Checks & Balances

When I went off to college, my mom helped me set up a checking account.  (Up until then, although I did have a savings account at the bank, most of my financial dealings involved a jar of cash in my underwear drawer.)

She dutifully showed me how to balance my checkbook which I did EVERY MONTH for decades.  Then when the bank card came into play, I wrote every transaction into my check register and continued to balance the checkbook.

Then at some point in YA’s young life, I only got to balancing every few months and by the time she was seven or eight, with the advent of online banking, I gave up putting any bank card transactions in the register and shortly thereafter gave up balancing the checkbook.

I only write about five or six checks a month these days – one each week to the milkman and during the summer, one a month to Bachmans.  Very few others – even the Girl Scouts will take your money electronically in 2022.

Yesterday when I wrote out the weekly check for the milkman, I realized I was getting really close to the end of the register.  In looking back through it, I noticed that it is almost six years old.  Hard to imagine I’ve used the same check register for that long.  I expect that when I quit having weekly dairy delivery, my check register will last at least a decade!

Do you still balance your checkbook?  Do you even still HAVE a checkbook?

44 thoughts on “Checks & Balances”

  1. I do have a checkbook, but write very few checks. As a matter of fact, I just checked by checkbook. The first check of the current “book” was written in November of 2018. The most recent check, in April of this year. There are twenty-five checks per “book,” and I have six left. At the rate I’m going, I may never need to reorder checks. Actually, I’m pretty sure I wont.

    For most day to day purchases I use my debit or credit card, and pay monthly bills electronically. For farmers’ market and my domestic fairy, I use cash.

    I haven’t balanced my check book in forty years, but I keep a close eye on what goes in and out of the checking account on my laptop.
    I balanced my checkbook religiously for years, but never found an error made by the bank; they were a lot more reliable than me. This was back in the day when I paid almost everything by check, including sending out envelopes every month to pay for utilities, newspaper subscriptions, and whatnot. It was also a time when I constantly had to worry about whether there were sufficient funds in the account to pay for it all. Thankfully those days are over.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Run the Figures, Baboons,

    Like others, I gave up balancing the checkbook years ago. I do not miss this nasty task. I watch the online balance closely though. I am amazed at how few checks I actually write now. This leads to the problem that I do not realize I am out of checks because I now buy only 50 checks at a time.

    PJ, I like your “Domestic Fairy” term. My Fairy also is on a cash basis. If I was running a housekeeping service, Ithink I would use that as a name.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Absolutely, I have a checkbook. I still write checks for most of my bills. But I’m terrible about keeping my register and even worse about balancing it.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. We have a checkbook and I write checks for a few things every month. I have never balanced the checkbook, keeping a running tab in my head, and using on-line banking to monitor the balance.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Well, I guess I am the dinosaur. I still have a checkbook and write about a 10 checks a month. I do use my debit card much more than I used to (I had it for about 3 years before I used it the first time). My check register lists all the debit card purchases along with the checks and I balance it to the penny every month – a job I don’t mind and get satisfaction from when my calculations agree with the bank. I do use EFT for 3 monthly payments. I’m not against electronic banking – it’s just the way I budget. I am much more careful about spending when I know exactly how much I spend and where the money is going. I also pay cash at the gas station (too many horror stories about identity theft using credit cards). There are several payments that are charged to my VISA every month (Amazon Prime, other streaming) and I pay that in full (and sometimes ahead) each month. My sisters deferred to me when we were dealing with Mom’s money issues during the last couple of years she was alive because they know I am better at managing it than they are.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi K-Two. You and I are peas in a pod. While I hardly ever write checks, I use a check register to track every transaction even if it’s on a credit card. We use two credit cards as debit cards so we can earn points. It works out pretty well. I can’t do any of this in my head as I am not a numbers person at all! I don’t mind this chore either; like you, I enjoy the satisfaction of tracking our money and knowing where it goes. We had one credit card taken at a gas station, but my husband accidentally dropped it unknowingly. It all worked out, luckily.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Sandra always kept the accounts. Then five years ago it was a mess and she asked me to take over. She insists I took it away from her. (Same with her drugs.) took me 7 months to get it right and15 months to get rid of the many credit cards she had. Took me 2 1/2 years to get rid of the debt. Along the way I started daily reconciliation using my own paper register not the little bank ones. Now I am compulsive about the daily accounting.
    I write checks for all bills despite most of them pushing me not to. I make all donations by check. I refuse to let anyone do a monthly withdrawal besides insurance. My bills are for rent for me and for her, Xcel, cell phone, car insurance, car tabs and such, internet, and supplies for her. That is all. Have one credit card I use for online purchases and nothing else. Pay it off by cash transfer every month.
    Took Sandra off account for second time. Bank messed it up first time. Just added daughter to account. Did manage to get POA from Sandra so I can handle her business.
    For 7th time my bank is becoming another bank. Bigger bank with bad rep bought out this bank but is going to use its name. No name change but everything else will it seems.
    Banks are legalized criminals.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry you had to deal with all of that, and to pay off so much debt. My Mom handled the finances, and she’d saved and planned and was able to pay the house off early…then after she died Dad remortgaged it more than once in order to invest in what to me were obviously scams (gold coins, MLM, something to do with Y2K, a bizarre scheme to find oil in Israel based on Biblical prophecy. SMH). When he went into assisted living I had to let them repossess the house. That was…not a good time. As for the big banks, Roommate and I switched to a credit union after the Great Recession, because we were nauseated by what the banks had been doing.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sandra was a trained bookkeeper and was very good at it for the first 50 years of our marriage. Noy my natural thing, so I get OCD about it to do it right. I did not fully realize how much her brain had dteriorated until then.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, CG this sounds so difficult.

