Do You Balance Your Checkbook?
Now there’s a basic question…do you balance your checkbook? Do you reconcile your credit card statements and other bank accounts?
Last night the money conversation at home got a little heated as we started talking about balancing the checkbook. I am a micromanaging, balance-it-soon-after-it-comes kind of person. I find it a very important step in managing my money with respect. It also gives me the opportunity to catch any errors I or the bank made in a timely manner and get them resolved. My partner, on the other hand, while she is very meticulous and conscious with her money is not nearly as called to balance her checkbook as frequently. So, when she does do it several months later it takes hours. I admit, it drives me crazy (and she knows it). It is at this point, I practice what I coach & choose unattachment.
You simply can’t practice good stewardship of your money if you don’t balance your accounts. Whether you have online accounts, automatic downloads, or not, you still need to take a few moments each month and put your eyeballs on it.
As I was doing some Googling on this topic for the post, I came across an old article from the NY Times (circa 2006) and the quote made by this professor is just plain irresponsible. Attitudes like his are partly responsible for the state of consumers in the mess we see today with credit cards and mortgage problems:
As Lewis Mandell, a professor of finance and managerial economics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, sees it: “Some people don’t need to balance their checkbooks. If they have sufficient assets and overdraft protection, there’s no real need to worry about balancing their checkbook.”
For those who have a pretty good idea of what is in their account and how much they spend every month, laboriously going through every statement can be just a waste of time, he said.
“Today’s technology makes it so difficult,” Professor Mandell said. Before direct deposits and, particularly, debit cards, checkbook records consisted pretty much of deposits, cash withdrawals and checks written for largish sums.
Excuse me? Kinda sorta idea of what is in your account? What about all those overdraft protection fees? What about overdraft protection that just throws it on your revolving line of credit?
Who among us hasn’t written a check and not recorded it? Who hasn’t gone to the ATM or point of purchase machines, used the debit card, and then lo and behold there is no paper in the receipt dispenser so you walk away without a receipt and never write it down? While these might not be thousands of dollars of errors, you stand no chance of ever being in integrity with your money if you don’t ever actually sit down and look at the details.
How we treat our money is a direct reflection of how we view our selves and also impacts our ability to create and build wealth in the future. If you find yourself struggling with debt or frustrated trying to create more financial abundance in your life and you’re not being a good steward of your money you need look no further (at least to start).
I am sure there are a myriad of reasons people don’t balance their checkbooks and other accounts – the excuses range from “no time” to “don’t know how” to pure laziness. Again, they are only excuses. If you find time to brush your teeth daily and take out the garbage, you can find 30 minutes every 4-6 weeks to balance your accounts. And, if you don’t have that kind of time, hire a bookkeeper.
If you feel ashamed because you are unsure how to do it, don’t fret. Perhaps you are simply intimidated or no one taught you how as a kid. Now, as an adult you are feeling too much shame to ask for help. Don’t! There is no shame in asking a question and learning at ANY age. Here are a few tutorials on how to balance a checkbook:
How about you? Do you regularly balance your checkbook and accounts? Do you avoid it and if so, why? Any success or horror stories either way? Would love to hear from you in the comments.
Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses the way the want rather than how they were told they “should”. Ready to learn how to achieve success on your own terms? Download the free 12 part eCourse “How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin” at her website http://www.thepaulagcompany.com and Coaching4Lesbians blog.