“Most of us file our bank statements away when we receive them, without even opening them. But ignoring your bank statements could be costing you money and have you living under false perceptions of your financial position.
“Instant notifications from your bank as you transact have become an efficient tool in monitoring daily spending, however, in order to remain on top of your finances you need to take a step back each month for a holistic view of how you have transacted,” said Steve Coetzee, Acting Head of FNB Retail Banking.
Coetzee added that it was important not only to assess the cheque account statements but also to pay attention to the credit card and savings account statements in order to make comparisons between spending across the accounts, as well as saving.
He emphasized: “Remember that different aspects of the statement will be important depending on which statement you are analysing. For your everyday transacting account, your cheque account, the opening and closing balance is the most important aspect. This is the account from which debit orders are paid and you need to pay attention and make sure that is a positive balance, so that debit orders are not returned as well as ensuring that they in fact are still presented on a monthly basis. However, when you are looking at your credit card or savings accounts statements, you need to pay attention to the interest received or paid.”
The general basics that all statements will indicate are the main account holder details, the type of account held, a summary of your actions on the account, namely, opening and closing balance, monthly deposits (credits), withdrawals (debits), interest (charged or received) and bank fees.
“As with all information, the true value lies in the interpretation,” noted Coetzee.
He suggests that statements can prove valuable by revealing spending habits, tracking debit orders and updating important notices.
“None of us have the energy to read reams of communication but by just openingyour bank statements every month you could be gathering helpful tips and pieces of information such as interest rate changes, pricing changes, the latest card scams to be wary of and the precautions you can take to avoid them.Remember that your bank will assume that all transactions on the statement are in order if they don’t hear from you within a certain period of time.
Do your part and spend some time scrutinizing your bank statements when you receive them – the benefits far outweigh the few minutes it will take to do so,” said Coetzee.