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Do you use your check register?

glypnirsgirl

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As a bankruptcy attorney, i look at people's financial records all day long. It used to be common to look at check registers. Now, almost NONE of my clients keep a check register. And they don't use an electronic register like Quicken or Money, either. Instead, they simply check their bank balance.

I am wondering if this is limited to the specific demographic that I serve. Is it common for most people to not use their registers or other tracking method and to just rely on their bank??? Or is it that people that don't monitor/track their finances end up in bankruptcy more often?

I am OCD about my finances and always have been." I use Quicken, Quickbooks and Excel (but not a check register). I use Quicken at home, Quickbooks at work, and Excel (which I use for cash flow, not tracking per se) at both home and work.

* when I was 21 and going on my honeymoon for 2 weeks, I called all of my creditors to let them know that I would not be able to pay them when I got the bill. I had never NOT paid a bill the same day that I received it.

I had a client come in with a COMPLETE check register today which made me think about it. It has been YEARS since I have had a client provide me with their own trackingl My client used online bill pay for several of her bills and dutifully wrote down the confirmation numbers and subtracted the debit from her account. Those confirmation numbers are the only way to prove payments on electronic payments --- and almost no one (that I see) has a system for keeping track of the confirmation of their payments!

So, I am wondering, how do you keep track of your finances?

elaine
 

Htoo0

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I have a co-worker who enters everything into Quicken but most just use the register as do I. Some don't trust putting anything on a computer which connects to the 'net. Another friend who runs his own business simply checks his balance. He claims the bank hasn't been wrong in over 30 years so he trusts them.

My wife prints out her online payment statements but they're (sad to say) stacked in disarray most of the time. She also insists on waiting until shortly before the due date before paying bills rather than paying as they come in. It is sooo totally unnecessary but it's not worth fighting about so I let it go. Ah well....:shrug:
 

tompalm

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I seldom write checks, or maybe a couple each month. All bills are auto paid and taken out of my checking account and the same goes for pension, rent or other money going into my account. I look at my banking activity a couple times each week online, so no need to keep a register.

Also, I use my credit card for everything that I can and look at the activity online. Nope, no need to keep track of it all when I can see it online.
 

artringwald

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I love Quicken. With the daily automatic updates, I can make sure all the transactions are legitimate before DW and I forget what we spent. It's not easy remembering when we buy stuff on-line in the middle of the night. I also like printing to a PDF file (using PDF Creator) whenever I make a transaction. It's easy to search when I need an old one.
 

Nickfromct

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I use quicken. I have over 10 years of history for my checking account in there. A great way to keep track of your finances. It takes no more than 10 minutes to reconcile the account each month. Can't see myslf not using it.
 

amycurl

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I keep a register, although I usually just end up updating it two or three times a month by looking online and transferring information. But then I do check it against the printed bank statement, just because it's a habit.

I pay most of my bills online, on the day they are due (why should they get to make interest on my money for any extra time, rather than me?) I usually do schedule them earlier than that. I always make sure to write down the confirmation on the bill itself, and keep the paper bill for at least a year. The paper bills serve as the reminder to pay; my power bill is the only one I get electronically, and I usually end up paying it quarterly, because I forget that it's sitting in my inbox!
 

myoakley

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I use a check register; I know my balance at any given time; and, I ALWAYS reconcile the register with my bank statement. Maybe this is because I am the child of parents who lived through the depression and taught me fiscal responsibility and frugality!
 

Talent312

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This is a topic that seems to arise on TUG with some frequency.

I write maybe two checks a _year_. I don't use a checkbook.
Quicken's One-Step Update is a far more accurate way to track activity.

However, my secretary does not even bother with that.
With a smartphone, she can check balances while shopping.
 
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caribbeansun

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Everything is entered into Simply Accounting and balanced quarterly, I can tell you the balance in each of my accounts less outstanding cheques within a thousand dollars without having to look at a bank statement. I write the confirmation #'s on the bills and file the bills by year. I track my investments on an Excel spreadsheet updated monthly and calculate my own ROI on a rolling basis, benchmarked against the TSX. As I write I'm thinking maybe I have some of your OCD. :D

I've been doing the above for probably 10+ years.
 

cindi

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I do keep a register.

And I faithfully use Quicken as well.

There are few bills that I actually pay with a check, most are paid online and then downloaded into quicken.

Plus I had 2 external hard drives I alternate backing up Quicken on, just in case of computer failure as mentioned.

I would be kinda lost without it.
 

blakebr

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For several years I kept an check register and verified my on line balance on a regular basis. I never found an error with the on line balance but I did find errors in my register. My wife and I use the same account. I stopped keeping a check register many years back and do not regret it. I check my on line balance at least five times a week and feel comfortable with it. I also check my credit cards and other balances on line. It believe by checking on line I will detect fraud sooner (and I have). I have never not had an e-bill paid. With e-bill paying I write less than 5 checks each year and buy stamps only at Christmas for cards. The savings of $0.45 per bill is a good thing. I don't see ever going back to a check register.
 

rickandcindy23

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Guilty. I use online banking and stopped using a checkbook register years ago. I have a back-up savings account to catch anything that should bounce, in case I scheduled more payments than I have in checking. That's a rarity.

I did have pause with my way of doing things, when the credit union updated their system and literally wiped out my online history, which had gone back for years.

