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Financial Fitness: The Truth About E-Statements

With the advent of the internet age has come many, many changes in our day to day lives. It seems as though just a few short years ago, shopping was something you did in person at any number of local, regional or national stores - or via mail-order catalogs. The only Amazon you knew was a very big river in South America. If you needed to get from point A to point B and you didn’t know the way, you bought a map from your local gas station and mapped out what seemed to be the best route. Using a highlighter and a calculator and the scale of miles located in the map key, you could usually get reasonably close to an accurate time and mileage estimate for your trip! And reasonably accurate was close enough. The word "google” had meaning to a small group of mathematicians but to the rest of us, it sounded more like a made-up word or the secret language of infants. And if you had a question about your bank account, you could either wait for your monthly statement to arrive via the US Postal Service, or you could call or visit your local branch during banking hours to resolve your issue. Obviously things have changed a bit and there aren’t many tasks that can’t be accomplished from the comfort of your own home or car – or anywhere you happen to be - with the aid of your personal computer or SmartPhone.
Banking is just one of those things that have become progressively more convenient during the electronic age. ATM machines began the transition, making your cash available to you any time of the day or night in numerous convenient locations. By the early 80’s we were all quite used to the flexibility they offered. Debit cards, which could be used at retail locations, provided even more flexibility and convenience. Next came online banking as financial institutions worldwide adapted strict security technology to provide your financial information to you conveniently while taking care to protect that sensitive and personal information from those with malicious intent.
With just about any national, regional or local bank, online banking is now a core service. Not only is it possible to access information about your accounts via the internet, but it is also possible to pay bills online, transfer money, check on account questions or transactions instantly, and find a wealth of information about your bank’s products and services. With this technology comes another opportunity for banks to offer convenience to their customers while saving costs – e-statements. An alternative to paper statements mailed out to customers each month, e-statements provide the same information as their paper counterparts, but they are available online much more quickly than waiting for the postal delivery. Customers can access their e-statements any time online and download the files to their local computer for safe-keeping. Most banks retain e-statements and keep them available to customers for several months via their online banking account access. And of course – e-statements save a lot of trees! With this convenience also comes a bit of responsibility for you, the customer. If keeping your statements on your local computer, be sure to have a good back-up system in place. Keep in mind that ultimately it is your responsibility to maintain your financial records. With that in mind, make sure to familiarize yourself with your bank’s policy on e-statements. How long are statementsavailable to you online? If you need information about a transaction on a statement that is no longer available to you, what avenues does your bank offer to provide you with that information? What costs are involved? Be informed, and enjoy the flexibility and ease that online banking and e-statements offer.
Once you have a plan for accessing and maintaining your financial records using the convenience of online banking and e-statements, you can shift your focus to other pursuits. Go online shopping for outdoor gear suitable for your next trip to the Amazon (River). Map out that exciting trip on Google.com/maps or check out a preview of what you might encounter via Google Earth. Then check your bank balance online and see if your trip can become a reality before booking your travel arrangements online. Bon Voyage!
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