        I caught WF bank messing with charges in 2009 and changed to a credit union. When they got busted for their practices The reported crimes were what I experienced.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. CG’s story about her father refinancing his house reminded me of this.

        A former secretary of mine had an incredible run of bad luck. Some of it was brought on by some pretty bad decisions on her part.

        It started in 1986 when she lost her job as executive secretary to the managing partner of the large CPA firm where I once worked. He retired, and his replacement, who was transferred in from Chicago, brought with him a secretary he had worked with for years. This happened just as personal computers were making inroads into offices, and R had never learned to use one. This made it pretty near impossible to find another secretarial job at any, let alone executive, level.

        Then she fell in love with a chef at a local country club; the love of her life, she said. She divorced husband number two, and in the divorce settlement received their very nice house in St. Louis Park, free and clear. She had two adult children from her first marriage, only one of whom still lived with her; a son who had gotten into all kinds of trouble as a teen, and was still having a hard time holding down a job.

        In short order the chef moved in, and within a year quit his job at the country club because of the lousy work hours. R and the chef decided they needed to start their own business. They settled on installing modular office furniture in open office environment which were all the rage at the time. To finance this enterprise, R mortgaged her house, and they set to work, but it was slow going.

        A couple of years went by, and things seemed to be looking up, so they decided to get married. Six months after the wedding, the chef wasn’t feeling well one evening, and decided to take a nap on the couch. At bedtime, R couldn’t rouse him, and went to bed alone. The following morning she found him dead on the couch. In making arrangements for his funeral she discovered that he had stopped paying the premium on his life insurance months earlier. She was devastated, broke, and within a few months her house was foreclosed on.

        Last I saw her she was living in a cheap apartment in Brooklyn Park, and cleaning houses for other people. I hired her a couple of times, but the fact was that she was a lousy house cleaner, I doubt very much that she could make a living doing it. After that, I saw her one additional time on the evening news: Her mother had been murdered in her own apartment by an intruder who had tied her to a chair and robbed her of what little she had. R, who lived just a couple of blocks away, stopped by to visit almost every day. She was the one who found her, stabbed to death with one of her own kitchen knives.

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        1. UffDa. That falling in love thing when it is too good to e true is almost always….too good to be true.

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        2. I know, Ben. Unbelievably sad, but true, story. She was smart, dressed well, and had really good old fashioned secretarial skills. Before I left that firm I had tried to convince her that taking some computer classes would be a good idea, but at the time she didn’t foresee losing her job, and resisted. I tried to help her avoid the foreclosure and even enlisted a friend of mine, a realtor, to help her, but by then it was too late. I haven’t heard from her in years, I have no idea how she’s doing now. I hope she has recovered somehow.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. I don’t know how much of what happened can be blamed on that, Jacque. Last time I talked with her she still thought of the chef as the love of her life. But it was certainly unfortunate that he hadn’t paid his life insurance premiums and then proceeded to die so unexpectedly in his early fifties.

