Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

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abuss368
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Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:34 pm

Bogleheads -

Do you keep a checkbook register and reconcile each month? We have done this for many many years and are now questioning it for the following reasons:

1. We get paid twice and month and believe we can move due dates of bills to coincide with payroll. By having everything deducted we know pretty much in real time what’s left.

2. In the age of the internet, apps, and real time information, when logging into the bank it is close to our real time balance as we write minimal checks.

3. For the minimal checks we write, we could simply write that in the register so we know the outstanding items.

5. We have never experienced errors from bank and today’s technology provides a copy of the cashed check.

6. Would rather spend time doing more minimal things in life.

7. We stopped saving receipts on credit card and matching to statement each month over a year ago so this is the next logical step. Once a receipt clears online we discard it.

8. We are questioning because we are literally rewriting or copying what is online. Technology should make life and processes easier.

9. Stopped using personal finance software a decade after using for ten years. Did not find value any longer but we do know our debts, average expenses so we never missed it. Looked forward and not back.

We are in a huge push and journey to simplify and Minimalism. This can be a big difference.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

123
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by 123 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:44 pm

Prior thread has perspectives and insights: viewtopic.php?t=235982
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:24 pm

123 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:44 pm
Prior thread has perspectives and insights: viewtopic.php?t=235982
Thanks. Also interested in overall and updated strategies.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by earlyout » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:41 pm

I use a checking account at a B&M bank as a depository for funds I use to pay bills. Almost all bills are paid automatically but I still write 2 or 3 checks each month. Several years ago I developed an Excel spreadsheet that is my check register. It gives both the actual balance and the balance shown by the bank since the bank does know about checks that have not been post to the account. Once a month I check the bank's balance vs the spreadsheet balance for a quick, one step reconciliation process. The same spreadsheet is used to manage cash flow by projecting how much cash will be needed in the next 30 days allowing me adequate time to move cash from an investment account. Keeping an accurate checkbook register would be of no value to me.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by mrc » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:45 pm

No I haven't balanced a checkbook for about 7 years, for three reasons:

First, everything is available online at the bank's website.

Second, I write very few checks. I do check credit card statements, and watch EFTs to pay utilities, CC balances.

Finally, the checking account balance is sufficient, to avoid overdrafts, so there is no reason to futz with a paper ledger.

There was a time, when we balanced to the penny, and used a small spiral notebook to record every purchase. That was when the monthly budget was ~$150.
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by wanderer » Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:53 pm

FYI - We have had 2 checks in the last year posted with the incorrect amounts. So it does happen.

We caught these events during our regular review of checking activity, and reconciliation. Both were quickly corrected by the banks (we have 3 checking accounts). To each, their own, but for DW and I - regular reconciliation works well as part of our budget management routines. And by keeping up with it regularly, it only takes a few minutes each time.

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CAsage
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by CAsage » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:01 pm

To focus more on your question, since you already save receipts until they clear online, and you maintain enough buffer in your checking account to manage checks (some of them take a lot longer to clear than I like, and I might forget), you could reasonably skip all that. The remaining question then is, what transactions would you want to need for history or future budgeting or record keeping? Some of those might be worth tracking, either in a spreadsheet or by retaining receipts. I'm thinking of medical, insurance, anything you might want to use on a Schedule A or house improvements....
Last edited by CAsage on Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by JohnFiscal » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:08 pm

I am possibly one of the very few who actually does maintain a check account ledger (and for other accounts as well).

Sure, i can log in at any time and see what transactions have cleared.

But that is not how I use my ledger. I don't really care about the instantaneous account balance.

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my account ledgers. For many years, I have updated the checking account ledger just before the beginning of the year to populate all anticipated transactions for the next year (deposits, regular monthly transactions for all bills, irregular bills, draws for cash and for investments, etc.) Actually, these input transactions are linked back to my annual budget so I have a one-page simple view of all anticipated costs and income. As each month transpires I "execute" the anticipated transaction with the actual amount, etc. A graph shows my expected account balance throughout the year. With some automated Excel macros it takes me only a couple minutes to reconcile with each month's statement, and the statement date is stamped next to each transaction. Thus I can quickly verify any transaction should some question come up months later, as they sometimes do.

Thus my ledger serves a planning ahead purpose as well as verifying banking data. And, yes, I have caught banking errors. Rare but they exist. Sometimes not the bank's fault but some other entity depositing into the wrong account (and what a headache that proved to be).

