How Checking Your Bank Account Is Therapeutic
There is a surprising amount of healing and relief when looking at your bank account, even if the numbers are low.
Last week I checked my bank account, curiosity filling my brain and a mixture of excitement and dread.
It’s a familiar sensation that so many of us experience when we think about that one key question:
“How much money do we have in there?”
It’s a question that for many of us can instill dread to the point that we never check our bank statements or go online to check our balances.
But I’d argue that it’s worth checking it out. Even in situations where you don’t have a lot of money.
After all, there is quite a strong connection between our moods and our bank account. A study in 2016 that was posted in the scientific journal Emotions discovered that we equate success more to not how much money we will make (i.e. salary) but rather what’s in our account right now. Of course, there are some other ways to measure success, but in terms of our money, there is a stronger connection to what we have rather than what we can make.
To further emphasize this, the study also discovered that people were more focused on their cash than anything else, having placed more importance on that than debt or income itself.
In the end, we have such an emotional tie to our balance that we typically check our balance for specific reasons. My theory is that we check to see how much of a cash cushion we actually have.
I can back that up with that same study as Peter Ruberton, the prime author of the study explained one other aspect of the study:
“That first $1,000 is more important than the next $9,000. The hedonic benefits to your happiness will be experienced once you save enough to feel comfortable with your finances, but saving above that point buys you relatively little in terms of wellbeing.”
But I’d still argue that there is still some merit when you climb past the $1,000 marker. And a lot of it I feel boils down to background and experiences.
You see, when I checked my bank account last week I noticed I was resting on $2,000. It’s knocked down a bit since then as I splurged a little bit on Monday, but the amount is still significant to me.
Up to this point, I haven’t had the most stable balances. With student loans skyrocketing my income only for it to plummet after rent, food, and tuition fees. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to me as a student to be hovering around little money to maybe above $1,000 or so.
It’s hard to tell as I didn’t check my bank account as frequently as I have been today.
Regardless, a lot of us feel accustomed to having such little amount of money. We don’t bother to check our balances and that in turn can influence our own spending habits. By checking our balance we may be able to break out of that reality.
I went on that little spending splurge and supported my cousin because I knew with confidence, spotting him a bit of cash is within my power. I didn’t feel tight on cash at all and a lot of those judgement calls came from the fact I checked my balance.
I also feel that checking our balance shapes our own money mindset. To expand on the last point, we spend our money based on our thoughts and views of money. If we can’t back up our claims about our own financial position, we can say whatever we like.
This can be the basis for us getting into massive debt or running into money issues. The fact we don’t check our balances enough can suggest that there is an emotional disconnection between our own well being and financial position. That’s why after a huge spending spree, we may feel remorse, especially if we remind ourselves that we don’t have much money or can’t afford certain things.
Checking our balance again can break that reality and add some clarity to the whole situation. If we have a lot of money, then we can relax and breath a little easier. And if we don’t, then we can show ourselves restraint and develop ourselves.
I know from my own experiences, I haven’t been spending much money. In fact, I try to avoid spending any money at this point. The splurge I made on Monday came up to about $160 and that’s been the most money I’ve spent this whole year so far in one day.
But I don’t feel bad for that as I know I’ve been restricting myself and being mindful of where and when I’m spending my money.
And a lot of those judgement calls fall back to checking my balance and looking at my financial growth.
I believe there is merit behind checking your balance, even if it’s not something that’ll bring you happiness right now. I see this as therapeutic as it gives us a reality check of where exactly we are at in terms of our financial health.
And our financial health is deeply connected to our own sanity and happiness.
So go and check your balance. You may surprise yourself just how mindful you’ve been with your money. Or maybe now is a good time to look at your financial decisions and figure out the best way forward.