"Practice what you preach," they said. When it came to my monthly statements, I did just the opposite.

It’s one of the top pieces of financial advice anyone gives you. Check your monthly statements. And me, in all my financial wherewithal, didn’t check the bills. And not just didn’t check for one month, didn’t check for four months. That’s right. FOUR WHOLE MONTHS.  

It doesn’t seem like too long of a time to not check your statements, unless when you finally do, as I just did yesterday, you realize you’ve had a recurring membership that you thought you canceled back in February adding $179 in charges each month to your bill.

How charges can add up when you don’t check your monthly statements 

In four months, that’s been $716 in charges, that I am JUST now noticing. Obviously, I immediately called the place and left a message. And in the meantime, I made sure to put in a dispute with my credit card for each of the four charges.  

From there I looked at all my other credit cards and bank statements to make sure nothing else was fishy on those accounts. Everything looked good, other than that $716. 

The biggest issue really was that I had grown complacent. I was used to getting the bill every month, and just paying it. Looking at the overall number and saying, yep, that seems about right. And it happens to the best of us. Life gets busy, it’s easier just to pay the balance, or even to set up auto pay and forget it.  

But sometimes when things are easy, other things can fall through the cracks. Setting up auto pay on all your bills means you probably aren’t looking too closely at those bills. You aren’t seeing what you’re charging, or what you are being charged for. You aren’t seeing how much water you’re using or how much electricity you’ve spent when you left the TV and AC on while you were out of town last week.  

An electronic statement is great, but you still need to read it

We as a society have gotten used to the ease of computers and all the benefits they bring, but, as is my case, they can also bring you to turn a blind eye to things you should be paying more attention to. So, what can we do about it?  

We can’t be too hard on ourselves, as we all tend to relax a bit when things are being taken care of and it seems something is taken off our plate. But it’s important to not let things like bills fall by the wayside.  

When you get your monthly statement, be it by snail mail or via email, open it up and look at it. Just skim through all your purchases and payments to make sure they all look accurate. If anything stands out, check on it.  

Same goes for utility bills. Look through phone bills, electric bills and more to see if there are any blips or changes that don’t seem quite right. This happened to my mother-in-law once and turned out she had a huge water leak underground that she didn’t know about! We were able to call up the water company when she got the bill, who came out and examined the property to find the problem.  

Thankfully, the business that was charging me is amazing and the people there were more than happy to refund the charges to me. Some companies, however, may have a time limit on refunds, so it’s also something to be aware of if you aren’t regularly checking your statements. There is no time limit to report or dispute these kinds of charges to your credit card company, you can be held liable for $50 once the dispute is resolved.  

Takeaway tips:  

  • Check your credit card statements each month for unexpected charges.
  • Check your utility bills each month for new charges or unexpected fees.
  • If you find anything, call the company to request a refund. If that doesn’t work, dispute the charges with your credit card company.  
  • In the case that you find any strange charges on your utility bills, it’s also worth a call to find out what they are for. 
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and/or policies of Debt.com.

Meet the Author

Jessica Patel

Jessica Patel


Jessica Patel is an award-winning editor and writer living in Los Angeles. She previously served as deputy editorial director of T Brand Studio at The New York Times and as Senior Editor and Analyst of Bankrate.com.

Budgeting & Saving, News

credit cards, Very Personal Finance

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Article last modified on September 5, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Burned by Not Taking my Own Advice - AMP.