I see no reason to change my own method. Works for me on multiple levels.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by retiredjg » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:09 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:34 pm
8. We are questioning because we are literally rewriting or copying what is online. Technology should make life and processes easier.
I quit using and reconciling a checkbook register awhile back for just this reason. Might even be a year or more.

I buy everything with cash or debit card and I pay off credit cards when I pay the other bills once a month. So I was literally rewriting and copying what was online, just as you said. I decided to give up the checkbook register and see what happened.

So far, so good. I do check my balance (and what has cleared) at least once a week now. I used to do it infrequently.

This approach would not have worked in the past because it took days or weeks for checks to clear. Now everything clears in hours or a day. And I no longer need to take my checking balance down to less than $1 as I did in the past. That helps a lot. :D

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Summit111 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:18 pm

Abuss368,

We also stopped reconciling a check register years ago with the advent of on line accounts. We have email and text alerts for all activities on all of our accounts. We also review all accounts weekly.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by sport » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:19 pm

I keep an old-fashioned register. Reconciling it once a month takes only a few minutes and is very easy. I also find it of value when I have a question about the amount or date of an old payment. The record is immediately available. I am aware that keeping it is not essential, but it gives me comfort that I can verify that the bank and I agree on how much money is in the account.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Gnirk » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:22 pm

My DH and I each reconcile our checkbooks every month. Yes, it’s all available on-line, but DH doesn’t use a computer. And I like balancing my checkbook....guess I’m a bit old-school, and I have found errors before where the bank posted the incorrect amount.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by 22twain » Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:56 pm

CAsage wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:01 pm
what transactions would you want to need for history or future budgeting or record keeping? Some of those might be worth tracking, either in a spreadsheet or by retaining receipts.
Or by downloading and saving your monthly statements.
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by GerryL » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:40 pm

I stopped reconciling my paper checkbook years before I stopped carrying said checkbook in my wallet. I do, however, manually reconcile my checking account in Quicken each month. I figure that if I downloaded the transactions, I'd probably have to spend about as much time checking to make sure they are correct. The manual process is a way for me to review my spending. And I can tell myself that the exercise might ward off cognitive decline.

I also manually "reconcile" my credit card statements, categorizing all purchases. Recently I stopped fussing about pennies on transactions that have been added together. I just add or delete the difference instead of redoing. Close enough is good enough.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by user5027 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:52 pm

Since 2005 I've kept a check register on excel and reconciled it against my monthly bank checking account statement. I actually reconcile it against my online bank account just about every time I log in to the bank account and stop on the monthly cut-off date. When the statement is available the reconciliation is already done. I check it and save the excel file, then rename it to the next month (ie the file is currently named 1909, next month will be 1910).

Every year I copy the prior years entries and use excel to add 365 days to the date. I highlight the copied fields in yellow and delete the outliers. This helps me to avoid missing a payment and I can project our cash flow for the coming months and plan future draws from our IRA's. As debits are made I update the actual date and amounts and un-highlight the fields.

This information was a tremendous aid in 2014 when I needed to see what our annual expenses are before finalizing the decision to retire.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by MillennialFinance19 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:33 pm

We have a register built into our budget spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Realistically, we only have 5-7 non-income transactions per month, so it’s super simple. Don’t foresee changing anytime soon.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:41 pm

Very good feedback thus far.
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Mickey7
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Mickey7 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:46 pm

I have not done so in years.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Turbo29 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:52 pm

I only write a few checks per year. I write them down in the register but I never reconcile it.

In the pre-online era, I used to reconcile it religiously as soon as the statement showed up in the mail.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Invest4lt » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:07 pm

And, very similar to viewtopic.php?f=11&t=287854&p=4690584#p4690584

Not much has changed between credit card and bank statements.

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Bogle7
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we have technology

Post by Bogle7 » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:14 pm

I have not balanced a checkbook register in over 40 years.
What is the point?

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Re: we have technology

Post by MrJones » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:18 pm

Bogle7 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:14 pm
I have not balanced a checkbook register in over 40 years.
What is the point?
This. All I do is skim the bank or credit card statements each month to ensure I recognize the debits.

A service like mint or yodlee can auto archive for posterity, and auto classify for expense analyses.

