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Do you still maintain a checkbook register?
Old 11-18-2015, 10:26 AM   #1
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Do you still maintain a checkbook register?

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. We write very few checks ... maybe 1 per month.

This was important when we had several checks a month, wrote out checks to merchants, and had no electronic access. Nowadays it seems redundant. I've never caught an error by the bank even when I wasn't just recording their information. The errors were always mine.

I'm considering just dumping the practice and watching the bank's electronic records maybe a little more often. What do others here do? Is this an out of date practice?
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:30 AM   #2
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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%. So I dump excess cash into my MM account. The checkbook register spreadsheet helps me manage that and track my checking account expenses in my expense tracking spreadsheet.

I've only caught one bank error (in my favor) and didn't report it to the bank. So whoever deposited $140 into my account in the middle of nowhere, NC 10-15 years ago, thanks.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:31 AM   #3
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No, I do not maintain a checkbook register. I haven't had the register thingy for years and years. I rarely write checks. Maybe 2 or 3 a year if that... I used to diligently balance the checkbook to a cent - but that was in the 80's... After that, I just made sure the bank statements I got every month looked OK and I kept enough money in the account. As for the recent years, I just look at Mint and make sure withdrawals look OK.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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Checkbooks are maintained in quicken. I mostly use checks with carbon copies, but on the few that don't I write checks in the register, just don't balance them there.

I write very few checks these days.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:34 AM   #5
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Is this an out of date practice?
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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Old 11-18-2015, 10:46 AM   #6
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I still have to write out a monthly check for my condo fee since they don't accept any other form of payment. Since I have to keep my checkbook handy anyway, I go ahead and keep the register updated and balanced. I like numbers and basic math so I enjoy it even though it's not necessary anymore. I check it against my online account to make sure they match--they always do.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:53 AM   #7
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I use quicken to maintain the checking account balance. We write a few checks a month - piano teacher is a weekly check, some medical or dental bills aren't online - so a paper check is needed.

I also have a lot of EFT type transactions - paying the credit card (in full) each month, various utility bills, etc come out of checking. Even though I'm not writing the physical check - I still need to maintain the proper balance.

Oh - and ATM and POS transactions need to be accounted for. I use the ATM at the local grocery store because that way the local school gets a few pennies per month. (Escrip program.) I switched to ATM because escrip stopped crediting credit card transactions.
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:54 AM   #8
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I haven't kept a checkbook register for probably 15 years, give or take five years. Like FUEGO, I keep that info in Excel.

That way I have not only the checks, but the debit card, credit card, automatic bank deductions, and cash purchases all recorded. I balance everything regularly to make sure that all my transactions made it into Excel.

I seldom write checks any more. My regular bills are paid by auto-deduct, and I have done this since 1999.

Frank, on the other hand, likes to pay everything by check and he still keeps a checkbook register and balances his accounts by hand religiously. I think this is pretty much "you say tomato, I say to-mah-to". If your method works and you like it, then it is the right one for you.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:00 AM   #9
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I use Quicken to track checking. We write very few checks, but credit card bill pay, deposits, and transfers all come through our joint checking account.

We have a few budget categories that we watch: groceries, eating out, auto fuel, entertainment, and the big catch all of shopping. We watch those in Mint, Quicken is difficult to share on separate PCs.

I do most of the tracking, but I try to keep DW involved. I check Mint daily, Quicken usually on Friday evening. We try to use point paying credit cards for all purchases over $10. As a rule, DW always pays, so I can say "What the hell is this?"

We each have our own checking account with small balances. Mine is actually tracked within the main joint checking account. I have access to DWs account, but I never look at it.

Works for us........
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:02 AM   #10
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I also use an excel worksheet as our register.

Each year I copy the prior year's transactions, add 365 days to the date, delete the outliers and highlight the next years transactions in yellow. It allows me to project the cash needs throughout the coming year. The sheet provides 10 years of household expenses and was used for our retirement planning.

When I enter a transaction I check the date, adjust the amount and remove the highlight. I reconcile the sheet to each monthly statement.

