Do You Still Balance Your *Checkbook*?

Updated on August 13, 2014
C.. asks from Columbia, MO
26 answers

Ok - so we have online banking, like everyone else. We have a consolidated loan for our credit and my student loan bills. We "try" to stick to a basic budget, when we can. We use our debit card for practicallly everything - most are other bills (phone, utilities etc) are auto-debited and the amounts are generally the same each month.

I used to be one of those "balance the checkbook to the penny each month" kind of people. But lately - we have such a set/fixed amount of money (and it's not much lol) that I just "know" how much I can spend each month and I dont' go over. But it's been probably a year since I've actually "reconciled" anything. I guess I just assume that walmart and McDonalds [ :-( ] don't overcharge me and my receipt will be the same as what is deducted from my bank account.

However, I've been keeping ALL my receipts. Like every single one in a big box. C.R.A.Z.Y. I started a month ago only keeping the receipts if I thought there was something I might need to return and I started throwing out receipts from grocery store / gas / restaurants etc.

We foster, so I have to keep organized records for each kid - but for my other stuff...... it's kind of disorganized at this point. There has to be a better system - what do you mamas keep (and for how long) and where do you keep it? what do you do "monthly"? etc.


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answers from Baton Rouge on

No. I track my account online almost daily ever since I had my identity stolen several years ago. I know within a few dollars how much money I have.
I only keep receipts for things that have warranties or are tax deductible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Never have. I'm 50.
Hubby? He was a "balance to the penny" kind of guy and even he's letting his hair down a bit these days!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Nope, after years of pulling out my hair to get it to balance, when the bank always had more money, I stopped. My life is so much better, and the bank still always has more money than my money program I use.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

I'm sort of old school and I blame it on my mom, in part. She's a retired home ec teacher, and part of what she taught her students was how to set up a checking account and balance a check book, and other financial issues. So, of course, when I started earning money through babysitting and odd jobs, she taught me all the lessons she taught her students. She followed through by sitting me down once a week and making sure I balanced my checkbook and there were no mistakes. To this day, I balance my checkbook every week, and I'm glad I know how.

As a funny little side note, Mom called all of her children once a week to remind them to do their weekly checkbook duties. Gotta love her for that!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yup, I balance our checkbook and keep it to the penny. That's how I know how much money we actually have. I think I'm kind of old and set in my ways, too.

I keep all receipts, and check them against the credit card bills monthly, then toss them. The credit card bills serve as a record of what you purchased.

Fostering takes a lot of paperwork, so I'm sure you are required to keep and submit receipts for that, but isn't that monthly? Aren't you rid of the receipts once you submit your paperwork?

We don't itemize on our taxes, so that's probably why I don't need to keep receipts. If I had to, I would organize them monthly so they didn't pile up.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes I do. I balance our personal checking at least once a week and reconcile to the penny.

I am online daily with our personal and business accounts. I reconcile everything to the penny. My CPA would rip me a new one if I didn't have everything to the penny, especially with business accounts! It is too important not to do it.

As for records, I work from home and I have 2 large filing cabinets. 1 drawer is dedicated to personal and the others are customers, vendors, tax records, etc.

I only have my daughter, hubby and myself but I have separate files for each of us for personal items. I have separate files for health each year, separate files for our cars, phones, computers. As for insurance, all of the car, house, riders, condo, etc are kept in the same file and old papers are discarded as we renew a policy. I keep a file on investments, utilities, banking and items we need for filing taxes both personal and business (separated for company taxes and personal taxes).

Monthly, I reconcile via QuickBooks and my bank for all business accounts when I get my monthly statement. Like I said, I am also online daily with personal and business accounts.

I also manage the credit card online daily as well. We pay it in full each month but we run a lot of business expenses through it and I check it thoroughly and daily for charges that are not legit. Our card has been picked up more than once and used for fraud. I stay on top of that by checking daily and I have caught fraudulent charges and reported them in time to have no damages.

I am a bit OCD on my organization but that is ok. If my CPA asks for a receipt from 10 yrs ago, I can more than likely provide it within 10 minutes. I do not keep receipts from grocery and gas. I do process expense reports weekly and I use the original receipts for those. Hubby and daughter know to have all receipts for expenses to be reimbursed to me by Sunday night and I process the reimbursements on Monday, every week.

A lot of my business and personal paperwork is combined as far as organization because it is all in my office.

ETA: JC : yes mistakes happen and often. Just 2 weeks ago a newer teller that did not know me ( I am also inside the bank daily with deposits) ran 2 deposits for my business in excess of $50,000 as a personal deposit vs a business deposit. If I were not checking my accounts daily... I would not have caught that error which in turn made the funds on hold for 5 days which in turn if I had not been on top of my business, I might have written a check in those funds. However, due to mistakes that can happen, I never ever write a check on my business account ( or other accounts) unless I am aware that all collected funds are readily available for me. Basic accounting practices which are used with both personal and all business accounts.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

uuumm...yes...i can't imagine NOT doing this!