This was a few months ago. I was so angry at the CU, and Rick said, "Told you so." He has 20/20 hindsight and loves to say that phrase. :rolleyes: Of course, I pay the bills for everything, and he doesn't even pay his own business bills.
 

ronparise

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i have never been a fan of any duplication of effort..I learned a long time ago that most of the time I dont need to re invent the wheel...Most of what I know, I dont know at all...I just know where to look it up

The bank does a better job than I ever did

Years ago I kept a register. and checked it against my bank statement every month. Then when debit cards come into play, I would enter those transactions into the check register daily....

Now its not necessary... I can use the debit card and I get an email receipt on the spot...The bank keeps a record, why should I have to?. If my bankruptcy attorney needs a record, he can have my password

As for mistakes, I find the banks computer does as good job of adding and subtracting as I can do with a pencil and paper, standing in line at a grocery store....

Speaking of grocery stores...do you trust the scanner and the stores computer to add up all your purchases, and account for the coupons, special sales and two for one deals?....or do you check each item against the printed receipt, and then pull out a pencil and paper to check their addition...Are you the guy holding up the line when Im just trying to pay for my ice cream and get home to eat it before it melts?
 

sail27bill

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I do use it for the few checks I pay each year. Mostly I pay on-line. I use excel to keep track of my bills, payments and the confirmation numbers. I also have kept a hand record of all the confirmation numbers in a payment book I created. Furthermore, I created a word document with every inportant number to call for our accounts, life insurance, 401k, etc. in the event of my untimely death. My husband has not paid a bill in almost 18 years, so I do not want him to be overwhelmed should anything happen to me. All our bills, tax returns, etc. are catalogued and boxed. It may be over the top, but I believe in paper trails. I have family who are constantly being overdrawn or owe the tax man because they don't keep track of their finances and I pity them.

Anita
 

ada903

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I use my checkbook register for my bank account, and also record all credit card transactions in a spreadsheet, and log in online daily in my bank account and all credits cards to reconcile the transactions.

I work in finance, so maybe I am a freak when it comes to monitoring.

I did find a bank mistake once and there was a thick thread in the tug lounge about that.
 

pkyorkbeach

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I use duplicate checks but have not kept a check register for many years. Although I keep saying I need to. It is important but time is never found to do it.
 

Elan

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If I write 5 checks a year, it's a lot. Don't keep a register as I get copies of my cancelled checks and file those. I also put most expenses on CC, and I do verify monthly that the charges are correct. To be honest, I never know what my bank balance is. Just doesn't concern me that much.
 

DebBrown

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I use a register mostly because DH isn't very computer savvy and prefers to see the details on paper. But I would always use some type of record keeping. I usually pay bills on line but enter the info days before the due dates. If I didn't record it, I wouldn't know my expected balance. I know the bank will tell me the actual balance but it can't know what checks are "in the mail" or what payments are coming up.

Deb
 

Ballen0351

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I use an app on my phone. I enter all my transactions on it. I just wish there was a way to link my wife to it. Now she just sends me a text or leaves me recipts at end of the day.
 

bryanphunter

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Still use quicken as my primary method of tracking all my accounts. Since the use of debit cards, I find this is the easiest way to keep track of things.

Quicken makes tax time easier through itemization. Able to look at our spending habits / amounts.

I use Mint.com to track when I'm away from my main computer (Ipad / Iphone)
 

pittle

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I am also one of the folks who seldom writes checks, and those are the duplicate checks with a copy in the checkbook. I check my bank account every morning and I keep my own version of a check register on a notepad in a desk drawer with deposits, checks, automatic payments and ATM reciepts, but once they clear the bank, I put a check mark beside them and when the page is full, I start over with just the outstanding planned automatic payments or ATM purchases. Once the bank has paid the transaction or the deposits have been accounted for, I am OK and do not need to keep the informtion any more.
 

PigsDad

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I'm with Ron -- I try to avoid any duplicated effort, and my banks and brokerages do a much better job than I can. All my financial records have been exclusively online for at least 10 years now. At the end of the year, I get my year-end statements and archive them off. I regularly view my transactions online, so I always know if payments have been made, etc.

And I don't fall into the OP's client's demographic. ;)

Kurt
 

hypnotiq

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I import my bank stuff into MS Money every month and look for anything that doesnt match.

I have a pretty good memory, so I can usually catch anything that is amiss.
I also use it for forecasting monthly 'I dont care what happens to this $'. :D

CC statements autopay balance every month but I download the statements and make sure nothing is amiss there as well.

Ill find another system when I dont have a great memory anymore. :D
 

pjrose

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Yes, we use the check registers, and DH also checks the bank site online every few days to see what's cleared etc.

Both kids (22 and 19) are still in school and we support them, and each has a joint checking account with me to make it easier for me to transfer in money or to look online. Both accounts are set up to not allow overdrafts, as it was $30 or whatever per overdraft. Since they don't write physical checks, "bouncing" a check won't happen.

DS doesn't use a check register or checks, just the bank card, and he checks his balance online.

DD uses her bank card until it doesn't work any more - doesn't write anything down, and doesn't check online. When/if she gets a job (disability issues) she'll be better at this; at least she was years ago when she had a job for a few months.

We have everything possible set up for auto-pay on the credit card (for miles). The other bills are paid by check, or occasionally online or by phone. We always write down the confirmation numbers. When I do anything financial online - whether shopping or paying - I take a screen shot or print a PDF file that shows the transaction and confirmation number.
 
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Luanne

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My father was an accountant and taught me how to balance a checkbook. For years I was anal about balancing to the penny every single month.

I still keep a paper register, but I also use Quicken.
 
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