I still use the paper check register to only record the written checks, not to carry the account balance. The checks are also entered on the excel sheet.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:05 AM   #11
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I kept my checkbook register in excel for several years, then Quicken for the last 2 years. All from Data downloads about once every 2 weeks.i don't check the math, but I review deposits, eft's and checks to make sure that it makes sense.


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Old 11-18-2015, 11:06 AM   #12
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I haven't kept a checkbook register for probably 15 years, give or take five years. Like FUEGO, I keep that info in Excel.

That way I have not only the checks, but the debit card, credit card, automatic bank deductions, and cash purchases all recorded. I balance everything regularly to make sure that all my transactions made it into Excel.

I seldom write checks any more. My regular bills are paid by auto-deduct, and I have done this since 1999.

Frank, on the other hand, likes to pay everything by check and he still keeps a checkbook register and balances his accounts by hand religiously. I think this is pretty much "you say tomato, I say to-mah-to". If your method works and you like it, then it is the right one for you.
I am with Frank (But don't pay everything by check)--I keep a paper checkbook and balance it every week or so. I think of doing the math as a brain activity like doing a crossword puzzle or sudoku--unnecessary but perhaps a good way to exercise the brain. I actually like doing it.

Even worse, we don't keep spreadsheets of anything (we have a very simple financial life). I know, I know, but not changing now. We recently told someone in her early 40s we had to go through the checkbook to find something and we could tell she thought we were stark raving nuts.

Not sure what method our adult kids do--unlike DH and me, they both have jobs that involve numbers and spreadsheets so I am pretty sure they think checkbooks are like rotary dial phones.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:06 AM   #13
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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.

A big +1


However, I do keep track of my spending and download the data into a workbook to show where money was spent...


As someone else mentioned, I have only had one error in all my years and it was a check processed through my account... you could easily see it was not mine as it had someone else's name, address and account number on it...

Now, I have called to have them reverse some fees they tried to charge me they should not have.... but a register would not have helped with that...
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:08 AM   #14
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I use Quicken. And my checks have carbon copies. If I physically write a check, I feel like a caveman and just enter it in Quicken when I get a chance. I write 1 a month, it used to be 25+. I do on-line banking more.

I reconcile my bank statements every month.

Very few of my tenants write many checks. I get the rent checks each month with only one or two numbers difference.

I have caught a bank error. Once they made the deposit to the wrong account. I was depositing a renters check, and they pulled the money from that account right away as it was the same bank. Unfortunately, they also put that check, and a couple of others, into that same incorrect account.

I caught the error the next day. I looked at the deposit slip. It had the wrong account on it. Luckily, the money was still in the tenants account...
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:10 AM   #15
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I use YNAB (You Need a Budget) so have a register for all my accounts. I maintain it on a daily basis. Most transactions from the checking account are transfers to pay other accounts. When writing physical checks (1 or 2 a month usually) we use a check book that makes a carbon copy.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:10 AM   #16
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We write each check (check#, date, pay to, amount) in the paper register, but don't keep a running balance nor do we record deposits. I use Microsoft Money to keep track of where we are, enter check transactions every couple of weeks and all deposits. And for balancing with the bank. Seldom ever concerned whether have sufficient funds, do take a peak at the online balance about twice a week when I access the bank to process bill payments.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:11 AM   #17
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Yep. Checkbook balanced every month. But I do cheat a little as along with a pen and calculator, I use a checkbook balancing spreadsheet to help with the balancing.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:18 AM   #18
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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.
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. Overdraft protection does help though.

Like some others here, I use a spreadsheet. I don't carry my checkbook, but instead keep a check or two in my wallet. I hadn't thought of putting it on the cloud. Maybe that's a good idea, but on the rare occasion where I have to write a check away from home I could just put a reminder in my calendar to check my balance. Besides, I tend to keep a large balance since interest rates are so low. If I lose 0.10% on $10,000, that's $10/year. If rates go up, I'll manage it more.
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:23 AM   #19
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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.
For some of us, writing a check for $1000 is a significant enough event that we definitely don't forget!
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:35 AM   #20
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Quicken user here. All checks, electronic payments and ATM withdrawals are recorded and reconciled with monthly bank statements.
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