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  #1  
Old 03-24-2011, 01:20 PM
Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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Do you use a Check Register or keep track of your bank account?

I was shocked by the thread where people were talking about keeping track of their bank accounts and using check registers, etc.

I'm thinking, "what?"

Maybe it is just lifestyle. I pay all my purchases through credit card, and I pay off my credit card. I have like 5 transactions in my bank account a month, and I can sign in any time to see what they are or how much they were. Why would I need to seperately write all of this down?

Why would I need to keep a check register?
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  #2  
Old 03-24-2011, 01:34 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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I don't keep one, but I haven't even before online banking.

I've gotten myself into trouble a few times because of it.
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2011, 01:38 PM
CT_Damsel CT_Damsel is offline
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Possibly my favorite feature of online banking . . . no more paper. Some where in the house I have a few black check registers if anyone is feeling nostalgic.
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  #4  
Old 03-24-2011, 01:40 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
Why would I need to keep a check register?
Some people keep a pretty low balance in their checking account, and it's helpful to be aware of checks you've written that haven't hit your account yet.

Although rare, it may also help you identify mistakes the bank has made against your account.

I don't write many paper checks, maybe one or two a month (most of my payments are electronic). I don't use a paper check register, but I do use a spreadsheet so I can forecast my account balances through the next calendar year (paycheck deposits, mortgage, utility bills, etc.).
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:44 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Personal preference. For me using a credit card for everything and paying it off every month sounds like a great idea in theory. But I'd have trouble keeping track and not overspending. Keeping cash and credit separate keeps me in line. I can look in my check register (I mainly use my debit card and autopay, but I use the register to track) and see that I have $XXX available until the next time I get paid. Can't look at my credit card statement to see that. My personal register also serves as a cross-check against the online bank records, and vice versa. I don't want to have to rely on the Internet to be able to find out how much money I have. It's all written down right here.

Also, even though high-tech options are available, not all of us live in a utopian Jetsonland. We still have a landline phone with answering machine, satellite Internet with backup dialup account (no DSL/cable available here), write checks, and drive internal combustion engine cars. No HDTV (don't care enough to get one), no gaming system, no streaming movies, no DVD player in the car, no GPS (egad, we use MAPS!). We do have cell phones, and mine is a smartphone, but we are not tethered to them 24/7 and I use very little of my phone's capabilities. We have no central air conditioning, no dishwasher, no garage.

And yet somehow life goes on and we manage to survive without having the latest and greatest of everything.
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:01 PM
Covered_In_Bees! Covered_In_Bees! is offline
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I use a makeshift register made from a Google Documents spreadsheet to keep track of my debit card uses. Just seems like the intelligent and responsible thing to do, keep track of my money.
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  #7  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:03 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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I don't keep track. I check on line every few days to see my balance and make sure no unusual debits. In the "old days" I kept a pretty good check register.
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  #8  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:09 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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I do keep a check register, despite using Quicken to balance my account on my computer. Call me paranoid, but I like to keep a non-electronic backup in case my computer crashes, and if my account doesn't balance, I can compare the electronic and paper registers to each other to see where I made the mistake (and the mistake is usually mine, like accepting duplicate transactions when I download my account balance).
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:16 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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I write all my checks and deposits down in my check register, just so I have a quick reference. But I don't use it for balancing my checking account. Actually, I don't balance my account at all. I only write two checks a month: one for my rent and one at the comic book store. I do everything else with my debit card (comic store is very small and it's not financially feasible for the owner to handle plastic). So I just use my online banking to keep track of my balance, and I never have any trouble.
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:21 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Do you keep any sort of track of your credit card purchases then?

Check register (however you do it; we don't maintain a paper register but we do use Quicken, religiously) can not only show you what's in the account - but outstanding payments. If you think you spent 50.00 but your account is hit for 150.00, how do you know there's an error?

If you forget that you've got the power bill being debited on the 15th, the register can serve as a reminder of that.

It can help with budgeting (how much did I really spend on hookers and blow last month and how much should I have available for next month?).

We too run most of our stuff through a credit card - but the Quicken register lets us see where that money is going.
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  #11  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:23 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is online now
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No. I haven't written a cheque in... God, 15 years perhaps?
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  #12  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:28 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is offline
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I keep track of all my checks using a spreadsheet: check number, payee, date, amount, if it has cleared, deposits or other transactions, and balance.

