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?

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.

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.

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.).

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

No. I haven’t written a cheque in… God, 15 years perhaps?

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.

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?

No, not anymore. Not in 10 or 12 years now.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.