I keep the receipts until I have reconciled by account - to ensure I was charged properly - or my check was read completely - yes, I still write checks...not that often, but I do.

I have a file for items that have a warranty on them or large purchases (TV, computer, furniture).

Then the rest is thrown out AFTER it is checked as cleared. I write what I use my debit card for - just like I would write a check. And when I reconcile, I verify that it cleared for that amount.

I would go NUTS if I didn't do this!! McDonald's is a waste of money - sorry. And if they charge you wrong? It's too late to have them fix it. You need to address that IMMEDIATELY!! Yes, my family has McD's...but NOT weekly!! Not that that's what you said - but if they did charge you wrong - you're screwed. To be honest, I find it financially irresponsible that you don't and "guess" what you can spend. Start planning your weeks out and save money and use coupons. I know this isn't the point of your post - but girl - really. You are wasting can get food from the store for less than it costs to feed a family at McDs!!! And have BETTER and HEALTHIER food!!

If you aren't going to balance your checkbook? Transfer over funds that you "guess" you can use to a pre-paid/reloadable card and not worry about it.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We do it about once a week so we don't miss anything. We write things down (we use an app called Mvelopes) daily. We also are crazy about being right down to the penny. We have a very strict budget that we stick with too for every thing including things like clothing, eating out, toiletries, hair cuts, groceries, kids allowance, AND all of our utilities and bills even if they are automatic payments. We have to know where every penny goes and we have a place for every penny.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I do because I want to make sure everything charges correctly and I need to know when checks cash.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Since I am old school, AND since I still actually do write a few checks... yes, I do. It would be negligent if I didn't. Otherwise, a check for some school expense might show up a month late and I'd have forgotten it was still floating around out there. Just Friday I got an email from a coach that he'd just come across a check I wrote for a summer camp (back in June) this week.

I tend to check my account online to verify that the receipts match up with the actual charges within a day or so (most items go on a credit card). I pay the credit card in full every month. I also need to watch for things like FSA reimbursements (to make sure they come through).

It's partly habit, and partly that old fashioned side of me that says, "but what if the internet goes down ...?"
I tend to not access my financial accounts anywhere but from my home computer. I don't like carrying memory of those accounts around in my phone or on my tablet, or using wifi that may not be secure to access them.

But yes, I not only HAVE a checkbook (interesting that you seem to be implying that nobody has them anymore the way you titled your post, lol), but I balance it at least monthly, against the paper statement, and I "check" it online for discrepancies at least weekly.

As for my receipts? Well, I put them in a big garbage bag after they've cleared (either bank account, or credit card), and if I don't think I'll need the receipt for a return, or warranty issue later on (major purchases), then I save them to eventually burn them. Shredding is way too tedious. So whenever I burn the yard debris next, I'll throw a heap of receipts on the fire as well. I would never just throw them into the trash.

When I actually incur the charges, I put the receipt into my wallet with my cash. Then every few days I sort out what is credit and what was bank account debit transactions, and deal with them accordingly.
Oh, as for those major purchase item receipts, those I staple into the front cover of the product manuel. It's come in handy more than you'd think. It even helps me know where to go for replacement parts (which store) or filters or whatever.

- For JC
It isn't just to watch for mistakes. But also to know how much money you have to spend. I never trust what the bank says the balance is. Not because it isn't correct AT THAT MOMENT, but because other transactions may not have cleared yet. Those checks don't clear instantly, and not all checks are processed digitally-some are still processed the old school way. Checks I write to my kids' school sometimes take weeks to process/clear. If I just look at what the banks says I have, it will show a lot more than will be there when those random checks clear...
And things like gas... they don't always appear right away in the right amounts. I use a credit card to pay at the pump, so maybe it is different if you use a debit card, but I know that if I charge gas at the pump, it will read "$1.00" or something sometimes for a day or two before the actual amount is charged to my account. When a fill up costs over $60, and there are 3 cars getting filled up (sometimes more than once a week), I need to know that was spent. Not that "$1.00" was spent... b/c that might result in a bounced check or my card being declined elsewhere.

If you are writing actual checks on an account and not writing it down in a register, then I think it is only a matter of time before you overdraw your account. I saw a post here about just that thing happening to someone, and she couldn't understand why people were unsupportive and thought it was her fault.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

well - guess I'm old school -really old school - I don't do online banking and do not allow auto-debits out of my main account

@JC and any others that think no mistakes - trying to reconcile something at work and having trouble - the bank had the deposit higher than we did ... hmmm... finally saw that they processed a $300 check for $3,000 (at least in the deposit - not sure what might have happened on the customer's side yet) -- so yeah, mistakes can happen!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Since all my debits and credits appear instantly (online) I just record my checks in the checkbook. I don't write that many checks, but I like to have a record/reminder so I can keep track of what clears and when.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I do still balance my paper checkbook register for my primary account. I like to have the accurate balance at hand.