It's helpful if I need to go back and determine thing like how much I pay in utility bills for last year, or how much I paid in property taxes, medical bills, etc.. It's also useful for tracking payments that you make only once a year or so (XM radio fees, insurance premiums). If I pay for a two year subcription to XM radio, in two years I'm not going to remember when I last paid it. The spreadsheet will tell me though.
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  #13  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:39 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
No. I haven't written a cheque in... God, 15 years perhaps?
I rarely write checks either, but I go through check registers like nobody's business. A debit transaction with my debit card is still a hit on the account that needs to be recorded.

Do you use cash and credit cards only, and make all other payments online?
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  #14  
Old 03-24-2011, 02:55 PM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is offline
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No, not anymore. Not in 10 or 12 years now.
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  #15  
Old 03-24-2011, 03:16 PM
Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
A debit transaction with my debit card is still a hit on the account that needs to be recorded.
That is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be recorded?

I don't formally "keep track" or balance anything. I look at my credit card transactions online about twice a month. I do a quick scan of them to see if they are all about the right amount. I have about 5 bank account transactions a month, so that takes about 30 seconds to glance at it to see if it is right. I don't record anything on paper or electronically.

Yea, I guess that I could get charged $78 on a $72 item once in a blue moon, but most people would have to record thousands of transactions before they found an error and it just isn't worth it. Any particularly large discrepancies I would notice and could handle.

I just can't remember ever thinking to myself, "if I had just kept better financial records, I wouldn't be in this bind."
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  #16  
Old 03-24-2011, 03:17 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is online now
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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
I rarely write checks either, but I go through check registers like nobody's business. A debit transaction with my debit card is still a hit on the account that needs to be recorded.

Do you use cash and credit cards only, and make all other payments online?
I'm not really sure what you mean by check register, if it's about more than cheques; anyway, yeah, it's just cash, online and a debit (not credit) card.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:30 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
I just can't remember ever thinking to myself, "if I had just kept better financial records, I wouldn't be in this bind."
Well, what if you paid someone $150 by check (say a tax bill or you borrowed from a friend). They drag their feet cashing it (tax departments tend to do this). You look at your balance online or whatever and it says you have $300, so you totally can use your debit card to buy a PS3. Except the day after you buy your PS3 the person holding the check you gave them cashes it, and now you're in the red. And you owe fees because you just caused a check to bounce.

Until a check is cashed, there's no record of it outside of your own personal records. That's different than a debit card, which takes the money out of your bank right away or a credit card which just piles up until you pay it.

If you never, ever use checks or if you use them so little that you can keep track of them in your head and subtract them from your balance until they're cashed, then you probably don't need a register.

Me, I just did my monthly stint in Quicken (I don't use a paper register anymore, but Quicken is a register) and had to enter 6 checks that I'd written since 2/8/11, only three of which had been cashed already. And trust me, I pay everything online if I can or use credit cards. This was all for other stuff.

So yes I keep a register. Seems like you have to write a lot of checks if you're a homeowner.
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  #18  
Old 03-24-2011, 04:05 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
That is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be recorded?
Because I have an orderly, mathematical mind, and I like to know how much money I have so that I don't have overdrafts, forget to pay bills, etc. I am not so filthy rich that I have all kinds of extra money sitting around in my account that I'm not using. Generally my usable balance doesn't drop below $200, but a couple of math errors or unexpected expenses can easily wipe that out. Sometimes checks and other transactions don't hit the account for a few months.

There is also the point I made earlier about not relying solely on the bank's records. If they make a mistake, how will you know? I am a fairly intelligent person with a good memory and a head for numbers, but I certainly don't trust myself (or desire) to handle my bank account completely in my head.

I totally don't get the whole attitude of not keeping a balanced account. Sounds like a recipe for financial disaster.
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  #19  
Old 03-24-2011, 04:12 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
I'm not really sure what you mean by check register, if it's about more than cheques; anyway, yeah, it's just cash, online and a debit (not credit) card.
A check register is the little book in which you record your deposits and withdrawals/payments (which could be by check, debit card, autopay, EFT, or online transaction, and probably some I didn't think of) for your checking account. Looks like this.
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  #20  
Old 03-24-2011, 04:48 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Technically, I could get just about get by without a check register. Most of my bills are paid electronically and/or automatically. My bookkeeping is done with Quicken, on the computer.

However, I still write a few paper checks, and I need a place to record the information before I enter the information into Quicken. For example, to our day care provider, and to our house cleaners.

