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Old 11-18-2015, 11:37 AM   #21
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I guess I am old fashioned. Pay my bills all on line or they are on auto pay. I keep a check book register (it is my spread sheet). I accrue for annual and bi annual bills in it. I write all my credit card purchases (subtract like a check from running balance) etc in it. That way I always have my current balance.

The on line balance does not have all the current transactions subtracted (like my credit card transactions) until the total amount automatically comes out when the credit card is paid in full. We pay everything with a rewards credit card if possible. Works for me.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:41 AM   #22
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For some of us, writing a check for $1000 is a significant enough event that we definitely don't forget!
Some of us have experienced more of the mental ravages of age than you have, though. Even though it would be a significant event in my life, I'd forget a $1000 check in a heartbeat if given half a chance! But if I did, it would show up when I check my bank account online.

To cover things until it shows up, I keep several thousand more than I could possibly envision needing right away in my checking account. It's not like it would earn any more interest in savings, and I like to keep my entire year's spending money at my local bricks-n-mortar bank so there it is.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:43 AM   #23
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haven't in 20 years, solely used quicken. still have the same checkbook from 20 years ago and still writing on the original 150 checks. My credit union was an early adopter of online banking and my "checks" are written direct from the account.. maybe wrote a handful physically over the last 5 years.. use it only in case of emergencies .. or guilt.. think the last 3 were guilt as neighbor kids selling something or another for school and the only option was check.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:44 AM   #24
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Some of us have experienced more of the mental ravages of age than you have, though. Even though it would be a significant event in my life, I'd forget a $1000 check in a heartbeat if given half a chance! But if I did, it would show up when I check my bank account online.

You are not the only one...I still use my register. However instead of the formal process of balancing, I cheat and compare to online balances.


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Old 11-18-2015, 11:48 AM   #25
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We still write lots of checks. I don't balance the checking account anymore, it's easier to monitor all the activity online, but the register is a handy way to look for specific transactions and payment dates.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:01 PM   #26
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OK, let's try this reasoning: I set up quarterly estimated tax payments for both state and federal to be drafted out of my checking account. They are pretty substantial because I do Roth conversions. I put all of them in my spreadsheet, with gaps to fill in the time in between, so that I'll make sure I have funds to cover them. You may say you won't forget, but real quick, what are the 4 dates? Hint: they aren't all 3 months apart.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:02 PM   #27
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Yep. It passed into obscurity during the Clinton administration.

The ability to monitor account activity online made balancing your checkbook an unnecessary task.
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I don't quite agree. If I forget that I recently wrote a $1000 check and it hasn't cleared yet, monitoring my online account to see that I have enough to write a new check without covering it doesn't work. ...
I agree with REWahoo. And I don't keep a spreadsheet, but I do just keep a paper note by my computer, with the round number balance, and I jot down any planned debits/credits, including any big outstanding checks (we rarely write checks, most things are auto-debit to account or CC).

Now here's a feature I'm surprised no modern online account offers (at least none that I'm aware of): If I write that $1000 check, I should be able to enter the check# and amount online, and have that automatically debited from my 'available funds'. When it clears, the system should recognize that it was already entered (same check number) and not 'double-debit' it. Wouldn't that be convenient? You could do the same for any auto-payment, say 30 days out, with some similar reference # system? Especially convenient if you are set up to get an email/text when 'available funds' drop below $X.

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Old 11-18-2015, 12:09 PM   #28
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We record everything twice.

My wife likes the paper register in the checkbook. I like Quicken.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:09 PM   #29
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I think there are 2 separate issues here. It seems like a lot of people (including me) use a spreadsheet or Quicken to track their checking account instead of the old fashioned paper register......

But other people seem to be saying they dont keep track at all because they trust the bank to do it and they just look online to see what their balance is? I admit its been a long long time since I found a bank mistake but are people really just not keeping track on their own at all?
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:19 PM   #30
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OK, let's try this reasoning: I set up quarterly estimated tax payments for both state and federal to be drafted out of my checking account. They are pretty substantial because I do Roth conversions. I put all of them in my spreadsheet, with gaps to fill in the time in between, so that I'll make sure I have funds to cover them. You may say you won't forget, but real quick, what are the 4 dates? Hint: they aren't all 3 months apart.
What, April, June, September, and January? So true.

I always keep at least enough in checking to cover my quarterly estimated tax payments at all times. Now this would be a problem if interest rates were what they were in the mid 1990's. But frankly they aren't, and the interest lost from doing this isn't enough to affect my happiness in retirement.


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I think there are 2 separate issues here. It seems like a lot of people (including me) use a spreadsheet or Quicken to track their checking account instead of the old fashioned paper register......

But other people seem to be saying they dont keep track at all because they trust the bank to do it and they just look online to see what their balance is? I admit its been a long long time since I found a bank mistake but are people really just not keeping track on their own at all?
No, I don't think so. At least, I didn't interpret anyone's posts here as saying that is what they do.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:22 PM   #31
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I maintain a checking register in software, and reconcile it every few weeks with the bank records. I find about 1 error per year, generally a keypad error such as a '2' being entered instead of a '0'. This happens with ATM and 'phone deposits, mostly.

