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March Madness - Does your bracket score mirror your finances?

So here we are in the middle of March Madness. What could that possibly have to do with money? Is this an article about sports betting? No, it’s not.

Each year my family does a bracket competition. Back before platforms offered sophisticated bracket tracking, it was easy to focus on how many games you’d won and believe you were in great position. Now the platforms have become more sophisticated; they provide your ranking within your pool by both current points and ability to earn additional points. You may have two competitors who each won 26 out of the first-round 32 games, and 12 out of 16 of the second-round games, but they are not on even footing as the rounds progress.

Why not? Well, this year if one of those individuals selected Arizona and Purdue to make it to the Final Four, their ability to earn additional points is curtailed. That’s what the new scoring models display. They provide you with the ability to see not only your current score, but what the future may hold.

So, what does that have to do with money?

Thanks for asking! Many individuals have stopped tracking their bank balance using a simple process individuals used for decades, namely a checkbook register. Well, if I don’t write checks, why would I use a checkbook register? In the same way the NCAA bracket tools tell you where you are headed with your March Madness score, a checkbook register can tell you where your cash balance is headed.

Many people have adopted an approach of opening their bank app to see how much money they have. This myopic approach tells someone how much they have now, but nothing about what will happen tomorrow. Correct, but how can I see into the future?

By keeping a check register with your known expenses, you can see both your current position and what is right around the corner. For example, do you know when your rent or mortgage payment will be paid? Yes…well right it down in the register. Do you know when your credit card payment will be made? Write it down along with the date it will be drafted from your account. Do the same for your utility payments, etc. By doing this, you can see both what you have in the bank right now on the app, but you also know what payments will be changing your financial life in the very near future.

How is that beneficial? Well, you can eliminate overdraft fees, improve your credit rating, avoid financial stress, etc. I know that it is easy to just open your bank app, but it does not tell you much about your financial situation. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, the simple practice of keeping a checking account register can improve your financial prowess.

As for your NCAA picks, be sure to pay attention to both your current score and the total points possible for you in the tournament. That way you won’t have to eat your words if a win is out of reach this year!

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