Also, I simply like the idea of having a paper register that is up to date. I can take a quick look at the account activity without booting the computer.
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  #21  
Old 03-24-2011, 04:48 PM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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While I fall into the 'keep anal retentive record of how much money I have in each account' category, there is a different way of managing things.

My mom (who taught me her way and I rejected it) runs on a cash basis. She has an account strictly for bills, savings and cheques to come out of and the rest is the money is her money for the month or for saving for mid range purchases. It works very well for her but she doesn't keep track of the ins and outs of the account, just how much is in there now (though she moves money to the chequing account as soon as she writes one so that it is just gone).
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  #22  
Old 03-24-2011, 04:56 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
That is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be recorded?

I don't formally "keep track" or balance anything. I look at my credit card transactions online about twice a month. I do a quick scan of them to see if they are all about the right amount. I have about 5 bank account transactions a month, so that takes about 30 seconds to glance at it to see if it is right. I don't record anything on paper or electronically.

Yea, I guess that I could get charged $78 on a $72 item once in a blue moon, but most people would have to record thousands of transactions before they found an error and it just isn't worth it. Any particularly large discrepancies I would notice and could handle.

I just can't remember ever thinking to myself, "if I had just kept better financial records, I wouldn't be in this bind."
Every month I move a certain amount of money from my checking account into various savings and investment accounts. The amount I move depends on how much is available in the checking account. I need to know exactly how much I have, and that means I need to consider any outstanding items that haven't cleared yet. In particular, any outstanding checks that haven't cleared yet. I don't write many checks nowadays, but I do write a few.
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  #23  
Old 03-24-2011, 05:00 PM
SpoilerVirgin SpoilerVirgin is offline
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I just picked up a new check register a few minutes ago. I'm actually using two check registers at the moment -- one tracks the actual amount in my account, and the other tracks spending to my budget. I use the check register as a complete financial record -- it shows checks (I write about 5 a month), debits, and ATM withdrawals, which are frequent since I live primarily on cash. I also use it to set aside money for specific purchases, save up a little at a time for larger purchases, and record credit card charges so that the money isn't spent before the bill comes in.

In the second check register I record all of my cash spending that is specifically budgeted. At any time I can tell you what my outstanding credit card charges are, every check I've written, debit payment I've made, and most cash payments as well.

Much of this information could probably be made available to me in electronic format, but I've been using paper for a long time and am more comfortable with it. I also do not do any online banking.

I still get a paper statement and balance it to the penny each month.
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  #24  
Old 03-24-2011, 05:14 PM
Kaio Kaio is offline
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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
Personal preference. For me using a credit card for everything and paying it off every month sounds like a great idea in theory. But I'd have trouble keeping track and not overspending. Keeping cash and credit separate keeps me in line. I can look in my check register (I mainly use my debit card and autopay, but I use the register to track) and see that I have $XXX available until the next time I get paid. Can't look at my credit card statement to see that. My personal register also serves as a cross-check against the online bank records, and vice versa. I don't want to have to rely on the Internet to be able to find out how much money I have. It's all written down right here.
Similarly for me, except I use a spreadsheet, which automatically totals my monthly and yearly income/spending, and I have tracking codes assigned to every line item, so I can also automatically total how much I spend on food, transportation, rent, utilities, healthcare, etc., monthly and year-to-date. I also have multiple sources of income, so I track those too.

At the end of the year, it makes doing my tax return that much easier. Plus having the numbers in front of me keeps me from overspending.

And yes, in lean times (and there have been a lot of lean times in this economy), I need to know how much money I really have even if the check hasn't cleared yet. My rent and my health insurance premium get taken out of my account at around the same time, even though I write the rent check first -- I need to know that I will have enough money to cover both and still have some left over for groceries.

Last edited by Kaio; 03-24-2011 at 05:18 PM..
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  #25  
Old 03-24-2011, 05:35 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Originally Posted by Kaio View Post
Similarly for me, except I use a spreadsheet, which automatically totals my monthly and yearly income/spending, and I have tracking codes assigned to every line item, so I can also automatically total how much I spend on food, transportation, rent, utilities, healthcare, etc., monthly and year-to-date. I also have multiple sources of income, so I track those too.
I still gotta wonder about computer-only systems. What if you're out and about, or on vacation? On a day trip, running errands, I might have six or seven transactions, and not all of them planned. So do spreadsheet people pull up the spreadsheet every time before they leave the house so they know how much they have to work with? And then keep a running mental total and a wallet full of receipts until they get home?

