As I’ve written before, I spend less than 1 hour per week on my finances. One of the ways I do it is by chunking my tasks, like keeping an eye on my credit-card bill. Here’s how I do it.
I pay with my credit card as much as possible. This lets me automatically download my transactions and categorize my spending. Plus, I get travel points and extra consumer protection (like a free additional warranty for any electronic device — all credit cards offer this).
But I do like to keep an eye on my credit-card charges whenever there’s a human involved. So I keep my receipts whenever I go to restaurants and store them in a folder on my desk.
Every Sunday night, I open the folder and spent about 5 minutes comparing my receipts to what my credit card’s website says. I just do a “ctrl-f” for the amount (“$43.35”) and confirm that it’s correct. For example, if I wrote down $43.35 as the full amount, but instead saw that the restaurant had charged me $50, someone’s trying to make a quick buck off me. And in that case, you need to ask yourself one question:
What Would An Indian Do?
A quick call to my credit card company will resolve this.
The most important thing is keeping your receipt folder on your desk. If you have to get up to get it — even a few steps away — that’s a huge barrier to getting this done consistently.[Update]: This is also good if you frequently find bar receipts from the night before that you don’t remember [Update 2]: Some great comments on this post. One of my favorites: “I also turned this into my paperless rule–unless I would absolutely need the receipt to prove my purchase I deny/throw it away. I don’t need a credit card receipt AND a transaction receipt from McDonalds’ drive through. Immediate recycle.”