The Shoebox May Be Gone, but the Inbox is Overflowing

The $100 Pizza, is an urban legend that’s been floating around the credit union industry for many years. The intent behind the story is to illustrate how the simple habit of ignoring your account statement can lead to a road of miserable fees and other personal finance horrors. But, unlike other legends that generate irrational fears, this one could really happen.

The catalyst for the demise of the Pizza story’s protagonist is a drawer, or shoebox, of unopened account statements.  The character first ignores the statements out of laziness, which in some versions of the story eventually turns to fear, and ignorance, which in all versions leads to big money trouble.

The truth behind the story is that for many years the #1 financial mistake has been ignoring account statements. Notice the past tense of that last sentence. This is no longer true, but like many other things in life, the problem hasn’t been cured, it’s just been replaced with technology.

The new #1 problem is ignoring online banking.

Account statements may still hold their place in value, but because they are generated only once per month they aren’t as vital as they once were. Still, if you wait until a generated statement is available to review your account it could be too late to avoid the $100 pizza.

This isn’t a plea to get you to sign up for online banking, nor is it a statement against online banking. In my opinion, online banking is the best thing since the invention of shoes. But like we forget that shoes are more than just stylish possessions, online banking is much more than accessing your account when the branch is closed.

To avoid the $100 pizza use online banking to its full potential. Make it a weekly habit to review your account: check your balance, ensure that your bills were paid, view cleared checks, scan for unauthorized transactions, and monitor your budget.

Online banking helps you focus on managing your money rather than vice versa. It’s also been proven that people who regularly monitor their account online avoid unnecessary fees and catch potential identity theft better than those who let their online banking account sit unattended in virtual drawer.

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