I like having the numbers on me when I'm away from home. The register is right there in my wallet and I can write in it while the card machine is doing its thing. I might not do the subtraction right away, but I can look at the numbers and roughly figure it out (instead of having to *remember* the numbers *and* add them up).

Last edited by Scarlett67; 03-24-2011 at 05:36 PM.. Reason: closing parenthesis
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  #26  
Old 03-24-2011, 06:16 PM
Kaio Kaio is offline
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My major expenditures are bills and I pay those sitting at home in front of my computer. If I need groceries and think I might be a little low, I check before leaving. Otherwise, if I'm away from the house, I'm just not spending that much money, since I usually have so little of it to spend. I keep the receipts in my wallet, and enter everything twice a month when I pay the larger bills. But I think the most I've spent while away from the house is, say, a $70 grocery bill when I haven't been in three weeks. If I know I need a lot of groceries, I make sure I know how much money I have before I leave the house.

I pretty much can't afford to go on vacation, so the one vacation I've had, I set aside the money in advance, and spent frugally while I was there. No hotels, mostly just transportation and food which are pretty easy to plan for in advance. I paid for the plane tickets before I left, and researched bus fares before I left, too. Any debit purchases, I keep the receipt in my wallet and record it later, as always.

Basically, I just plan my spending before I leave the house, and really, I would need to do that anyway. I can't afford "unplanned' purchases. Anything that might be truly an emergency, would have to go on credit anyway, to be sorted out after the emergency is over (and believe me, few things qualify as that level of emergency).

Last edited by Kaio; 03-24-2011 at 06:19 PM..
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  #27  
Old 03-24-2011, 07:01 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I keep a pretty good eye on all of our accounts, expenses and income, but I don't keep a cheque register any longer. I do sign in to my online banking site regularly and check how things are going, make sure all the transactions are kosher, check deposits, and make payments. I don't really feel a need for paper tracking any longer, either, but I do write all my payment info on the remittances when I pay things online - I'd hate to have a glitch just as I was making a payment and not be able to prove I made a payment.
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  #28  
Old 03-24-2011, 07:10 PM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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We do the "wallet full of receipts" thing. My husband sits down once every couple days and enters all of our receipts into our spreadsheet. We actually itemize every single purchase, so if you want to know how much I spend on chicken in a month, I can tell you. For me, this is a really easy system, and I don't think he really minds it himself.

However, we didn't use to keep careful track and it wasn't a recipe for "disaster". Even if we occasionally overdrafted, I'd notice it right away and we might have to pay a $30 fee. That's not smart fiscal management, but if it happens once or twice a year it's not the end of the world.

The reason we keep careful track is that we've put ourselves on very, very strict spending limits, and we found that eyeballing it didn't work for that. So even now our record keeping is about making sure we are within our personal parameters, not about making sure there is money in the bank.

I do get a daily email from my bank with the previous day's transactions, and I always look over that to make sure nothing is out of line.
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  #29  
Old 03-24-2011, 07:14 PM
impatien impatien is offline
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Originally Posted by Scarlett67 View Post
I rarely write checks either, but I go through check registers like nobody's business. A debit transaction with my debit card is still a hit on the account that needs to be recorded.

Do you use cash and credit cards only, and make all other payments online?
Absolutely this. I enter every single transaction, be it either a check (not writing many of those these days) or a debit. They all have to be kept track of and of course all deposits. I know every time I add something to my check register exactly how much money I have in my checking account. How else do you know? I don't like to have to go online every day to keep track of my money--only every few weeks to make sure it balances with my check register.
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  #30  
Old 03-24-2011, 07:23 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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I use online banking and check to make sure my transactions all went through properly every few days. I pay for pretty much everything using a debit card, I don't like carrying cash. But I would never use a check register. My mom tried to get me to do it when I was a teenager and it all seemed like a big boondoggle when the website has redundant information.

I also never overdraft. I did a couple times in college and the fees were enough to convince me never to cut things that close again.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 03-24-2011 at 07:24 PM..
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:57 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Another handy use of my check register:

My statement closes on the 25th of every month. However, I have several bills from the 25th to the end of the month that are autopaid; they total about $600.

I keep a separate paper chart showing all of the monthly bills, dates due, exact or approximate amounts, and whether they're paid manually online, by autopay, or by Mr. S. When the bill is actually paid, I check it off.

