Monday, August 24, 2009

Let's not do that again...

Normally I'm pretty good about noting uses of my debit card in my checkbook daily, but I let it slide a little bit, and then the task looked really huge, and so I let it slide a bit longer...

...and I just spent all morning balancing it; unfolding and squinting at little slips of paper. Ugh. We'll not be falling behind on the paperwork like that again.

20 comments:

Caleb said...

You actually manually balance your checkbook? By hand?

Hi thee hence to Mint.Com, yo.

Davidwhitewolf said...

Good Lord! 1. Ditch the checkbook. 2. Save your receipts and check them against your account online. When you see the charge show up correctly within a day or so, toss the receipt and go on with your life.

(I'd add 3., learn how to access your account by phone for this purpose, but I'm risking enough snark already.)

og said...

I've been a paper kind of a guy forever, and only recently moved to tracking via spreadsheet, but hope to migrate to online with Quicken soon. I hate fiddling with that level of cash, and wish the hell I never had to do any of this. Even when I automate MY stuff, I still need ot keep track of crap for work, so I always have a wallet full of receipts.

I can sooo feel your pain.

Tam said...

I'll use the phone to check current balance, but I'd rather gargle crushed glass than listen to the roboteller drone "...dollars and seventy-eight cents on June 26th. For the next twenty-seven transactions, please press star-seven-three-one. For the previous seventeen transactions, push pound-four-nine-two. For the current temperature in Nome, Alaska, press zero, then pound-star-one-three..."

I listen so much faster than she talks that I've been known to throw phones in frustration.

Robb Allen said...

I just got married to someone who was better at it than I am.

So far, it's working although I have no clue as to my real net worth.

Caleb said...

No, seriously, Mint.Com is neato-torpedo. It integrates itself with your financial products so that you can have instant balance tracking for multiple accounts in one location.

It's cool as hell, dawg.

og said...

And it's not secure. I have been looking at several products, and Mint seems to be well put together, but all my finance people say it's born to be hacked. Not like I have a wad of cash, but I'd sure rather pay $30 for something like Quicken whcih has some (still not perfect) security as opposed to something perfect and free and insecure. Quicken has some supposedly decent security- Mint's security seems to consist of them saying "Of course we're secure!"

I still haven't made up my mind yet, but I'm certainly leaning toward better security than worse, even on my meager salary.

Robb Allen said...

"but all my finance people"

I wish I had gotten a fiance manager before I got married...

og said...

Not like I have a bunch, I'm just talking about my accountant and my stockbroker.

Caleb said...

If you use online banking, your data is just as exposed there as it is with Mint. Pretty much any kind of online financial data system is begging to be haxxored. If you really want to be safe, store your financials on an Excell spreadsheet that you print out and fill out by hand...wait.

Also, please disregard the sack of cash in my closet with the note that says "thanks Harbles, Love Mint.Com".

og said...

The difference is, Caleb, Quicken and the banks I deal with have an embedded security system. Mint has none. Last time I checked, Some>none. Yes, they're prone to hacking. Less so than mint. if I'm a hacker, will I go after a system that has some security, or one that only requires your email and a password that can be collected by keystrokes. Seems pretty clear. Like I said, I still haven't made a decision, and the whole point of the exercise is to balance security and convenience. MS used to have a very secure system, which then stopped being supported. Further reason to loathe Bill Gates.

Nathan said...

Robb, my wife married me because I actually balanced my checkbook on a monthly basis and understood that just because I had blank checks did NOT mean I had money in the bank...

wv: firiditi. That really ought to mean something :)

Sigivald said...

Tam - Doesn't your bank have an online transaction review?

My CU lets me look at all my transactions online, as fast as I can read.

George said...

Back in my anal days, I used Quicken. (My neighbour on the boat next to me did the same ... only he was really anal.) I was amazed about the info I gathered about my lifestyle ... but it did involve a ton of receipts, little pieces of paper, etc. I could crosscheck just about everything. Of course, back then, I some assets to watch out for.

As I said, back in my more anal days.

Now ... I don't have to worry.

The moral? If you have need to keep track of where spending is going, you must have more than the bare minimum.

And that's a good thing.

Regards.

Jay G said...

I think Clinton was in office the last time I balanced my checkbook.

His first term.

DJ said...

Beware the warning: If you can't keep up, you can't catch up.

I laugh my ass off when I see (but don't hear; mute is my friend) commercials which show someone checking his account balance via a telephone and deciding he can buy that expensive plasma TV in the window. That account balance doesn't take into account outstanding transactions, neither debit nor credit, nor does it take into account any cash flow considerations, such as the mortgage payment due the next week.

A simple check register tells me what I have, and a spreadsheet, when necessary, lets me plan ahead. I haven't found any other tool set that would do me any better.

Davidwhitewolf said...

When I mentioned using the "phone," I meant using one's modren handheld device to READ one's transactions and balance via the interwebs or, better yet, the slowly-being-implemented-in-the-US "bank-by-phone" apps. I have less patience than anyone for slow-talkin' voice recordings.

The wife and I have multiple accounts, and I track the activity on all of them throughout the day if I want online. Saves so much time I can't express it.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...We'll not be falling behind on the paperwork like that again..."

Makes me think of Brazil.

(Sam) "Do you have a 27B-6?"

"Sorry, I'm a bit of a stickler for paperwork."

Standard Mischief said...

I'm not exactly the zen master of finance but a simple trick I started a decade ago sure helps.

I realized there were two major categories of payments - stuff that came out right away and stuff (checks) that came out anywhere from right away to weeks from now. Forgetting about the latter was 90% of my problem.

So I separated them into two accounts. Income gets direct deposited in one account and I pull money out via the ATM or do debit card transactions from here.

Once a month I write all the checks and before I mail them all, I total them up and move the cash over from the other account. (This works great if you don't carry around a checkbook, only using it to pay bills via snail mail).

The only refinements overt the decade was to switch over to online billpay after the anthrax attacks, and ditch the debit cards for some plastic that I flex till it screams and pay off every month. (and get cash back every year for in exchange for letting Homeland Stupidity know how often I buy hummus)

If someone steals your debit card, they spend your money until you sort things out with the bank.

With a credit card, along with the ability to dispute a transaction, if it's stolen, the thief spends someone else's money.

Ian Argent said...

Take this as a vote for quicken - it doesn't have to be done online at all; my father does so quite successfully from receipts. (Full disclosure: I use the hell out of my financial institutions' online capability).

And it beats the hell out of having to do your own math

WV: oproud - what goeth before the ofall?