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ThereAreNoGurus
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Re: we have technology

Post by ThereAreNoGurus » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:24 pm

Bogle7 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:14 pm
I have not balanced a checkbook register in over 40 years.
What is the point?
Agree. Complete waste of time, for me.

I seldom write a check. I can send money electronically or have a paper check sent via an online request (for those who don't want to use Zelle, Venmo, or whatever.)

I use Personal Capital to track expenses. It does an amazingly good job of categorizing them. It will also track investment income separately from payroll type income (for example).

(I do not worry about somebody obtaining my user-id's and passwords. All of my accounts have two-factor authentication.)
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by yangtui » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:19 am

I put pretty much everything I can on credit cards. Probably write one check per year on average. If I do need to pay an individual or small business I use online bill pay and let my bank issue the check/pay postage. I scan all of my activity online roughly once a month to make sure it looks right. As long as the totals fall within the expected range I am good. I suppose I could do a more detailed reconciliation but my free time is worth a lot.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by anonsdca » Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:50 am

I adopted an Excel "Check Register" many years ago. Like many others on this thread, I write almost zero check, but it is really not about that. I treat my checking account like a business. A business has what they call an "operating account" and so that is how I think about it.

So, even though we may not write actual checks, we still need to know our balance and "unposted" charges--all the time. I agree with many that these "unposted" charges are visible almost immediately, but some are not. We still need to see our "true" balance at any given moment. When we make financial decisions, our true balance is a major consideration.

I don't think you can go "minimalist" on your operating account. That is the life blood of your life. That is your cash flow. Income in, expenses out. I track it daily.

Some will say that once you get to a certain net worth, it doesn't matter. I will disagree. You don't get to a position of great wealth, without paying very close attention to your operating account.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by fru-gal » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:13 am

I really don't understand these balancing checkbook threads. They make me think of people who look at their bank-reported balances to see if they can afford to write a check, completely disregarding the fact that they might have unprocessed checks out there.

I keep a list of checks I've written and direct withdrawals companies will be making and the resultant balances of each transaction. I bold face the ones that the credit union hasn't processed yet and unbold face them when it has. Of course, I periodically look at the account online to be sure nothing unexpected has shown up, just as I periodically look at my credit card accounts online.

Off the top of my head, I probably write 2-3 checks a month, the lawn mowing people only accept checks or cash, ditto the occasional tree work, the utilities charge less for direct withdrawals from the checking account than paying by credit card, property tax is cheaper when paid by check.

I must be missing something in this discussion in terms of understanding what people are doing.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by sunny_socal » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:36 am

Haven't done this in years. At least use excel or google sheets instead of a checkbook.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by DetroitRick » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:52 am

Whether manual or electronic, this process takes so little time that I would never consider skipping it. Mistakes do happen, and the reconciliation process has proven worth it for me. It really doesn't much matter whether you write physical checks anymore - electronic payments can bounce or get messed up, an expected inbound transfer can go missing, fraud can occur, or simple recording errors can be caught. Heck, I've even seen physical checks get posted for an incorrect amount by the bank. I only write 1 to 2 paper checks per month and am nearly entirely electronic, yet a few months ago my reconciliation process caused me to notice that an important check got lost in the mail.

I don't keep a paper register and haven't for at least 10 years. My register is just electronic (Quicken), and reconciliation occurs whenever transactions get automatically downloaded. Mint and other products would entail a similar quick and easy process. But even with manual reconciliation, or using Excel or equivalent, it just wouldn't take me more than a few minutes monthly, even with 25 to 50 transactions. It's just not that difficult or time-consuming. While the risk is moderate, the time required should be very minimal. I remain convinced it's worth it.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:08 am

I appreciate the feedback and the thread is providing very useful points to consider as expected.

We have decided to move forward with no longer recording every transaction in the check register for a few reasons:

* Minimal transactions flow through checking
* All transactions when possible flow to credit card
* Minimal checks written
* We are in the process of moving all due dates of bills to only two stated days a months to coincide with pay dates
* Dividing up amount of bills between due dates to better spread cash impact
* Moving the due dates of bills will reduce spreading things out and will provide a more real time available cash balance
* Planning to keep a little more in checking balance

The check register will now only include only two items:
* List of actual checks written
* "Escrowed" amount of cash building up for annual property taxes
* No other transactions will be written in register

Actual cash balance will now simply be the online balance (which we will continue to review) less the uncashed checks and escrow balance for taxes.