I'm self-employed, so checks come in irregularly. Most of the time I can "pay" my autopaid bills well in advance by simply subtracting them out in the register. However, I don't like to subtract that $600 worth of bills before the statement closes. That makes balancing a headache because then I have to add those amounts back in to make the balance as of the 25th accurate.

So what I do is this: In mid-month, in my register, I write a big SUB with a big star, and subtract out that $600. Then I circle those amounts in pencil on my bill-paying chart. This way, I know that I've allocated the money and won't spend it.

On the 25th at statement-balancing time, I write in ADD with a big star, check off both the SUB and ADD lines, and add back the $600. Then I balance the account. Now I can go ahead and "pay" those individual bills by subtracting their amounts, erasing the penciled circle, and checking them off, and they will show up on the next statement, nice and neat.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:36 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
That is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be recorded?

I don't formally "keep track" or balance anything. I look at my credit card transactions online about twice a month. I do a quick scan of them to see if they are all about the right amount. I have about 5 bank account transactions a month, so that takes about 30 seconds to glance at it to see if it is right. I don't record anything on paper or electronically.
Yup. I've discovered that almost every single debit card transaction I make shows up on my bank's online banking site within minutes. And of the two checks I write each month, the rent check is paid to my roommate (he's the primary renter, and he writes the single check to the landlord) and he usually deposits it the same day or the next and it rarely takes more than a day or two to show up on my online banking record; the second check, to the comic shop, is only around $40-$50, and while the store owner holds onto the check because he only makes a deposit once a week, he's told me his system — I've been his customer since 1987 — and I know exactly when he'll be depositing my check.

Additionally, I've managed to cut my "unnecessary" spending dramatically, so I rarely worry anymore about overspending or having overdrafts. Though I didn't realize how much I'd cut my spending until I got ready to do my Christmas shopping back in December. Work had been kind of slow so I was worried I wasn't going to be able to spend much on gifts. So a week before Christmas I logged into my online banking to see how much money I had, and I was utterly astonished to discover I had $2200 sitting there in my account.

Last edited by Mister Rik; 03-24-2011 at 11:37 PM..
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  #33  
Old 03-25-2011, 01:33 AM
Nametag Nametag is online now
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I kept an up-to-date register until about five years ago; balanced my checkbook every month, always to the penny. Since I switched to online banking I don't bother, since I can check my balance any time, on my computer or on my phone. One reason that this works for me is my affinity for numbers: I have a pretty good sense of what recent transactions are doing to my balance, and I know what automatic payments are coming up, so I don't really need to check it every day.
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  #34  
Old 03-25-2011, 08:15 AM
divemaster divemaster is offline
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I pay all my bills by checks except for the mortgage, which I pay on line. And we use the debit card for daily purchases. So of course I keep a register. I like to keep current with my balance. At any given time, my register is more accurate and up-to-date than the bank's on-line information. Thus, my register is always 100% correct, and my on-line balance never is.
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  #35  
Old 03-25-2011, 09:41 AM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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I pay all my bills by checks except for the mortgage
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
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  #36  
Old 03-25-2011, 09:49 AM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
But the payee gets his/her payment immediately if you write a check. For some sporadic purposes, that's a very useful thing. A lot of my kids' school expenses are paid by check for that very reason.

I've had problems with payees not cashing checks sent from the bank's online billpaying service, also (mostly doctors, for some reason). Whereas if I mail them a check, I know it'll get cashed and credited to my account.

We still write 4-5 checks every month. I'd like it to be fewer but there are times where it truly is the easiest way to pay.

Oh - and the checks are an excellent reason to keep a register. Some of the payees don't cash their checks for weeks or even a month or two. By having them in the register (Quicken), I can see that I've got x dollars today but have y dollars outstanding, so better not spend more than (x - y).

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 03-25-2011 at 09:50 AM..
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  #37  
Old 03-25-2011, 09:50 AM
Sateryn76 Sateryn76 is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
It takes longer to type in the check info, IMO. Even if it's saved by my bank every month, I would still double check everything, which would take at least as much time.

I use a check register, and only make payments by check or cash. I am not good with credit, and get lazy about tracking debit card use, so it works the best for me. I have not overdrawn my account in almost 15 years.

