Yes, I still use my checkbook register. And guess what, I have never overdrawn my account (*as i pat myself on the back*). So here’s my second tip for making due with what you have…balance your checkbook!
With the advent of online banking many people have decided that it is not worth their time and effort to keep their checkbook register up to date and balanced. It’s just so easy to log onto your bank’s website from your computer or phone, take a glance at the balance and figure out where you are financially, right? Nope. That number is not always accurate. Often, that balance may not include:
-debit card purchases made over a weekend or holiday
-purchases made to small companies which aggregate credit card payments before sending them in to the bank
-checks you wrote that have yet to be cashed
-payments for gas purchased at the pump
Yes, these purchases may be delayed a few days or longer if that check hasn’t been cashed.
Additionally, there are sometimes those odd payments that do not ever show up. I have one such payment which I made to a computer software company to renew my anti-virus subscription for another year. I diligently wrote down the online payment in my checkbook register and waited for it to appear on the online banking site. Oddly, it never did. I called the company a few days later and asked why the payment had not hit my bank since I was worried that maybe the renewal purchase did not go through. The company checked their records and said that they had my renewal listed as paid and that I was good to go. Hmm…a call to the bank informed me that the company may have been delayed in submitting the charge to the bank, but that they have up to six months to submit the charge. After six months I can cross it off my checkbook register as they cannot put it through without contacting me first. Good to know so I don’t get a surprise debit.
So for my accounting purposes, I keep my receipts and enter them into my checkbook register every couple of days. Whenever I write a check or make an online purchase I jot it down on the register right then. Honestly, sometimes I forgot what I bought or that I wrote a check, especially when I have been paying a lot of bills or if I have been shopping a lot. Balancing my checkbook and comparing it against the online banking website helps me to stay on top of my finances and learn what I’ve got to work with. This way, I don’t get surprised by delayed charges nor do I overdraw my account. Win Win!
Related Posts: Making Do With What You’ve Got: Part I: Making A Budget, Making Do With What You’ve Got: Part III: Lower Your Bills, and Making Do With What You’ve Got: Part IV: Ten Principles of Couponing.