A couple of weeks ago our daughter Anne was having trouble getting her checkbook to balance. She went over and over it and finally decided to go to the bank to inquire about some discrepancies. She began to explain to the teller some of her concerns. The teller was considerate and asked to see her checkbook. When Anne opened her well-organized checkbook, the teller almost gasped. She said, “you know, if more people would keep their checkbook balanced like this, they would save themselves sooooo much money!”
In today’s debit card society, balancing a checkbook is harder than it was in the pre-debit card years. Both husband and wife are using their cards to make purchases. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to write down purchases that were made with the swipe of a card.
Online banking has made access to our bank balance easier than ever, but many folks don’t realize that an online balance isn’t an accurate one. The only accurate balance is when we write down every expense and every deposit on some form of a ledger. And that ledger is only as good as the monthly checkbook balancing act we do when the statement becomes available to us once a month.
Here are some strategies we’ve found helpful:
- Enter daily purchases every evening. It usually takes less than 5 minutes.
- Have a central location where all expense receipts are kept.
- Mark the date that the statement comes available on your calendar and actually schedule a time to balance the checkbook.
- Use cash whenever possible…this greatly reduces the number of transactions entered into a checkbook.
- Start somewhere. If you haven’t been keeping your checkbook balanced, start by entering the transactions on your next bank statement. Then sit down for five minutes everyday to keep it accurate with new deposits or expenses.
Personally, Mark and I have found Quicken software to be wonderful for keeping our checkbook ledger on our computer. It does the adding and subtracting and makes record keeping so much easier. Our adult kids, however, are quite content using checkbook ledgers. Either works fine! Like the bank teller told Anne, keeping good records saves people money!
What about you? How do you keep track of your purchases?
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