I can't imagine being able to budget properly without tracking that information. We live "paycheck to paycheck", in that all of our money is spent to zero every month. We have disposable income, but since we also have debt, that money goes to the creditor every month. I sit down at the 1st of month, write up a budget, and send the balance to the creditor. Not having everything written down would quickly spell disaster for our financial plan.
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:18 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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I keep it, though my official source is Quicken. But it's good to be able to look in the checkbook and see how much money you have before writing a check.

I use credit cards for most purchases, but pay off the cards each month. Twice a month, I write checks. I don't pay electronically; my bank charges more for them than my cost for writing the checks, and several of my monthly bills don't have electronic transfer anyway. I also don't want any automatic withdrawals because they could occur when I don't have the money to cover them (I can be pretty low near payday).

The only banking I do electronically is transfer money from checking to savings.
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  #39  
Old 03-25-2011, 11:18 AM
divemaster divemaster is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
I like writing checks.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:49 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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I don't keep a register, per se, but I do check my bank statement online several times a week. I write so few checks that I can keep track of those fairly easily, and the organizations I write them to are pretty good about depositing them quickly. Virtually all of our bills can be paid online, so the money is gone immediately and I have two confirmations that they were paid -- one from the company, and the other on my bank statement. I don't do the bank's online bill-pay because there is too much chance for something to get hung up, and I've had some payees complain that the checks from the bank look too much like junk mail. So I just do it myself, and when I can't do it online, they get a check. It's simpler that way, at least for me.
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:03 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
My bank does not offer online bill pay. I can look at my transactions that have already happened, but I can't set up bill-paying from the bank's end. I have to do that with each company—if they offer it.

As I wrote in the "separate finances" thread, our vet, the LP company, and my computer guy don't take plastic, and cash would usually be a pain for those transactions. The bank wants a check with the stub from the payment book for our mortgage.

I repeat: Just because high-tech banking is available in some areas doesn't mean it's pervasive everywhere, or that everyone wants to use it and thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's like saying "I don't understand why anyone wears green. I don't like green."
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:36 PM
Mauvaise Mauvaise is offline
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I rarely write checks either, but I go through check registers like nobody's business. A debit transaction with my debit card is still a hit on the account that needs to be recorded.

Me too, except I, like the OP, also pay for most things with my credit card (for the Amazon points) which gets paid off each month. Every single individual credit card charge gets recorded in my check register along with any other transaction, in or out.

I've read too many stories of people overdrafting their accounts because they rely only on their bank's records of how much cash they have. If something doesn't clear for a couple days or, in the case of the random check, a couple months, it won't matter to me because the moment the money is 'spent' it is subtracted on my register. Granted, I do try to keep a minimum of $500 "float" in my account at all times, I still like knowing what I actually have to spend.

I also use the register each month to "balance" my credit card actions just in case I got double billed for something, or there is a fraudulent charge, or even if I forget to record a purchase (usually something online).

I'm also a little more anal than most about it. I know what my recurring charges are each month (car payment, cell phone, electric, etc.) and whether they hit at the 1st or the 15th of the month. So when I get paid I record the deposit and immediately subtract the recurring charges for that pay period so I have an accurate idea of how much discretionary money I have for each pay period.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:05 PM
Flutterby Flutterby is online now
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I do use a register of sorts. At the end of the day, or several days I enter my spending into a spreadsheet so I know what I have in my account. It's really messy though, I want to clean it up but I don't know a lot about excel. At least I know what money I have to spend though. if I plan to go on a shopping spree I check before I leave so I know how much money I actually have to spend.

I do it like that because I have a cheque card, in addition to writing cheques (I write a few a month for things like rent or my son's school things and occasionally people like the plumber). I save money with the cheque card as it doesn't 'count' towards transactions which means less bank fees but sometimes it takes several days for it to clear my account. I could look at my bank balance easily enough but if I've used my cheque card quite a bit it could easily be out by enough to put me in overdraft and I try to avoid that. I also find it too easy to overspend if I use my credit card day to day, so I use it rarely or for big things which I pay off asap so I can get the airmiles.
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  #44  
Old 03-25-2011, 01:24 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
If you bank online, you can pay ALL your bills online. Writing checks is time-consuming and seems silly in comparison with the convenience. You can still keep a register if you want, but I don't understand why people use checks for anything except rent these days.
Only if the payees take it. Or don't have restrictions. PG&E, our explosive power company, only lets you pay on-line if you give up paper bills. I want paper bills as receipts, and as reminders. My on-line phone bill reminder didn't show up for some reason (or I deleted it by mistake) and I was only reminded by the paper bill showing up.

