Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stay Alert In Your Finances

Photo by martymadrid
Automation Rules

In previous posts, I have mentioned when I went through a period of time a few years ago where I purposely automated the majority of my personal finances. So, either through auto draft, e-check, ACH, debit card or bank bill pay, I went through the process of setting up all my utility bills (such as phone, gas, electric, cable, trash), rent, and even charitable giving to be automatically deducted from my checking account.

I ended up automating everything as a result of reading Ramit Sethi's book "I Will Teach You To Be Rich." In his book, Ramit gives some great advice on the practical wisdom of why it is important to automate your finances in order to reach your financial goals. He also walks you through a step-by-step process to get the entire system set-up. I highly recommend his book as an excellent starting point for some great "life hacks" in your personal finances.

So far, this system has worked extremely well for me in my own finances. The one challenge to the system, though, can be that everything is working so well on "autopilot" that you stop being vigilant on keeping track of your account activity. Plus, if you have more than one person using the account, such as a spouse, then you can run into additional challenges if you're not paying attention.

Babe, Do You Know What This Charge Is?

If you have been a somewhat faithful reader of my blog, you are probably aware that I went through a terrible divorce a couple of years ago (see My Story, Part 1 and Part 2) Then, God brought someone very special into my life, and we were married a couple of months ago. Now, we're in the process of "becoming one" in our finances, and both of us are getting accustomed to working through the issues of joint finances once again.

I mention all of that to say that when I was separated and divorced, it was a lot easier for me to do my personal finances. I was the only person I needed to keep track of. Now that I'm remarried and doing joint finances with my spouse, we need to keep track of what each of us is doing. We have become necessary accountability partners in our finances. I'm not complaining either; it's just an important, necessary part of the process.

A couple of weeks ago, I was going through our checking account activity online, and I noticed there was one debit card charge that didn't look quite right to me. I asked my new bride about it, and she told me that she didn't make the charge. Then, I did a Google search on the info contained in this debit charge - bingo! It appeared to be a fraudulent charge that other people have reported in the past. I contacted my bank and found out that someone had actually swiped my debit card number somehow via the Internet.

Vigilance In An Electronic World

The world of finance, investing, banking and so on has so radically changed over the last ten plus years due to the rise of the Internet and sheer computer processing power. You almost hardly even need to visit a physical bank anymore. With all the conveniences that debit cards, electronic payments, and online accounts bring us, there is now more opportunity for fraud and identity theft than ever before.

In fact, when I went into my bank to fill out paperwork on my fraudulent activity and to get a new debit card, the bank representative mentioned to me that she has a fraudulent file that is growing at an alarming rate. It's becoming a scary, electronic, inter-connected world out there with a lot of smart people who want to make a quick buck at your expense. We all need to be careful with our electronic information, and we need to be increasingly vigilant in the monitoring of our accounts for fraud.

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