          Liked by 4 people

        4. This reminds me of that question we had one day about what’s one decision you made, bad or good, that could/would have changed the course of your life. If she’d accepted the idea of learning the new computer stuff…

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  7. I have a checkbook and only write one check a month, for rent–everything else is autopay and debit card. I haven’t balanced it for years, and feel like that’s a very bad habit, but it’s a hard one to break (I hate anything to do with numbers). I should check my account much more often and keep better track of my money. But then, I should also floss, take my calcium, and make my bed every single morning too!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. The cash back for charges to my lone credit card is welcome. I haven’t had a balance on which to pay interest for at least 15 years.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I finally quite balancing years ago, just sot of drifted away as more bills were being auto-paid. Husband keeps an eye on the online check register, and I know how to get in there, anyway.

    I still use a few checks/month for sporadic spending like haircut, chiropractor. I now tear out and carry one check in my billfold, but then try and remember to write it down in the register when spent. We started a new register a year ago, but the last one was from 5/17 to 3/21 !

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Remember my daughter and family driving home from Idaho because Mr. Tuxedo had Covid? In Bozeman. Only daughter is not sick. Cannot leave there until her husband’s colon allows him off the toilet. Hope to drive past Renee as far as Bismakr today.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t balance my checkbook anymore. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet when I paid more bills with checks. Now I have almost all my bills paid through ACH or I pay them electronically. There are some bills that I still want to control, like Xcel Energy and Spectrum. I don’t want them taking money out of my account before I see the invoice so I don’t set up ACH for them. I do for my mortgage, my HOA, and my car insurance. I check account balances daily using online banking. Paying off my loans and getting away from the big bank was the best financial decision I could make. Affinity Plus has helped me in so many ways. I love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m creating a spreadsheet right now for all the medical expenses I’ve had this year. Up to $60,000 and only to March! Thank Goodness for medical insurance.

    I kind of enjoy keeping track of stuff like this… but that doesn’t mean I balance my check books.

    The farm is a business so it has its own bank account and check book. The household has its own account and checkbook. We have multiple accounts at multiple institutions. I think my register lasted two years. I don’t remember the last time I ordered blanks. I even have books of deposit slips.

    At the college I deal with two cost centers and I keep spreadsheets on them and double check them against the business office. I just saved $201 by cancelling a phone down in the costume room that no one uses anymore.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I do keep track of all (most) of the expenses for the farm accounting and tax proposes. I’m pretty specific about the farm stuff (because that’s what some of the taxes are based on) but I may lump all the monthly groceries into one entry.
      It’s gotten harder and harder to keep track of things. Electronic receipts I send to a separate email folder. I try to cross reference with the paper copies
      But I still enter duplicates, which I’ll weed out at the end of the year.
      Then I go through the online bank records and find charges that I don’t get receipts for.
      Plus there are things that I only have paper receipts for. “Data management”; it’s a full time job.

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      1. I resisted doing deposits at the ATM for years. But now days, half the branches are closed and it’s my only options and I’ve learned they are pretty slick.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I bought a Mac in about 1988 and started tracking my checking transactions on a spreadsheet instead of on a paper register then.

    Over the years more and more transactions have been auto debits instead of paper checks, but I still keep the electronic register. I probably write only a check a two a year now.

    I once entrusted a deposit to an ATM and the bank mislaid it. I went into the branch and reported the missing deposit, and was told they couldn’t do anything to try to locate the envelope that had been eaten by the ATM.

    ATM deposits are not handled at the branch, they go to a different branch somewhere else. I filed a complaint about it, and got a form letter saying no error was found. A couple of weeks later I was close to asking the parties who had written me checks to write replacements, and then out of the blue the funds appeared in my account. Never got an apology from the bank.

    Now I take deposits to the teller at the drive-thru.

    Liked by 3 people

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