Online banking is something that has only really come into it’s own in the last few years. There’s still a generation of people though who do all of their banking in branch and (like my Mum) refuse to carry out any banking admin online. I appreciate that branches are important for so many reasons and it’s really sad that we’re losing so many from the high street, we’ve recently heard we’ll be losing yet another one from my home town and it’s such a shame! However, I really value online banking and it plays a vital role in how I manage our finances.
For me, the biggest benefit of online banking is that I know exactly how much money is sitting there in my account. We have joint bank accounts, one for bills and one for everything else (food, clothing, kids activities….everything!). At the beginning of the month, once the wages have arrived in the bills account, we transfer the rest of the money over into the “spends” account. There are a couple of bills that I pay manually online – council tax and water. I like to submit a water meter reading each month and pay exactly what we owe so that we always know we’re on top of it, council tax is purely because I’ve never got round to setting up the direct debit! Once those two bills are paid, the rest come out via direct debit throughout the month. I have a list of all direct debits in the notes section of my phone and I tick these off as they come out of the account. I check the billing account daily to make sure there aren’t any unexpected payments being taken and to make sure there aren’t any missed payments too!
Our wages can be a little different each month, they don’t vary a massive amount but some months my husband gets a little bit of bonus and as I get paid hourly, mine fluctuates a little depending on the length of the month too. At the beginning of the month, I work out our weekly budget after all the bills are accounted for. I take into account Christmas savings and emergency fund savings and then the rest is ours to spend on food, clothes, activities etc. I keep a note of our spending as we go, at the top of my “bills” list in my phone notes, I have a little note of how much we have left of the week’s budget and I knock this down as we spend any money. This does mean I have to rely on my husband to tell me when he’s put petrol in the car or bought a sandwich (on the rare occasion he doesn’t take one with him). This is why I love the “pending transactions” section on our banking app.
When the other half forgets to tell me he’s used his debit card, or I’ve been in a few shops one after the other, the “pending transactions” section on our online bank is fab! We don’t have this facility with our bills account bank, but the spends account is with Lloyds and the pending section shows up on their banking app. It’s a great way to make sure I haven’t forgotten about any transactions. Sometimes, however, the pending transactions are a little bit flawed. If I’ve done the food shopping online, the pending amount will only show as £1 and the total available balance will only be reduced by £1. This is one example of why it’s so important to keep track separately. If I didn’t account for a £50 food shop, that’s a massive deficit in our budget.
Online banking and particularly banking apps make it so easy to top up your savings. I put a set amount into our Christmas fund every week and then once all the weekly expenses have been covered, I transfer any leftover cash to our emergency savings or our ongoing savings fund if we’re saving for something in particular. I love watching the amounts go up and the ease of doing it means I’m much more likely to actually save. Anything that involves much of an effort for me is less likely to actually get done!
We have linked bank accounts for our children. The older two have accounts that they can put their own money in and they’re pretty good at keeping track of exactly how much is in there. Often, their grandparents will give them a couple of pounds when they visit and they’ll usually give it straight to me and ask me to put it in their account. Sometimes we’ll actually go into the branch to do this, but often if it’s just say £2, I’ll keep the cash and transfer the money from our account into theirs.
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