The bank records will happily report a check as being for $302.00 the depositor entered rather than the $300.00 that I wrote. Reconciling the accounts flags these errors, and I can easily correct them by messaging the bank and having them manually check the check image.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:23 PM   #32
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But other people seem to be saying they dont keep track at all because they trust the bank to do it and they just look online to see what their balance is? I admit its been a long long time since I found a bank mistake but are people really just not keeping track on their own at all?
Looks to me like everyone is keeping track, using different methods.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:35 PM   #33
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I maintain a checking register in software, and reconcile it every few weeks with the bank records. I find about 1 error per year, generally a keypad error such as a '2' being entered instead of a '0'. This happens with ATM and 'phone deposits, mostly.

The bank records will happily report a check as being for $302.00 the depositor entered rather than the $300.00 that I wrote. Reconciling the accounts flags these errors, and I can easily correct them by messaging the bank and having them manually check the check image.
I used to see errors in my checking account at a local bank in Meridian, Mississippi, back in 1975. Then I moved away and no longer use that bank.

Despite keeping track just as assiduously since, I haven't detected a single error in the past 40 years. I presume my present bank is doublechecking by using available technology. It probably helps that my handwriting on checks (though nowhere else) is utterly exemplary. Thank you, Mrs. Tuttle, 3rd grade teacher who tortured me with Palmer handwriting practice books. In my deep gratitude I called her "Mrs Turtle" behind her back.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:52 PM   #34
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It probably helps that my handwriting on checks (though nowhere else) is utterly exemplary.
I continue to try to write the amount in cursive. I get half way through and have to think about how to make the letters and sometimes realize I've messed up. I think someone once told me it was harder to alter, but I'm going to switch to printing it. The only thing I can do in cursive anymore is my signature, and even that isn't perfect, though it is consistent.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:54 PM   #35
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I have an Excel spreadsheet that no one else would ever be able to live with. I keep two running balances. One is the balance per the bank, and the other is the spendable balance. The difference is the sum of a lot of "virtual" accounts, including some set up for mortgage and property taxes, a charitable account, money we're holding aside for major household repairs, etc. When I pay our property taxes, for example, I reduce the mortgage and property tax account by that much. These virtual accounts allow me to save for irregular expenses (out-of-pocket medical is another bucket) so it's no shock to our budget when they come through.

I used to painstakingly track down the source of any error with the bank, but now if it's less than $50 one way or the other I just adjust my balance to what the bank shows.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:58 PM   #36
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Now here's a feature I'm surprised no modern online account offers (at least none that I'm aware of): If I write that $1000 check, I should be able to enter the check# and amount online, and have that automatically debited from my 'available funds'. When it clears, the system should recognize that it was already entered (same check number) and not 'double-debit' it. Wouldn't that be convenient?
Mint.com pretty much does that.

Start with $2000 in the checking account.

Write the check. Enter it into mint as a check transaction giving the check number and amount.

Mint now reflects $2000 in your account and $1000 available.

Later, the check clears. Mint matches this up with the above transaction. It now shows $1000 in your account and $1000 available.

And to answer the OP, we (obviously) use mint to track our checking accounts and never keep a check register outside of mint.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:58 PM   #37
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Back in the 80s and early 90s, I reconciled our spreadsheet check register to bank statements every month. Late 90s through ~2004, did the same with Quicken. The primary issue back then was keeping track of "outstanding" checks, since we wrote 30+ every month. My entire adult life, I've only seen 1 bank error. Once we stopped writing checks, the idea of maintaining redundant manual records just for the twice-per-century bank error seemed like a complete waste of time. Anything big, we're going to catch anyway just by reviewing daily transactions online.

Our checking account (actually a CMA at Fidelity) has very few transactions... direct deposits, EFTs, a few bills-pays, that's it. Everything else goes through a cash-back credit card, including most recurring bills. We monitor all transactions in all accounts using Fidelity Full-View on a daily basis. Anything I don't recognize is immediately validated by DW.
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Old 11-18-2015, 01:02 PM   #38
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I've been keeping our checkbook register updated once or twice a month out of habit. Usually now I just log into the checking account and copy that info into the register. And it is amazing but my checkbook is always balanced that way.
Yes, I'm always amazed mine is too . I see the balancing act as composed of 2 components........keeping track of the math and keeping track of the transactions. I would bet that computers can add/subtract better than me so I would not track if only the math were involved. Keeping track of the transactions is somewhat different. If you have a good memory you probably don't have to worry about this........but I would be concerned about transactions that are still outstanding because checks haven't been cashed yet or if transactions vary from month to month ,either in amount or frequency.
I have seen people sit on checks for months and if I didn't track those and kept funds at minimum in account, I could run the risk of the account going negative.......or paying interest on overdraft line of credit.

If you have multiple credit cards,for example, it would seem to be difficult to know what those should be exactly from memory, so somewhere there should be some tracking of the actual transaction charge vs the expected .
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Old 11-18-2015, 01:39 PM   #39
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....
Despite keeping track just as assiduously since, I haven't detected a single error in the past 40 years. I presume my present bank is doublechecking by using available technology. It probably helps that my handwriting on checks (though nowhere else) is utterly exemplary. ....
My handwriting is absurd. Even my signature changes pretty dramatically. Still, no matter the scrawl, deeds still transfer and the bank keeps cashing our checks. We have used Quicken for decades for all check/ACH/wire transfers or deposits, all credit card transactions, all savings.. Only reason anything isn't entered on the date of transaction is if we are on the road and then they are entered no later than the day after we get back. Makes cunning Christmas shopping very difficult.
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Old 11-18-2015, 02:05 PM   #40
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Proud member of the checkbook luddite club.

Although I do have electronic access to accounts. I still write checks for most bills.
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