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Balancing your checkbook
Old 06-19-2008, 09:19 AM   #1
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Balancing your checkbook

Iím constantly amazed at the number of people who tell me that they either donít know how to balance their checkbook or donít bother to do it. Iíve met very intelligent people with Masterís Degrees who donít even balance their checkbook. I donít want to be judgmental (Iím far from perfect), but what does this tell us about the state of Americans? I mean, if they donít balance their checkbook, how can they ever do other more complicated things like control spending, invest in stocks/mutual funds, or plan for retirement?

OK, Iíll get off my soapbox now.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:21 AM   #2
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I've never balanced my checkbook and would have to figure out how to do so if I ever felt the need.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:36 AM   #3
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I was really good at balancing it on the tip of my finger at one time, but we don't use a checkbook any more so I've gotten rusty.

On the other hand, I do hit the 'download statements' button into Quicken and then it auto-balances everything.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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What's a checkbook? I can juggle but I don't see how that helps me with financial matters.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:50 AM   #5
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I use quicken and enter all our transactions by hand, no downloading except for MF and stock prices. But that's because Quicken is a near-obsession for me. I do think that everyone needs to know their inflows and outflows, if only in general terms.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:51 AM   #6
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My husband never did balance his checkbook....he let the bank do it, I guess. I have always balanced mine (Quicken).
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:55 AM   #7
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I've never balanced my checkbook and would have to figure out how to do so if I ever felt the need.
In college - I was poor and always balanced to the penny - once out in the world of work always carried a sufficient reserve.

heh heh heh - most of my life - auto deduct the max to tax deferred vehicles(aka 401k) before it ever reached the checkbook.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:08 AM   #8
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still have checks,so....
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:56 AM   #9
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I use my credit card for everything and pay that bill in full at the end of each month from my checking account - so the balence is easy to monitor. l also like that all purchases can be checked carefully when the CC bill arrives.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:00 PM   #10
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still have checks,so....
I can't be out of money yet...........
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:14 PM   #11
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I also have friends that dont balance their checkbooks. I have one friend that reocrds his checks in his register but he just rounds off to the nearest dollar. This is a guy who is likely to have less than $50 in his account at any point in time.

I, on the other hand, am a number person and like to "run numbers" on every possible scenario, I like to do calculations on whatever....ect. I cant imagine not balancing my checkbook (quicken). I can think of 3 times off the top of my head where my bank made a mistake including one time taking my ex-wifes car payment out of my checking out account (when we still had the same last name and same bank). I wonder how often people have lost money out of their accounts because they werent paying attention.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:24 PM   #12
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Since the vast majority of payments made out of my checking account are via debit card, keeping written note of the rare occasions I write physical checks seems like a fairly inaccurate way of tracking of the money in my account. I don't carry my checkbook around with me.

I keep receipts and I check my bank account online every morning. Works for me.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:33 PM   #13
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i not only balance the checkbook, but primarily use credit cards which i track in my register
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:35 PM   #14
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I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who tell me that they either don’t know how to balance their checkbook or don’t bother to do it. I’ve met very intelligent people with Master’s Degrees who don’t even balance their checkbook. I don’t want to be judgmental (I’m far from perfect), but what does this tell us about the state of Americans? I mean, if they don’t balance their checkbook, how can they ever do other more complicated things like control spending, invest in stocks/mutual funds, or plan for retirement?

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.
For decades I used to balance my checkbook faithfully, but for the past 8-10 years I have paid all of my bills with automatic withdrawals from my bank account, instead of checks. (That is, all except for insurance and property tax, both of which I pay online using my debit card.) With so many deposits and withdrawals occuring online on a daily basis, I don't balance my checkbook any more. I go online first thing every morning and check deposits and withdrawals, and do the math.

I rarely write a check (probably 2-3 times per month or less). I keep outstanding checks and debit card transactions in mind until they pop up online. For me, examining my checking account transactions online and doing the math encompasses all of my transactions, whereas balancing a checking account would not come anywhere near doing that.

Now Frank writes checks for most of his bills, and he balances his checkbook. Makes sense for him.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:36 PM   #15
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I'm probably oldfashioned and a control freak (?), because I balance our checkbook to our checking account. I did Quicken once manually (didn't trust Internet for uploads), but after we had to replace the PC, I decided to stick with a checkbook.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:39 PM   #16
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I look at the checking account every day online.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:43 PM   #17
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I look at the checking account every day online.
I check too in addition to CC accounts.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:45 PM   #18
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I suppose you mean 'track your money' more than you literally mean 'balance your checkbook'.

Here's what we do:

Money is taken out of every paycheck to the 401(k) accounts.

Money is taken out of every paycheck to the emergency savings account

Bills are automatically paid roughly in line with when the paychecks are deposited

Investments are scheduled as bills and are electronically transferred when the paychecks are deposited

Statements are downloaded and reconciled in Quicken every few weeks. Never had an issue with a bank error (knock on wood), and we really only track it to the extent that we can spot-check our budget spreadsheet every 6 months or so.

The budget spreadsheet is very high-level. It doesn't say "we're going to spend x on groceries and y on eating out and and and". Rather, it has high-level categories and focuses on increasing money flowing to our investment accounts. It's pretty sloppy, but it was the compromise between my wife's desire to track detail and my desire to put as much on autopilot as possible. We're very fortunate to be able to not worry about optimizing $100 here or there during the month... we dust that off to a MM when it builds up too much in checking.

edit: and the theme, of course, is that we try and get as much money out of our account before we see it as possible.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:46 PM   #19
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I haven't written a check in months (think 6+) so that wouldn't really be accurate for spending. I do check online multiple times a week both my checking account and my credit card that I pay in full. I keep my running tallies in Xcel because I am cheap and I know how to do formulas in it.
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:24 PM   #20
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I had a college friend who kept a running total in his head; he audited advanced math classes in his free time and tried to teach me how to count cards. It was interesting to watch his face as he calculated math problems in his head.
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