I also use a program called You Need A Budget, which has a lot of great features for households. I track several kinds of accounts with that.

I host a forum that teaches people get out of debt and stay that way. Not using any form of spending tracking is how people get into trouble. Not everyone will get into trouble of course, but we mostly see the ones that do.

I save receipts for home and auto repairs, medical bills, and for items I might have to return. They are filed by topic, but in no particular date order mostly.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

We have not balanced our checkbook in over 5 years. No need to with online banking. Most debits from your checking account are instant these days. If you use your debit card at Walmart, it will be deducted before you make it out of the parking lot.
And we've had ZERO insufficient fund issues doing so.
We don't always know the exact amount to the penny in the checking account but I can tell you within a few dollars.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I do not. I only write checks to my babysitter out of our general checking account and budget everything else on an Excel spreadsheet. If I go over on groceries or gas for the pay period, I go adjust and that decreases any fun money that is left over. But no, I don't balance a checkbook anymore.

We have a separate account for our daughter's dance account. I write a LOT of checks for that, but even then, I just write it on the back. It drives my check register freak friend insane :).

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answers from Chicago on

I do the same as you. I started keeping receipts then check online, then get rid of them. I still have way to much in the way of papers around here.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My husband is trained as an accountant, so our checkbook does get balanced, along with the spreadsheet on the computer. Mistakes do happen and it's the only way to catch them (even if the mistake was on OUR part). A friend of mine just found that the clerk at a store charged her 4 times for the same purchase, and she wouldn't have caught it if she wasn't looking at her account regularly.

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answers from Philadelphia on

What do mean? No, never have and never will and I write the checks...

For all those that you ever find mistakes? It just seems like such a waste of time to me since the bank sends a copy of the canceled check.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Lol, nope.

We pay the bills and groceries per paycheck, set aside what we will need for gas, savings, etc., then before we spend anything on "extras" we call the ATM line and check the account balance. We usually have a general idea of what we have, but with both of us using he same account it's easier to call and check than it is to report everything to each other.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I never have balanced my checkbook and I never will. I'm hopelessly bad :(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I just go on-line and look at my account to see how much is in it and it also shows what came out by listing the store and amount paid. I budge by paycheck. Car, electric, $160 for groceries and gas on one paycheck and phone plus $160 for groceries and gas on the other paycheck. This month is rough because I have water, garbage, school supplies and have to pay someone to watch my son for 3 days while I work so I have to re-arrange some things. I check my balance and what has come out of my account almost every day just to make sure I have enough.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't keep receipts. I can verify instantly, via the bank's app on my iPhone, that I was charged the correct amount. After that, unless it's something I might need to return, I don't keep the receipt. (We do have a business, and I keep all of the receipts for that, of course, and that account is reconciled monthly by our accountant.) Since I'm the one who pays all the bills, I know how much we have in our personal account at any given time. If my husband needs something big, he will ask first, so I know to plan for that. Other than that, no, I don't see any good reason to balance my checkbook. With instant access to all of our accounts via the bank's app, and anti-fraud notifications set up, I don't see any reason to do so. It would be redundant.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

While I still make ongoing notations in my check book, I check our on-line statements twice a week to keep track. I am always on target so reconciling later is not necessary. I


answers from Washington DC on

we still balance ours, even with the online checking and bill paying.
and by 'we' i mean 'he'<G>.
our kids don't, though. they think we're kind of nuts. apparently they can keep track by just looking at their statements frequently, but that would never work for me. how do you know if a check has been cashed (yes! we still use checks occasionally!) or if there's been a wrongful withdrawal or incorrect amount if you don't sit down and balance?
so sayeth the dinosaur.
:) khairete



answers from St. Louis on

I keep an Excel spreadsheet with our finances instead of a checkbook. I am very OCD about it actually. LOL I have it separated monthly and list each deposit/withdrawl in a category (groceries, gas, eating out, sports, school, etc). That way I can budget for each week and month overall. If I end up spending more than I thought, I will take it from another week so it's not like we're set in stone on what we can spend each week. It's just a nice way to keep track of how much we do spend. At the end of each month I then tally how much was spent in each category so I have a running tab of how much we spend each month. Just Yesterday I looked back over the year and found we spent $10K in groceries in the past year. Wow! So I'm a bit OCD and I do keep receipts as well but get rid of them every year or two!



answers from Albuquerque on

I would be lost if I didn't balance and reconcile my checkbook. I do write an occasional check and sometimes those things take forever to cash. If I just went by my bank account it wouldn't be accurate. Everyday receipts are recorded and then thrown away. Receipts for larger purchases and gifts are saved in a file or with the manual.

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