I have Wells Fargo checking and a mortgage from Wells Fargo - but on-line mortgage payments don't allow you to pay extra principal. So, we pay by check, which is stupid, but there you go.

I don't think our handyman is set up for on-line bill pay, and even if he has a PayPal account, why make him eat the charges?
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:42 PM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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When it's my turn to deal with our banking I log into Quicken about twice a week and update payments and deposits. I check for unfamiliar entries when the credit card statement comes but I don't save every receipt. I do save most of them though, definitely anything with tax implications.

I pay every bill we have through online payments. We don't deal with dog walkers or house cleaners right now so that's not a concern, anything I can't pay directly from the account I can pay by credit card and then pay that with an online payment.

The nice part about the system is that since everything is set up in Quicken as a reoccuring payment when a bill doesn't arrive in the mail I still know it's due and make a guess at what the payment should be (happened twice in the last year or so)
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  #46  
Old 03-26-2011, 12:19 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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I have like 5 transactions in my bank account a month,
I'm tracking two joint checking accounts and a business checking account. Although I use Quicken, we also use the check registers. Rather than having 5 transactions a month we have over a hundred. Some checks, some debit card, some automatic payments; on top of that I have to track business invoices coming in and out.

A register serves as a manual 'backup' to check all the electronic stuff I track.
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  #47  
Old 03-26-2011, 01:40 AM
CanvasShoes CanvasShoes is offline
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It's all online. I don't even balance my checkbook anymore. I check my account a couple of times a week, or a couple of times a day depending upon whether it's the bill paying time of month (Just to make sure something didn't sneak in, though I usually know where I'm at).

I have online bill pay as well. My bank even has a budget feature. It's fabulous, I honestly can't understand why anyone would go through the labor of paper check registers.
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  #48  
Old 03-26-2011, 02:56 AM
Roland Orzabal Roland Orzabal is offline
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I don't keep a checkbook register, as I have a good memory and am handy with arithmetic. Admittedly, having worked for a bank in a service capacity helped, but I always felt a bit hypocritical recommending to customers that they keep a checkbook register, since I really don't think there's any need for most single-owner account holders to do it.

The procedure:
  • Know how much money you've deposited.
  • Know how much money you've spent.
  • Check your balance occasionally via online banking, phone, or ATM.
  • If it doesn't add up, figure out whether you have any outstanding checks or recent transactions that might not have cleared.
  • If you do, subtract those from your balance and see if it makes sense then.
  • On the rare occasion that that's not true, call the bank and figure out what the fuck.
  • If it's the bank's fault, have them fix it.
  • If it's your fault, suck it up.
  • If that last one happens frequently, stop shooting yourself in the foot and keep a checkbook register since you cannot successfully accomplish steps one and two.*

Granted, the above doesn't apply to joint accounts, where you don't always know how much has been spent and when. For this reason, as well as 1,927 others (I kept pretty good track) that I won't mention in this thread to avoid derailing it, I will defend to the death that joint accounts are always, always, always, always a bad idea. For the savvy single account holder, though, registers are more or less unnecessary.

*But if you can't do that, you will probably screw up at keeping a register anyway, so I hope you like overdraft fees.
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  #49  
Old 03-26-2011, 11:17 AM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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It was comical watching my 20-something daughter trying to pay H&R Block with a blank check her dad had given her. She had to ask them HOW to do it! She buys everything with her debit card. I saw a bank statement from when she worked at Walmart and bought her lunch there every day: "$2.50, $2.50, $2.50, $2.50, $2.50, $2.50, $2.50..."

I have a very small checking account. I just LIKE having a little money stashed away, so when I'm out shopping and don't have enough cash I can just write a check. I write one or two checks a month. I round off the amounts and subtract them from the current balance. (It only takes 2 minutes, it takes that long to turn on the computer, or to call the bank for the automated information.) But I'm thinking of closing up that account because the free checking is no longer free, they're going to take out $5 a month, and I find that annoying.
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  #50  
Old 03-26-2011, 12:51 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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No credit cards. Two checking accounts with debit cards and one savings account. I keep all three electronically on my computer and reconcile all the statements. These get backed up to another hard drive in another room, and also to an offsite service, every single time.

Can't imagine not keeping my own record. For one thing, having been the victim of an identity theft, I know the nightmare would have been way way worse without accurate records.
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