Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I LOVE to Balance my Checkbook

It is a morning ritual for me.  I get the kids' breakfast, and sit down to do some "work."  "Work" is check my e-mail, look at the Rare of the Day on Webkinz, see who has posted on Blogger, oh....and balance my checkbook.  (I have now added Pinterest....my new fav....to my workload.  ;) )  Ok, I probably only balance it 4 times a week....usually after I have paid a bunch of bills or had alot of transactions.  But I look at it daily.

My method....I check off items as they clear, and put a circle next to the ones that haven't.  That way, I can easily see what I need to add back in when I balance the register (yes....I use a paper register and LOVE it).  Once I finish all the math, and it balances, I draw a line under the current "balance" that my register shows.  That way, if I run into a problem, I know where I was the last time I balanced it....so I don't need to go back any further.  I use my debit card for everything, so while it is called a checkbook....there are few checks.  Mostly co-pays at the doctor, and lunch for the kids at school for the week.  But all the transfers, gas, groceries, etc....all in there.

I probably spend about 5 minutes doing this.

As I went through my ritual this morning, I discovered that I entered a check twice!  Not a huge deal, I added back in the extra entry, and made a note of it.  In essence, I found $20!!!

If I didn't actually do this work, I wouldn't know I short changed myself.  I know alot of people just look at the balance that the bank gives them, and estimate that it is right....or just look at it and say, ok...I have $200, and never think of the $300 in outstanding entries, that will cause them to overdraft.

Knowing my check book is balanced at the start of my day helps me function.  I know how much I have.  Period.  If for some reason I can't do it (such as going into work really early for something), I think about it all day.  I am a geek.  I know it.  But I do.

But it makes me happy, it is for the overall good, and I am going to keep doing it!!!  How about you.....do you balance your checkbook???


  1. I actually don't balance my checkbook. I think the last time I did was in the summer of 2008. It started out as laziness, but now I don't have to because my bank does it for me. On the rare occasion I actually write a check, I can enter it in online banking and the amount is taken out of my free balance until the check clears. I also get a text if my balance drops below a certain amount - I'm approaching the year mark since my last overdraft. Hooray!

    When I did keep a paper register, I used a similar system to yours to keep my balance organized. I made full use of those little columns to code my transactions and check them off as they cleared. It was just SO time consuming!

  2. I do balance my checkbook and like you I do still use a paper register as well! :) I make sure I have all the transactions written down at least 2-3 times a week, especially since hubby likes to stop at the gas station for a snack and doesn't tell me.... I pay bills every Friday or Saturday so if I haven't had time I reconcile it by then. Once a month I balance with my bank statement and then mark it in my register that I have balanced it with the date I balanced it on. I have to know how much money we have and when we are very low. It is just something that I have to do.

  3. Very cool! I log in to my bank every morning and make sure things look OK but I don't 'balance' the account... I have a separate account for check writing so I just move money there whenever we write checks which is very rare these days...


  4. While I don't use a paper register, I do track every penny I spend using a detailed Excel workbook. Over the past 6 years, I've built it up to include formulas & macros that auto-populate debt payoff dates, savings & retirement balances, $$ leftover for miscellaneous spending, etc. I'm like you in that keeping such meticulous tabs on my finances makes me very happy!

    On a side note, I just want to offer a bit of support and encouragement after reading your recent posts. I've been reading your blog for a while now, but I don't post often (shameful, I know). While my financial situation has changed drastically over the past 6 years, I once had $1 to my name and couldn't even pay my rent, so I know what you're going through.

    What I also know is that things do change and debt does get paid off. Keep your head up and keep pushing forward. No matter how long it takes, you WILL get to where you want to be because you're the one that controls your ultimate financial destiny, no matter what life throws your way. I would have never believed these things myself even a few years ago, but now I live in this mindset daily.

    Best of luck to you!

  5. I LOVE balancing my checkbook too!! we can be dorks together : )

    Although I only use checks to pay our landlord rent. And my checkbook is actually an 89 cent notebook from Staples. But I love it.

  6. I hate to balance the checkbooks, I do it but only to make sure I don't overdraw. I just am not very disciplined this way!

  7. I don't balance my checkbook. I check my online accounts daily though.

  8. I check my online account and check off all the checks and deposits and make sure I am in balance. I generally do it once a month.

  9. I check things out about once a week. If I had a lot of expenditures, I'll balance more than that. But I'm a creature of habit: I spend most of it the day I get paid and record it all then.

  10. I wanna follow you on pinterest! That is my new thing too:)