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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just found out I forgot to write a $100 check in our check register. That is a HUGE mistake for us! We didn't bounce anything, but that was our gas/misc money for next week (dh gets paid every 2 weeks.)

Please, someone tell me you've BTDT at least once in your life...I feel like utter crap right now!

And while you're at it, how do you stay on top of your checkbook? Do you sit down every day and write the day's debits/checks in? Or is it an ingrained habit now for you to write them in as soon as they go out? I thought I had a good system going, but there's been a few "little" mistakes lately, and now this whopper...

I'd like to have Quicken, but dang, it's expensive! I can't really afford to spend $50+ on something to help me save money, lol!
 

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Well I've never bounced a check or anything, but I have had emergencies come up when I had nothing in the bank to cover our daily living expenses after paying for the emergency. It sucks but at least nothing bounced so you don't have added fees.

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I'd like to have Quicken, but dang, it's expensive! I can't really afford to spend $50+ on something to help me save money, lol!
I know what you mean. We're both students and he works in addition to that. After paying for all the extra school supplies we need there isn't any way to swing $50 for something like Quicken. I use excel which came with microsoft office that I had to buy for school to use word. There is also a free shareware program called open office that you could google if you don't have excel. There are a couple premade budgets for excel that you plug your numbers into and such. I know it won't upload stuff from your bank like Quicken, but it works well for free.


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And while you're at it, how do you stay on top of your checkbook? Do you sit down every day and write the day's debits/checks in? Or is it an ingrained habit now for you to write them in as soon as they go out? I thought I had a good system going, but there's been a few "little" mistakes lately, and now this whopper...
Well we just moved to a cash envelope system. I'll leave whatever bills need to be paid for that pay period in my account and withdraw the rest as cash. Then all the cash will be divided into a few envelopes. For example, my envelope categories are gas, groceries, "play money", clothing, car repairs and registration, gifts etc. Now the gas, groceries, and play money are cleared out every pay period but the ones like car repairs in gifts may carry money over from pay period to pay period until it is needed.

We were using out debit card for everything so I'll tell you how I kept that balanced. I would save all of my receipts for the day and come home and enter them in a notebook or notepad on the computer. I would then go to my online access for my checking and see what had cleared the bank. I would cross those items off. Now take the balance from the checking acct and subtract whatever hadn't cleared and that number was my new balance. Like I said I did that for 5 years and I never bounced a check. Our money is really tight and I had as little as $3 in there for a week at a time so it's not like I had spare hundreds to cover mistakes, kwim? We stopped using the debit card because I wasn't being mindful of my spending. I spend way less when I use cash and see exactly how much is left in my envelope if I were to spend.
 

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It may be hard to set up, but getting a buffer amount of money in the checking account has worked wonders for us. This way if we're a day or two late in depositing our paychecks, or forget a bill, etc, we don't bounce stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much, guys. I didn't know about the budget programs in Excel--will check them out. And I think I would benefit from the cash system--it's just kind of a leap for us, so I'd have to talk to dh about it... Also, about the buffer--it's sad, but we did have a "bumper"...problem is, with money being tight, we end up using the bumper every pay period. *sigh* After this, I did make the decision to start transferring over money each payday to our savings. We have no emergency fund to speak of, and I'm starting to realize that's a high priority!

Thanks again!
 

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btdt too many times, but I hope I'm working on it. It doesn't happen that often anymore, but my fil came this weekend for a surprise visit, and completely blew our budget out of the water. Even though he bought us meals out a few times, he eats *enoromous* quantities, so when we ate at home we had to buy lots of extras and still he ate up half the food that was supposed to last us until payday on the 1st!


I keep track of everything through our online banking. I need a better system, but I never figured out a way to make quicken work for us.

Kristen
 

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oh yes, have I done this. It was the story of my life when I was in school. I finally broke down and got quicken. Yes, it costs me money upfront, but I figure it was worth it in saving me stress and bounced check fees.

I also find that I am really awful about handling checks. I try to have everything arranged so I can pay online, if not automatically. That tends to show up instantly, unlike checks which float in days later.
 

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Have you considered doing online banking?

What was the check for? I try to write *all* my checks in my online banking---that way they show up immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The check was to a garage--we'd had our car inspected, filter replaced, oil changed. So unfortunately, online banking wasn't an option. I barely ever write checks anymore, because I do try to do as much as I can online... I might end up trying to find Quicken on ebay or something (um...next payday, that is.) I really need something to keep me accountable and organized.


Thanks so much!
 

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btdt, and ever since then, we are ultra nutty about writing everything down. the second dh walks in the door i ask him if he used the card, i write the checks, i double check the online banking everyday.
 

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We have a joint account that we use for all household expenses. We know exactly how much our bills are and we have a set amount that we deposit into that account every pay period.

The only checks we write are for bills, for everything else we use the debit card which shows up right away (no waiting for the check to clear).

We have also managed to build up a little extra in the account so we ride through those last few days before pay day. We don't "dip into" the extra for anything, we just pay our bills like always.
 

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That sucks. I have inverted 2 numbers in the check book before and resulted in 15 bounced checks. Gotta love the snowball effect!
:

Luckily, I call the bank and plainly stated that "I was a moron who obviously can't even use a calculator correctly." And they reversed all but one of the fees.

AM
 

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yep. did it recently. Not good.

SO!

I switched ALL our payments to online billing - thru our checking account. Even 'personal' checks. I did a test this past pay period and had a payment sent to me for grocery money. they mailed the check, and in the various fields, had filled in 'grocery money'. LOL

It's auto drafted from the account on payday, so even though it took a few days to arrive at the house (I was curious to see if it would work), I know EXACTLY how much is in the account, AND I don't have to actually write a check. Any business/person/whatever you want to send money to, just fill in name/address/phone/account number - for my grocery money, I literally have 'grocery money' *grin* I just hang on to the check til next time I'm out and then cash. When money is gone, no more food purchases til next payday in 2 weeks. . . ..

The coolest thing about this method is it shows up on the bank statement as whatever you call the 'company'. so I've got stuff like 'Dr. K $10', 'LMH $10', 'hh funds $45', 'gas co $67', etc. showing up in a neat list on the bank statement. Very handy! And quicker than checking what check # to look for. . ..
(This online banking tool is free - they don't even charge to mail the checks to those that don't have auto draft options - like the household grocery money, lol.)

I've got all my utilities set up, along with household expenses, etc., to draft 1/2 the total monthly amount out on each payperiod, to split the expenses more evenly and make the 'ouch' a little easier on each pay check. So now, we have VERY small padding in checking ($200) and no savings acct, but we definitely know where every penny is going.

It is working for us. Maybe you could check it out, too.

I hear my youngling gotta scoot
 
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