Balancing a checkbook?

Do you still sit down and balance your checkbook or do you check you balance and trust that it is correct? I still do a month balance but it is a pain with all the small debit purchases and also that I don’t always ask, or get, a receipt to enter the transaction. So, I am still doing it old school, and what is the consensus for the average person?

Since this is asking for personal experiences, this thread is for IMHO, not FQ. Moving.

Kind of. I put everything in quick books for my bank account and credit cards. I reconcile all of it against the statements.

I’m still doing it old-school. Paper is reassuringly persistent.

Nope. Not for the last forty years or so. I scan the monthly summary the bank provides to see if anything looks strangely out of place. When I spend time balancing my checkbook I never found an error. I figure my time is worth more than that.

Any recently I don’t write more than ten checks all year, so it should be really easy to balance, but I still don’t.

When I am paying bills, I look up my checking account online, and compare it to the paper check register. I do this fairly frequently, so I am rarely surprised.

I still balance my checkbook to the penny every month, just like my dad taught me 45 years ago. Of course, now I use a computer so it’s much faster.

I import everything into Quicken on a monthly basis and categorize. If I don’t recognize a charge, I’ll ask my wife what it is.

I balance, but to the nearest dollar.

I’ve never bothered to balance a checkbook since I’ve been financially able to move past paycheck-to-paycheck living 35 years ago. I keep my checking balance small and move excess into savings, so any wrong amounts would be visible, unless they are small enough that I wouldn’t bother getting it fixed anyway.

I rarely use my checking account for anything but to pay off my credit card. I review my credit card purchases every two weeks, my checking account along with it, and promptly pay off the balance before incurring any interest. I haven’t noticed a suspicious charge (or purchase) since I learned I had fallen for one of those “free” credit report scams (as in "sign up for a premium membership, and to get a free credit report… and we’ll charge you every month for the privilege of requesting future credit reports you weren’t even going to ask for "). That was… fifteen years ago.

What more use would I get from “balancing” my checkbook?

I keep track of bills and write checks where necessary. Why don’t we go entirely electronic? Some local businesses ask for checks because the huge costs that credit card companies impose. Some health costs are reimbursable but the hospital’s electronic system doesn’t produce receipts that are acceptable to the insurance company. Ridiculous but true. Paper still has a place.

My wife adds in all the stuff that happens online and balances the result. She provides an objective eye to catch any mistakes I make. And she’s caught mistakes made by others, which is pretty useful.

We never ever use debit cards for anything. That - as the OP says - would mean tracking all sorts of minor stuff and introducing multiple opportunities for mistakes.

Checks and credit cards and two sets of eyes: best of both worlds.

I balance my checking account in which one check gets used every couple of months, ATM cash on occasion, utility bills and mortgage deducted, venmo in and out, paying the credit card and use of the debit card. I used to get my pay check direct deposited into it.

This. I don’t believe I even own any paper check registers, although I do have some paper checks for each account I could write checks on. Of which there are 4.

I have about 20 checking transactions in my primary account per month, zero of which are paper checks I’ve written. A few ACHs, a few auto-deposits, a few Zelles, a bunch of autopay outbound payments, and the occasional ATM withdrawal.

When the bank emails me saying a statement is available I log on and I run my eyes down the column of dollar mounts looking for any unexpected larger numbers. And down the column of payees/depositors looking for anyone unexpected. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary I’m done. Takes 20 seconds to log on and 20 seconds to scan the statement.

My attitude to credit cards is similar. That’s usually a 3 page statement; just slide down the amounts looking for anything big. Then see who it was and when and does that seem vaguely familiar? If so, we’re good. I have 1 primary card to review every month, one secondary with a handful of transactions, and a few other rarely used cards to review only in the odd months they get a charge.

I’ve never balanced my checkbook. I do review my CC statement before paying it each month. It’s worked for the past 40+ years.

I have never balanced my checkbook in my entire life. It does that on its own. The only checkbook I own was from when I very first opened my bank account with the now defunct bank of America.

“Now defunct”?


I reconcile credit cards and bank statements quite often. Just those of my business clients, not my own. For my own accounts, much like many people here are saying they do, I check my my credit card accounts and bank accounts once a week for suspicious activity. I write so few checks that I don’t see the point of keeping a ledger and balancing to it. The state now accepts bank transfers for car registration, which was the majority of my checks for many years. I went to see a doctor a few times that didn’t have an online credit card payment portal, so I wrote him a few checks. My regular doctors I pay with credit cards. Any checks now are probably one-off things, and they’re probably less than once a year.

My wife was a bookkeeper and so even when we still balanced a check register she divided it into sections like an accounting ledger to distinguish things like recurring fixed payments, money set aside each month for yearly insurance payments, etc.

For the past several years I’ve tracked my checking account in an Excel workbook I wrote for the purpose. The primary thing is that it lets me know immediately how much discretionary funds I have on hand as opposed to the total account balance. This included pending checks written but not processed yet; but with the advent of online payment for things like utility bills it’s probably been a couple of years now since I’ve actually written a paper check. I usually pay for things by either debit card or cash. And I can check my bank transactions online any time so typically I update my Excel workbook once or twice a month to record income and expenditures.

I’ve been using Quicken since 1995 and one thing I’ve noticed is prior to Quicken a few cents difference was just disregarded but now I have to find the discrepancy so it takes longer. And it’s always my mistake mistyping it.