In the past, people would simply carry a pocket-sized ledger along with their check book and use it to record all the money that they spent. Tracking spending this way is more difficult now that people rely on debit cards instead of check. Luckily, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from spending more money than you have in your checking account.

Find a way that works for you, and then use it to avoid overdrafts.

Do not get overdraft protection

Overdraft protection means that the bank will still pay your bills and allow you to use your debit card even if your account is empty. However, banks usually charge you a penalty every time you have a negative balance. These penalties can add up quickly, so the best policy is to forego this coverage and instead focus on tracking your balance.

Set up mobile alerts

Most major banks provide balance alerts. This means that you can get an alert as soon as your balance drops below a certain amount. This alert message can be sent via email or as a text message. You should choose the option that you will see right away. Then, you can either stop spending, deposit a new check or transfer money from another account to keep your balance above zero.

Link another account

If you have a savings account at the same bank, you can link your two accounts so that money is automatically transferred to your primary account when the balance gets too low. This is a good alternative to overdraft protection because you will not be hit with fees for making this kind of automatic transfer. Just be certain that you have enough money in your savings account to cover any potential overcharges.

Use cash or a prepaid card

If overdrafts are an ongoing issue for you, you could consider switching to cash until you can develop good spending habits. If this is not something you want to do, then a prepaid debit card could work. Most prepaid debit cards simply stop working when your account is empty. This will protect you from spending too much without exposing you to overdraft fees.

What if I need to spend more than I have?

Sooner or later, everyone is confronted with unexpected expenses. How can you deal with these costs without over drafting? One option is to get an online personal loan. The application process for these loans only takes a couple of hours, so even if you need money quickly, this is a viable option. Online money suppliers do not require a complete credit check, so you simply have to supply a bank statement and proof of income. These lenders typically grant loans for $700 or less, so they are ideal for basic unexpected expenses.