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Old 11-19-2015, 12:56 AM   #61
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It's too easy to maintain a balance in the register to not do it. Very close to zero time. You have the check book and pen in your hands anyway. After writing the check, you just add the check number and the amount to the register. 5 secs? 10 secs? Max.

When I grab the checkbook while dashing out of the house, not having used it in weeks and knowing DW has likely written some checks, I don't ever want to have to stop and go to the office, boot the computer and open a spreadsheet to know how much is in the account. Or go to the bank web site. The number should be right there in the register, especially since it's near zero time and effort to have it there.
For your system to work, both you and DW must be consistent and accurate in your recordings. If it works for you, fine. But it wouldn't work for everyone.
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Old 11-19-2015, 01:30 AM   #62
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I don't write paper checks any more (with the very, very occasional exception) but I still keep a checkbook register, with details of all deposits and withdrawals from my checking account. It's easy. I like pen and paper and for me, it's easier than it would be to do the same thing in Quicken, Excel, or something else on the computer.
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Old 11-19-2015, 02:52 AM   #63
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I don't write paper checks any more (with the very, very occasional exception) but I still keep a checkbook register, with details of all deposits and withdrawals from my checking account. It's easy. I like pen and paper and for me, it's easier than it would be to do the same thing in Quicken, Excel, or something else on the computer.
Do you have any standing orders? Automatic debits? If you do, presumably you need to look them up online in order to enter them accurately in your cheque book register.
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Old 11-19-2015, 02:54 AM   #64
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For your system to work, both you and DW must be consistent and accurate in your recordings. If it works for you, fine. But it wouldn't work for everyone.
It's been working like a charm for decades. We don't write many checks anymore, but when either of us does we quickly record it in the register as a courtesy to the other.
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Old 11-19-2015, 03:00 AM   #65
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Do you have any standing orders? Automatic debits? If you do, presumably you need to look them up online in order to enter them accurately in your cheque book register.
I avoid automatic debits as much as possible, as I prefer to retain control over paying my bills (it's just a "thing" I have). However, my internet service provider requires automatic payment, so I have them signed up via a credit card, which they deduct the bill from every month. I don't have any automatic debits/standing orders linked to my checking account though.
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Old 11-19-2015, 04:51 AM   #66
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We have a master spreadsheet for all transactions but we also have a check register for the rare physical check. The bank will present an image of the check upon online request. It also prints an image on our ATM deposit receipt.
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Old 11-19-2015, 05:10 AM   #67
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I haven't updated a checkbook register in over a decade. First, most of our recurring bills are automatically paid. Secondly, just about everything else is put on the credit card and payed off monthly. Those two items mean that there are only a few line items withdrawn from the checking account monthly (plus a couple of ATM transactions). Before that, I hadn't seen an error on the bank's side in well over a decade before that.


It means mainly concentrating on the credit card statement instead of the checking account statement.


Everything is entered into a spreadsheet monthly to check against budget, however.
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Old 11-19-2015, 05:46 AM   #68
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It's too easy to maintain a balance in the register to not do it. Very close to zero time. You have the check book and pen in your hands anyway. After writing the check, you just add the check number and the amount to the register. 5 secs? 10 secs? Max.

When I grab the checkbook while dashing out of the house, not having used it in weeks and knowing DW has likely written some checks, I don't ever want to have to stop and go to the office, boot the computer and open a spreadsheet to know how much is in the account. Or go to the bank web site. The number should be right there in the register, especially since it's near zero time and effort to have it there.
When 90+% of your banking is electronic, and you handwrite maybe one check every two months, the checkbook register is useless. I'd have to enter every electronic transaction by hand in the checkbook register to track the balance that way - duplicating what is already in Quicken and can be viewed online from my bank.

Most of our banking transactions are recurring monthly bills which Quicken anticipates for me by automatically scheduling the transactions. At most I have to modify the monthly amount for some bills.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:33 AM   #69
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We use Quicken to record, track and reconcile Checking, Credit Card, Savings and Investment Accounts.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:12 AM   #70
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I don't; and I don't download things into a spreadsheet or Quicken either. I just look online every few days.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:20 AM   #71
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I do, just from habit. It's the same every month, 3 direct deposits, one auto pay to credit card.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:25 AM   #72
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... And no, we do not have rotary phones. ...
We actually have kept one as a backup if electric lines are down! (Highly unlikely that it would work when neither electric nor cell phones won't, but better safe than sorry for DW when on call.)

On the check register, I don't remember when we kept keeping a running balance in it--10 years? Or 20? Like several others, we use Quicken, with daily transaction downloads and cloud backup.

On the occasional check that DW writes, she will record it in the register and put the register by my keyboard for entry. To keep things easy, I also write down the few checks that I write, just so we are consistent.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:29 AM   #73
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It's too easy to maintain a balance in the register to not do it. Very close to zero time. You have the check book and pen in your hands anyway. After writing the check, you just add the check number and the amount to the register. 5 secs? 10 secs? Max.

