Why is it important to review your bank statement each month?

by Maria Espinosa

Why is it important to review your bank statement each month

In the labyrinth of personal finance, your credit union or bank statement serves as a guiding light, illuminating your path to financial health and security. It's more than just a piece of paper or a digital record—it's a mirror reflecting your financial habits, transactions, potential vulnerabilities, and banking activity over a specific period.

Understanding the significance of bank statements is crucial for account holders, especially those with accounts at multiple financial institutions (FIs) or holding different types of accounts. Account statements provide a comprehensive overview of all activities within an account over a period of time, encompassing a wide range of transactions such as debit card withdrawals, credit card charges, and direct deposits made into your checking account. Included in these statements are details about the FI, such as the institution's name, phone number, website, as well as the account name and number, starting and ending balances, interest rate or dividends earned (if applicable), and a thorough breakdown of the activity in the statement period.

Let's look further into why it's crucial to review your bank statement each month and how this practice supports your financial wellness. Regularly examining your statement not only sheds light on any charges, like service fees or overdraft fees, but also unveils any potential red flags indicating fraudulent activity. By dedicating this time to each statement period, you equip yourself with the awareness and knowledge to safeguard your financial fortress.

Reasons to Review Your Bank Statement Monthly

Regularly reviewing your statements each month allows you to track your spending, keep an eye on your ending balances, and spot any suspicious account activity. Additionally, beyond just monitoring transactions and balances, accessing your bank statements can assist you in budgeting effectively, fulfilling loan application requirements, and even securing rental properties. Here's a more detailed exploration of why it's essential to remain vigilant and monitor your statements:

  • Detecting Fraudulent Activity and Unauthorized Transactions: Consistently reviewing your statement allows you to quickly spot any suspicious or unauthorized transactions. This can help you detect and prevent fraud before it causes significant financial damage. By promptly reporting any fraudulent charges or activity, you can protect your funds and minimize the potential impact on your financial security. If you suspect you have been exposed to suspicious activity or fallen victim to fraud or identity theft, you should take action immediately using the steps here.
  • Ensuring Accuracy of Financial Records: Reviewing your account or credit card statement each month will help to ensure the accuracy of your financial records. Errors or discrepancies in your statement can go unnoticed and may indicate potential issues with your accounts or transactions. By carefully examining every entry on your statement, you can identify errors and rectify them before they snowball into major issues in the future.
  • Tracking Spending Habits and Savings Goals: Your bank statement provides valuable insights into your cash flow and spending habits, allowing you to track where your money is going each month. By embracing the habit of reviewing your expenses, you gain invaluable insights into your spending habits and can make adjustments to meet your savings goals.
  • Maintaining Financial Control and Security: By reviewing this snapshot of your financial situation, you'll be able to identify potential issues or concerns and take proactive steps to address them. This practice fosters accountability and equips you to make well-informed financial decisions, ultimately enhancing your financial control and security.

How to Obtain a Bank Statement

Obtaining your bank statement is a straightforward process thanks to modern conveniences and technology. Here are a few simple methods to access your statements:

  • Online Banking: Simply log in to your online banking portal or mobile banking app and navigate to the statements section. From there, you can easily opt for a paperless copy by either downloading or viewing your e-statements in PDF format.
  • Paper Statements: If you prefer physical copies of your statements, you can request your financial institution to send them to you via mail. Keep in mind that some FIs may charge a fee for paper statements.
  • ATM: Some ATMs offer the option to print your statement on the spot. Check if your FI provides this feature and follow the on-screen instructions to obtain your statement.
  • In Person: You can visit your nearest branch and request a printed copy of your statement from a teller or financial service representative. Remember to bring along valid identification and your account information for verification purposes.

Choose the method that is most convenient for you and ensure you regularly obtain your bank statement to review and monitor your financial transactions.

Tips for Effective Bank Account Monitoring

For optimal management of your credit union or bank account and to fully leverage the advantages of reviewing your statements each month, consider the following tips:

  • Set a Reminder: Designate a specific day each month to review your account statement. This will help you establish a routine and ensure you don't forget to perform this important task.
  • Verify All Transactions: Carefully review each transaction listed on your statement and verify that it matches your records. Pay attention to any unfamiliar or suspicious entries and investigate them further if needed.
  • Keep Organized Records: Maintain organized records of your account statements, either digitally or in physical form. This will make it easier to track your financial history and refer back to previous statements if necessary.
  • Monitor Account Balances: Regularly check your account balances or add alerts to ensure they align with the amounts listed on your statement, flagging any disparities for immediate attention.
  • Report Any Issues Promptly: If you identify any errors, discrepancies, or unauthorized transactions, contact your FI immediately to report the issue. Timely intervention can mitigate risks and preserve your financial security.

Reviewing your statement each month isn't just a mundane chore—it's a powerful tool for safeguarding your financial future. By embracing this practice, you embark on a journey of empowerment, armed with the knowledge and insight to navigate the twists and turns of personal finance with confidence and resilience. So, seize control of your financial destiny, one bank statement at a time. Your future self will thank you for it.