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My wife was out shopping over the weekend and sent a rather alarming text message: Her debit card purchase had been declined.

This instantly sent a terror down my spine as I pictured our bank account having been drawn down to zero with someone else living the good life.

Luckily, I was able to use my Blackberry to log in to our bank's mobile site.  It told me that our balance was right along the lines of what it should be (having looked yesterday), and I was able to look at the most recent transactions and see only one had appeared since I looked yesterday, which was for buying a pizza the night before.

In other words, absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary.

I was able to tell this because I knew what was ordinary by having kept track of both the balance and the recent transactions.  Had I not, I might not have known what the balance ought to be, and I also wouldn't have known that recent transactions were all accounted for, as I would have had to go days back to make sure there were no fraudulent charges.

By keeping a close and frequent eye on our bank account, I was able to quickly and easily determine that nobody had gotten into our bank account.  I'd recommend checking your bank and credit card transactions at least three times a week to keep on top of it, so that if anything like this ever happens, you'll be able to rapidly determine whether or not you have an actual problem.

Thankfully, we didn't.

(As a follow-up, my wife tried the card at the next store she went to and it worked just fine.  With the store that declined it, she was able to use a backup card (credit card), so everything worked out)