. Also, if the power grid were to go down there will be no electronic banking and only those with cash will be able to buy anything. Sadly when the stock market crashed several years ago a friend of my parents took his own life because he lost so much. Living in fear will not benefit us. We just have to be sensible.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying, Terri, and I so agree. Money is nice but it isn't everything. I could get a job and earn more money but I love being home. If I'm careful with what we have, it's enough. Smile

We used to have a debit card but after just a few weeks I gave it back to the bank. I didn't like it. I'll take an old fashioned checkbook. I guess to each his own. Figure out what works for you and go with it. Pam

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