Balancing a checkbook

Does anyone actively balance a physical checkbook anymore? When I first got checks for my checking account when I started working (2014), I tried to rigorously track all of my spending with my checkbook but since I could just check my balance and spending info online from my computer it didn’t seem like a necessary habit to develop.

I ask because a kid I was tutoring (8th grade) seemed very interested and worried about learning this skill and I told her that I don’t do this and don’t know anyone that does. I’m curious if anyone has reasons for continuing this practice nowadays.

We keep a physical checkbook and balance it weekly. I say “we” but it is really my wife who spearheads it. I get called in for mathematical anomalies and I have a 100% track record so far in my investigations :male_detective:

We are in our mid 30’s by the way, so this isn’t a holdover from past habits pre-online accounting. She decided early on in our marriage that she wanted to do it to keep track of our spending and it works pretty well to keep ourselves grounded financially.

I’m the finance guy in our family. SWMBO only cares that her purchases are not interrupted by bounced checks!

I find it easier to balance the checkbook every week. I do it Saturday mornings. I print the transactions since last Saturday from my online account. It only takes me 5 minutes. If I wait and do it every month when the bank statement comes in the mail, it took >> 4 times longer. Doing it weekly was less stuff and less time to forget things!

I have 5 kids. I taught them all how to balance the checkbook, because banks make mistakes too! You gotta watch them!

I use Quicken. Every transaction is tracked (mostly via download, but some manual entry).

I don’t keep my check register up to date with every transaction anymore, but I do make sure that I reconcile my accounts in Quicken with the paper statement monthly.

I also download all transactions weekly, make sure they are categorized properly, and pay attention to spending trends, budget, etc.

Almost exactly the same way as swertel.

To balance checkbook, i did use Quicken until i had to pay for software updates.

So, i created my own using Excel w/ excellent results. Works great in monitoring expenses/income and expense categories. I added credit card expenses to monitor those expenditures and handle any disputes, etc.

I have a sheet that summarizes all accounts on a monthly basis including a chart.

I balance monthly when the bank statements are received. No online banking whatsoever!

I pay my balances down once in the middle of the statement period and once right before it ends. I suppose my life is simple enough that I can just look at the running statement on my banking app before I make those payments to make sure nothing is wonky - but it’s all mental math at that point, not anything formal.

There was only one time so far I thought I caught my bank messing up, but it was a gas station putting a $50 hold on my card a few years ago and I just never encountered a hold that high until that day.

In my mind, there are about 3 routine activities needed to keep a successful checkbook:

  1. Balance the checkbook (actually, I do a reconciliation between my checkbook and the bank’s statement).
  2. Pay Bills.
  3. Monitor.

I get paid every two weeks (26 times/year). The EFT hits on Thursday or Friday. Usually, I balance my checkbook every Saturday. I pay bills on the Sunday after payday. I use my CU’s BillPay system, which does EFTs or cuts and mails checks. It’s a free service. I haven’t bought postage stamps to mail payments in over 10 years. When I pay bills I pay 3 weeks worth of bills. That gives me a week of overlap when I get paid, so I don’t get dinged with late payments. With this method I have found I don’t have to pay any stray bills during the week, and I only pay bills every other Sunday, EXCEPT sometimes I have to pay Spectrum. Their pay period is kinda short; the bastards! I guess I could autopay that one, but that would be the only one.

And, monitoring, is just keeping an eye on things and verifying bills are paid according to my plan. It’s easy.

When first having an account, I did not dare neglect tracking everything in that little ledger that came with the checkbook. Never had an overdraw, but living on a one-check margin was scary. After a decade or two it got too tedious (i.e. I got too lazy). But also by then there were far fewer checks written. Yes I should have been writing the automated payments in there but seeing each statement with a ~25 day buffer seemed like enough. I still write in every check but the balance is only a rough estimate from the last CU statement view.

Hang on, you guys still have actual check books, I don’t know of a bank in the country (New Zealand) that still accepts checks. The last one I wrote was for speeding fine some 10 years ago. Everything here now is bank transfers or plastic or if despite cash.

I hear ya’ - the only thing I used to regularly write checks for is paying rent, and my current landlord got an online payment service a couple years ago so that’s out. The only other reason I can see writing a check these days is to include one in a card for a birthday/holiday so I can surprise someone.

Writing a check is much easer than a bank transfer. My daughter just signs it and snaps a picture of it.
Every year I wright a check to pay for my post office rent. I sort of need to as there machines won’t take cash.
But a new feature, have the bank send a check to the trash service, as on-line they only want plastic.