How often should you check your finances?

Emma Chamberlain is a famous Youtuber and social media personality who has over 12 million Youtube subscribers and nearly 16 million Instagram followers. She’s parlayed that into a coffee company, Chamberlain Coffee.

A few weeks ago, she went on Colin and Samir, a fantastic Youtube show about creators, and she shared something you might find wild – she hasn’t looked at her bank account in years.

I invite you to listen to the part of the interview where she discusses it:

It’s important to note that while she doesn’t look at it herself, she has an infrastructure in place. It’s not that she’s willfully ignoring her finances, she has hired people to do it for her. That said, it’s still (and she admits this) insane that she lives this way.

As an aside, it’s fascinating that she set this up so that the numbers won’t impact or influence her negatively.

But this begs a broader question – how often should you be looking at your finances?

Table of Contents
  1. How often should you be checking?
  2. Automation can handle most of the work
  3. You can outsource a lot of work
  4. We review it monthly
  5. You must do what’s right for you

How often should you be checking?

How often should you be checking your bank account? Emma Chamberlain says she never looks at it.

At first glance, that sounds crazy. How would you not know where your money is? Or how much you have?

That’s when I realized that I don’t check my bank account all that often either.

When you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot, you’re working at the margins when a new charge may cause you to overdraft. Or the charge will get rejected.

As you save and invest and grow your net worth, checking your accounts become less and less important because you’re no longer operating at the margins. You’re not one charge away from causing a cascade of fees that could put you deeper into the hole.

And while we’re not business owners with millions of followers on multiple platforms, we should be moving towards a financial situation where you don’t need to check it too often.

Automation can handle most of the work

We use as much automation as possible to remove all bottlenecks to our finances. Emma has hired people who, in all likelihood, use many of these systems as well.

Do you check your credit card statements each month? I bet that’s a lot of fun, right? Is that something you want to remove from your monthly to-dos? You can – just get transaction notifications from every credit card. This can catch fraud as early as possible and completely removes the need to check your credit card statements. You also get the charge close to when you make it, so you won’t have to try to remember what is what.

Do you manually make contributions into your brokerage account? Stop! In most cases, you can make them automatic contributions and save yourself the time. This also forces you to put systems in place so that you have enough cash to transfer each month.

Finally, want to avoid overdraft fees? Get a checking account with free overdraft protection (you may need to switch banks if yours doesn’t offer it). With the 6 ACH limit removed due to Covid, there’s no longer any reason not to be on our main checking account. Just make sure your savings account (or whatever the funding source is) has enough cash.

Finally, there’s never a reason to manually pay bills. Just set up automatic bill pay and you never have to do that either. With overdraft protection, there’s no fear you’re overdraw.

What else is left? Chances are probably nothing or very little.

You can outsource a lot of work

I’ve outsourced a lot of work to automation.

This whole concept of outsourcing tasks that require no specialized expertise shouldn’t be new to you. I was recently chatting with a friend of mine and he mentioned that they’ve hired a local high schooler to come do some odd jobs around the house each week. It’s only a few hours but this person helps with relatively easy but time consuming tasks like changing sheets, bringing Amazon returns back to a UPS store, and stuff like that.

I bet you or someone you know hires cleaners to help clean the house. You’ll know if your friends do this because they’ll often complain about how they have to pick up before the cleaners come. 😂

Our most valuable resource is time and when you can outsource some work, it’s often a good idea if you can swing the cost.

The same is true for work that feels necessary but might not be – like checking your bank account. If you’re checking because you’re worried you don’t have enough, you can always set up alerts so you’re notified if your account drops below a certain amount. Then you can save the time you’d otherwise use to check, even if it’s just a few seconds.

We review it monthly

Personally, we review our finances monthly.

The main task is that I track our net worth in a spreadsheet. I will collect all of our numbers and enter it in the spreadsheet. I have systems in place to ensure we won’t run into any problems during the month.

I only do it monthly because that’s what I did when I started it 20+ years ago. I just like seeing that data. But I recognize it’s also completely unnecessary now. It’s purely an indulgence now.

I also “outsource” a lot of the pulling of data to Empower Personal Dashboard because it can link to basically all the accounts, so it’s a pretty fast process.

Realistically, we could review it quarterly or less and still be in the same spot financially. Whereas Emma has people and a framework to help her make decisions without knowing the numbers, we have systems and tools to perform similar functions.

When you first hear that she doesn’t know, it does sound a little crazy. But if you dig into it, it’s not that wild at all.

Here are the 5 critical numbers you should be checking.

You must do what’s right for you

We all come at money with different upbringing. My relationship to money is different than yours and it’s different than a Youtuber with millions of followers.

Much like all advice on the internet, you should integrate what you want and abandon the rest. If you feel a compelling need to check all the time, try to dig into why that’s the case. Financial insecurity is rarely about the money but it’s a totally valid feeling that takes work. You can have millions in the bank and still feel insecure, I know plenty of people who are that way.

So don’t read this post and assume that checking daily or weekly is bad and that checking monthly, quarterly, or NOT AT ALL is good.

Do what’s right for you but know that your time is a precious commodity.

Also, feel free to ditch financial practices that no longer work for you.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Alison D Gilbert says

    I confess that for the most part I do check my finances daily. I live on a very tight budget so this seems to be a necessity for me. Ironically, I suspect that people with much more financial freedom check their finances less often.

    I do not enjoy this task but somehow it grounds me and without it I think I would feel lost. Knowing how much money I have and how much I can spend are daily anchors for me. Also, I still prefer to pay most of my bills (manually but digitally) but not by autopay.

    But I do wish I did not ever have to think about my own finances, like (former) Queen Elizabeth. I don’t know why she carried a pocket book everywhere she went because I don’t think she carried money in any form. Maybe it was for her handkerchief, comb, mirror, and face powder like my grandmother did.

    Now of course everyone carries their cellphone. In fact, what people carry revolves around the cellphone since it is the primary piece of what goes everywhere with you.

    I know I have digressed a bit. But it would be interesting to research or read about the history of what people, men included, have carried in their ‘purses’ over the last century or so. I might do some research on it myself.

    • Jim Wang says

      I checked far more often when my budget was tighter, it was a necessity. Now that I have more buffer, you are right, it’s less of a requirement.

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