Balancing a checkbook?

Back when I didn’t have much money, I kept a running balance in my checkbook , because back then it was possible that I might bounce a check if I wrote it too soon or took a little too much out of the ATM. Now I have both a cushion and overdraft so I’m not worried about that. I keep a list of any outstanding checks and look at my online statement every few days to see if anything looks off.

This statement makes me wonder what you think “balancing a checkbook” means. It doesn’t mean “seeing how much money is in your account at the bank at this moment.”

I often glance over the monthly checking account statement to see if there are any large charges that I don’t recognize. It’s a lot easier for the checking account than the credit card account, because almost everything is a repeat transaction every month or two (for some utilities). But I don’t reconcile anything – I write almost no checks, and I don’t keep a written check register like I used to back in the day. So there is really nothing to reconcile. All my purchases are by credit card, even the small ones since Covid.

I don’t think I’ve written a check in 15 or so.

So no.

I’m kind of curious what people are still using checks for besides mortgage payments?

What’s a mortgage payment? (Because young people are well past being able to enter the housing market these days)

My water comes from a public well and, until a couple months ago, had to be paid by check. Even now it’s a $3.50 fee to pay by credit. We’ve had some medical bills where there’s no easy pay online type feature, you just pay by check or have to call in to pay by credit/debit. And the occasional school field trip fee or similar. Ironically, the mortgage is all electronic.

I do write comparatively few checks though compared to the old days. We’re still on checks we ordered 10+ years ago. And I’m another person who just scans the online statement for anything weird and asks the spouse if I don’t recognize a charge or it looks out of place.

Okay thanks. I pay all my bills online. I don’t even get a bill in the mail. That’s including medical.

I just assumed that’s how it is for everybody these days.

I still balance all my accounts using MS Money and have done so for the last 25 years. I’m anal. I’ve caught things that were incorrect, but also know that I’ve come out on the + side of things over those 25 years ($100 cash withdrawal from a shady ATM near Glacier NP has never show up).

Best part is to see my net wealth grow over that quarter century. If you think it has followed the DOW chart over that 25 years, you’d be correct.

Recent paper checks (went online to view last 30 days)

Guy at frame shop gave us a 3% discount for cash or check.
IRS quarterly estimated tax
Birthday check to daughter in law
some guy my wife wrote a $100 check to that I don’t know what it was. Memo said “Thank you.”
Insurance premium.

I see about 30 checks over the past 6 months. We pay our mortgage electronically, and many other things.

Re: balancing a checkbook. I used to do it. Even in the early days of quicken. I simply don’t see any utility in doing it anymore. I can see instantly any transaction or balance by opening the app on my phone or computer.

No. I skim my credit card / bank account history for suspicious charges on occasion, but that’s it. Waste of time to do anything more. Frankly, it’s probably a waste to do even that. In all these years I’ve caught a single fraudulent charge of a few hundred bucks. Probably dozens of hours, all added up, to catch one charge.

I agree with that, but I came up extremely poor into my late 20s. I had to watch cents. You can’t just wash away three decades of extreme diligence. I’m “wealthy” now, but I don’t think I can ever stop watching.

Our landscaper.

I use “balancing a checkbook” to mean “watching all my accounts”.

I think historically it meant writing every transaction in the checkbook register, to keep a running balance that equalled the expected future balance after all checks are paid. This made sense when (a) most transactions were checks, and (b) info about your account came only monthly on a piece of paper. When the statement came through, you’d verify that the balance agreed with one of your running balances in the checkbook register, and look for the discrepancy if it didn’t.

Nowadays, there are better ways to keep track of your accounts.

Yeah, I still do all of that. Checking, savings, IRA, etc. As I said…I’m anal. I grew up very poor and I still cannot keep close eyes on my accounts even though I’m now very comfortable (could probably retire at 53 and not run out of money). It’s about 5 minutes of my daily routine for the most part (quarterly retirement statements add a bit).

My mortgage payment comes directly out of my checking account.

My gardener and my plumber prefer checks. The contractor for my kitchen remodel wanted checks. The guy who serviced my hot tub last month also.

I have watched numerous online tutorials that demonstrate alternative payment methods for gardeners, plumbers, handymen, pizza delivery guys, etc. I realize now that the motivation behind these tutorials was probably to obviate balancing your check book.

Or just to not have to deal with PITA paper checks.

I just do what they prefer. It’s all the same to me. More and more they are moving to Zelle and Venmo.

I haven’t balanced my checking and credit card accounts on paper since I got Quicken sometime in the early 90’s, and I stopped even that about 10 or 15 years ago. I’m in the habit of looking at my credit union app every few days and quickly reviewing new transactions. Now that I’m retired and the money is starting to go out of savings instead of in, I’m considering getting back into the habit of using financial software just to be sure we know where we’re spending our money.