I’ve probably checked my main current account balance everyday – more or less – for the last 15 years. I check my portfolio about once a month but the indices about daily.
Is that too much / too often / too time consuming? Am I obsessed, is this OCD? And what would I do if I was truly FI?
My Dad used to check the fridge to see if there was enough milk for the morning – and if there wasn’t he’d set off to buy more at whatever hour of the night.
People check their phones scores of times a day – particularly if they are hooked on social media.
I check for my emails more often than they are sent – work, family office and personal – it’s like an addiction!
So, in the modern world, we are kept on a constant state of digital addiction. It’s not an original thought and I probably am remembering what I heard on the excellent programme on Radio 4, The Digital Human with great podcasts like Crutch and Insatiable, all about how we humans operate in a digital world. Have a listen if you have the time.
Thinking forward to a time where my investment income exceeds my spending; when my investing is automated and there’s no pressing need to check any of these things – how often would I check my bank balance?
I can think of many reasons to check it just today like:
- I got paid today, did I?
- I need to pay the nanny, do I have enough?
- Did my dividends from VCTs come through?
- Do I have money to invest in my ISA / LISA this month?
- Were there any unknown transactions on my account (fraud alert?)
But, the fact is that I don’t really need to check it – I could reduce it from a daily to a weekly event and not suffer much harm. Even if I was overdrawn by £1000, the cost is only about £4 at most.
I try to run a tight ship between keeping my money coming in (job income, child benefit, VCT dividends, P2P returns, cashback, share/ETF dividends…) and going out (mortgage, council tax, gas/elec, credit cards, general spending, investments, P2P, nanny maternity pay…), the secret is not just to spend less than you earn but also to balance these forces and utilise your money efficiently – that’s what I think anyway.
But, most of these payments are automatic and I can generally predict my full spending on the month in advance. I could also simplify my investments like dropping P2P (it’s a love/hate thing) and never really need to look at my bank balance but once a month – buy/sell ETFs to make up for the shortfall/surplus and get back to living a simple life.
How much of our money habits are just bad habits in that we are wasting our time doing them? I already seldom check my share/etf portfolio value (roughly 2/3 times a month) and only do it then to make changes to regular investments (to keep costs down) and month-end values. But I still take an active interest in what the FTSE100 is up to, checking everyday.
I try to only update monthly my expenses spreadsheet that has details of all my income, outgoings, assets and everything like that (graphs, graphs, lots of graphs). But I end up fiddling with it when I should really be working.
Am I just a time-waster and should I quit it and put that energy to better use? Some of the reasons I “need” to do something look a bit stupid written down, so maybe a weekly look (at leisure and in depth rather than a cursory glance) is a better approach. And the fear of going into my overdraft? Rather obvious now, but maybe there is function with internet banking that allows you to see if your balance is below £100 or something like that? Then I can just set and forget.
Financial Independence should be where you are independent of money – not just from work but from worry too. It’s different from being frugal – frugal is living within your means and being happy about. This is more like being a miser and, to be rich and still worry means you are a slave to money and I don’t want that for us.