When I grab the checkbook while dashing out of the house, not having used it in weeks and knowing DW has likely written some checks, I don't ever want to have to stop and go to the office, boot the computer and open a spreadsheet to know how much is in the account. Or go to the bank web site. The number should be right there in the register, especially since it's near zero time and effort to have it there.
We jot down check information in the register, but only to record it later in Fidelity Full-View. There's no attempt to maintain a current balance in the checkbook. Haven't done that in over 20 years. We only write about 10 checks per year. So IMO it would be a waste of time to manually transcribe the other 95% of our checking transactions into the register.

Our "transaction register" (if you want to call it that) is Fidelity Full-View. I look at it almost every day to monitor and validate transactions and balances for all our accounts... credit cards, savings, checking, and investment accounts. On the rare occasion that we write a check, I manually record it in Full-View and when it clears, the two entries are automatically merged.

The vast majority of our transactions are on cash-back credit cards. By contrast, the checking account has very few transactions, and 95% of those are automatic deposits, EFTs, a few bill-pays, and the occasional ATM withdrawal. Checks are really a non-issue. So our record-keeping process is no longer centered around the checkbook. Your method made sense 20+ years ago when: (a) most of our transactions were conducted through the checkbook, and (b) more efficient software and online tools were not yet available.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:58 AM   #74
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Our bank maintains the register for us and we can review it anytime via a computer in our pocket.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:16 AM   #75
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I don't; and I don't download things into a spreadsheet or Quicken either. I just look online every few days.
This is probably what we would do if someone pried our paper checkbook from our cold dead hands.
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:17 AM   #76
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I use the same process in Quicken except that I manually enter all transactions and manually reconcile the monthly bank statements including credit cards.

I could download the CC and bank statements but I actually enjoy the manual process.

I rely on the cash flow report as well as other available reports in Quicken for spending analysis.
+1

The Quicken calendar feature has been my virtual FA for many years, makes tracking and planning recurring bills and/or one time major expenses quite visible. It is my "goto" screen for near-term financial planning. I also use an elaborate spreadsheet that reads the text output from a 5+ year Quicken income/expense report, that data then tracks my budget plan. I know Quicken can also do budgeting, but I like knowing where all the numbers came from and what they do under the hood. That same spreadsheet also applies that same data plus investment accounts, life insurance cash value, SS estimates, pensions, etc. to my long-term planning.

Paper based checking register was abandoned long ago, although I've got some going back a few decades filed away yet. Rarely write paper checks anymore, maybe half a dozen or so a year. Credit Union bill payer being used for most recurring bills, all but a handful of vendors/providers accept ETF payments. The ones that only accept paper are scheduled for delivery with a two-day cushion, ETF's are scheduled for due date payment, or last possible business day if due date is on a weekend/holiday (that tightwad practice has probably netted me $0.01 more interest this year).
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Old 11-19-2015, 09:27 AM   #77
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Banks are not infallible.

I recall looking at my online banking manager and noticing the amount differed from my excel register.

A check amount had been transposed buy the bank. I looked at the check facsimile and I had clearly written the amount. I suspect the payee, a local garage that banks at the same branch, had transposed the amount on their deposit slip.

I called the branch and the amount was immediately corrected.

The amount was not huge but I wonder how large it would need to be for me to notice without using the excel check register.

"Trust but verify." - Ronald Reagan
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Old 11-19-2015, 10:22 AM   #78
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There's a trick to spotting transposing errors. If the difference is divisible by 9, it's likely that someone transposed numbers. 23 instead of 32 is a difference of 9. 74 instead of 47 is a difference of 27. Usually I found that I was the one who made the error.

Back when I did keep a register and balanced it monthly, I often found errors, usually mine. I used to track them down diligently. In the last couple of years though, if I was within a dollar or so, I'd just make a corrective entry called "To balance" and add or subtract the amount. It wasn't worth my time to track down a subtraction error or mis-writing a number (me or whoever cashed my check). It was quite a step, because I'm usually very thorough, especially with numbers.

I still balance it in my spreadsheet, every week or so when I enter my electronic transactions and check the balance. Between writing fewer checks and letting the spreadsheet do the math, I rarely find errors, and can track them down more quickly. It's usually mis-typing a number. So far I haven't had to resort to a ghost transaction to bring it into balance.
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Old 11-19-2015, 10:47 AM   #79
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I write two checks a month and everything else is paid with online bill pay or credit card. On the first of each month I transfer an amount into my checking account to bring it up to my estimated monthly spending amount plus a 25% cushion. I check all transactions daily letting my thumb do the logging in on my phone. I pay my credit cards at the same time, using my bank's bill pay. The only mistake I've ever found was from my horrible printing due to arthritis and was misread by the bank, which is why I try not to write checks anymore.


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Old 11-19-2015, 11:24 AM   #80
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I have a spreadsheet for a checkbook register. It's in the cloud so accessible anywhere I have internet (from phone or computer). I try to keep just a few hundred bucks in the account to cover debit card transactions, since the account only pays 0.25%...
My wife uses a similar spreadsheet. She's in charge of making all monthly payments. I am in charge of replenishing the checking account, and I do that by monitoring the balance via Quicken.
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