|I signed up to receive text alerts each time I use my card for any purchase more than $5 and ANY gas station purchases regardless of the amount.
That might seem excessively low to some of you, but there is a reason behind it… I did it for security.
When someone steals your card or number, the first thing he or she usually does is test it out. They make small purchases just to see if it works. Small purchases don’t raise eyebrows. And gas stations are the perfect place to test it out since you can buy at a point of sale with no human interaction.
However, even with the best of intentions, this story has a sour ending. I have not had my card or identity stolen. But I have suffered another blow… This one is to my financial ego.
Now, after I use my card or see an automatic monthly purchase like Netflix or season tickets, I see a message pop up.
Not a day goes by without something being charged somewhere, and I am now seeing the full scope of my spending in one place. I see little things here and there that I know are frivolous. I also see expenditures at pharmacies, the doctor’s office, the mechanic, the restaurants I frequent, the grocery store and of course the monthly charges that make me feel guilty for not fully using the services I am paying for.
It shows me two things. First, I spend more frivolously than I imagined. And second, it shows me that I better get my finances in order. Some recurring necessary purchases are not going away and may increase as I get older.
The added bonus of being able to track your purchases electronically may well be the best thing that ever happened to me when it comes to spending.
By exclusively using a credit card for every purchase I make, I can now see the full picture in one place. While it’s not pretty, it’s the wake-up call I needed to address my finances. (Don’t get me wrong… I am not as bad as I am making it sound. Financial responsibility is my hallmark. But it’s bad for me.)
Pick up your phone now and download your credit card company’s app if you don’t already have it on there. Log in, go to your security preferences and start entering your different alert stages.
It will change how you spend, and I guarantee that you will spend less frivolously going forward. It will finally make that cellphone worth that automatic monthly charge!