Money. Save it. Spend it. Understand it.
It's your money, manage it
It's all about staying in control
Running your bank account properly isn’t that hard, and keeping track of it helps you avoid going overdrawn and having to pay bank charges. If you’ve got money going in regularly, and you’re spending that money you should keep your own records and check them against what the bank says.
Keep a record of everything
Keeping records means getting yourself organised, but once you get into the habit it will get easier, and it means you have the paperwork you’ll need if something goes wrong.
You could just keep your receipts and paying-in slips but it’ll be easier to write a list in a notebook or use an app or computer programme to keep tabs on everything. Registering for online banking and signing in regularly to check your account is also a good idea.
Know what you and others have paid into your account
This could include:
- Automatic payments, like your salary, student loan or allowance
- Cash and cheques paid in over the counter at the bank
- One off credits from someone who owes you money
- Interest you've earned on your money
Know what you've paid and others have taken out
This could include:
- Automatic payments, such as direct debits and standing orders
- Withdrawals from cash machines
- Debit card transactions in shops and online
- Bill payments you've made online
- Cheques you've written
If you stay on top of how much is in your account, you're more likely to stay in the black
You'll usually get a monthly statement from your bank, either through the post or online. This will show the balance of your account on the day it was produced; all the payments in and out of your account; interest that's been paid or charged; and any bank fees.
Check the statement against your own records and if you think something is wrong tell the bank straight away. Tick off the transactions and work out if there are still payments or credits to go through. This will help you see what you have left to spend.
Or you could get a mini-statement from the cash machine at any time, but remember that the balance may not include anything you've spent in the last few days.
And remember, once you've checked everything shred any documents you don't need to keep - this helps protect you against identity fraud.
If something goes wrong, tell the bank
If you have a problem with your account, or a complaint, talk to the bank about it. Most things can be resolved quickly on the phone, or in the branch. It always helps if you have evidence to support your complaint such as receipts and letters, and the bank may ask you for copies to help them investigate.
If things can't be sorted out easily, all banks have a formal process to deal with customer problems and complaints. Check with them to find out what you need to do next.
If the bank has investigated and you're still not satisfied, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to look at your complaint.
If you keep track of what you're earning and spending, you can avoid going overdrawn.