If you want to win with money you have to stop constantly worrying about a certain number.  It can’t be your guide, your master, your spending plan any more.  What is that number?

Your checking account balance.

You have to move beyond living your life, just hoping that there’s enough money in the checking account to cover what you need to buy.  Spending based on your checking account balance is a sign that you’re not planning to win with your money.  It’s a sign that you’re letting your circumstances and spending habits dictate what you do with money.

Obviously you have to keep up to date with your checking account activity for various reasons: bill timing, identity theft, errors by the bank or merchants, and other things.

But letting your spending habits be driven by your account balance is like spinning the roulette wheel and hoping for the best.  As you type in your password to sign into your bank (or pull up your app and see the loading screen), you’re thinking, “Big money, big money, big money!”

As you mature in your management of money, you need to move beyond living by your checking account balance to living on a plan.  When you’re living on a plan, you don’t have to worry about if there’s money to pay that utility bill or put fuel in the car.  You don’t have to worry if you’re spending your insurance money on clothing, or spending your rent money on eating out, because you have a plan.

It’s simple math.  If I bring in $3500 each month in income, and I have a plan to spend/save/give that $3500 (and only that $3500), there is enough money if I just follow the plan.  You might not be able to do everything all at one time if you’re paid twice a month, but there is enough money.  You just have to follow the plan, instead spending based on your account balance.

So you move from, “Do I have enough money in checking to cover this?” 

to,

“Is this expense in the budget?”

When you ask the latter question, you know you’re not spending rent money on restaurants, or gas money on clothing.  You can rest assured you’ve got it covered.