Result:
* Much more time for more enjoyable things in life
* More simplicity
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Dandy » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:41 am

I still reconcile checkbook statement to register for several reasons:

1. always did it. (not a good reason)
2. We pay bills on bill payment close to when received but using 3 or so business days prior to due date
If I didn't keep a register I wouldn't have a handy record of my uncommitted balance. Also, write an occasional check
to family e.g. birthdays, or occasional vendor, RE taxes, etc. sometimes it takes awhile to clear.
3. Get paper bills so my wife who doesn't usually pay the bills will know when they are due and how much uncommitted balance remains in the checking account. In case I'm ill or pass -she is not very internet savvy.
4. I don't like signing on to investment/savings/credit card accounts frequently.
5. At least once a month I know exactly what my uncommitted balance is.
6. Early career as an internal auditor kind of makes not reconciling go against my training. :happy

I do agree that the bank/credit union does a good job - haven't found an error on them in decades.

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by MikeWillRetire » Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:00 pm

I still balance it by hand to make sure I can still do the math!

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by MathWizard » Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:17 pm

My wife was a bookkeeper , I balance the checkbook, she reconciles the register with the bank statement.

We reduced some of the checks we write by using a Credit Card at the grocery store. We probably write only 1/3 the checks we used to.

When we were first married, I was in grad school and we needed to keep tight reins on spending, and the one CC was only for expenses that would've reimbursed, or for an emergency while traveling.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by MikeG62 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:45 pm

user5027 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:52 pm
Since 2005 I've kept a check register in excel and reconciled it against my monthly bank checking account statement. I actually reconcile it against my online bank account just about every time I log in to the bank account and stop on the monthly cut-off date.
I too maintain an electronic checkbook register in excel and do precisely this (reconcile it every time I log into my bank account). It takes seconds to do this.

The big benefit of using the electronic checkbook register is that I schedule all upcoming/expected payments/debits and based upon that know when I need to (and therefore can) transfer funds into my checking account to cover those payments. We routinely use a at least half dozen CC’s each month (some months even more). Plus, we have auto lease payments pulled from our checking account (as well as cell phone bill). So there is a fair amount of activity and most things have different payment dates. I don’t know how I would manage this (using a B&M checking account) without a check register.

This information, along with the detail of our monthly spending on our CC’s (another tab in the excel file), gets pulled into a third tab which summarizes our spending for the month and compares that spending to budget. It all works hand in hand and keeps me close to the details, which as a retired finance guy I appreciate.

As a side note, having a budget and knowing our spending provided a lot of comfort when we were hit with the unexpected need to replace our septic field last month (at a cost in excess of $20,000). With the details readily at hand, we were able to determine that we could manage this large (and unexpected) spending within our 2019 budget and thus it created no significant stress. This is a clear example where knowledge is power.
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Mr. Rumples
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by Mr. Rumples » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:03 pm

I still do it and am glad I did. A few months ago I changed one of my money market accounts at the credit union. I then noticed a change in interest in my checking account. Turns out the representative had also made changes to my checking account which I had not asked for.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by LilyFleur » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:13 pm

yangtui wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:19 am
I put pretty much everything I can on credit cards. Probably write one check per year on average. If I do need to pay an individual or small business I use online bill pay and let my bank issue the check/pay postage. I scan all of my activity online roughly once a month to make sure it looks right. As long as the totals fall within the expected range I am good. I suppose I could do a more detailed reconciliation but my free time is worth a lot.
+1
When my checks are deposited each month, I have set up auto transfers into different checking accounts that are then used to pay bills. For example, I have an HOA checking account. So I have set up auto transfers to this account twice a month, and then once a month, on the same day every month, my credit union electronically writes a check, prints it out, puts it in an envelope and mails it for me. (They do not accept credit card payments, or I would set up a recurring credit card payment.) I have also set up minimum payments for each of my credit cards on a recurring monthly basis. That way I never end up paying a late fee. (I also pay the cards off every month but it's a safeguard if I forget to pay by the deadline.) For my college-age children, auto transfers for their allowances are set up. I have one checking account set up for credit card payments, so when I go to the credit card web site to set up the payment, I use that specific checking account. I have a checking account for electric bill payments. Then when I pay my electric bill, I pay from that account, and I can check the trend of my bills quite easily. Cell phone and internet bills are auto-pay from my credit card, so I can dispute charges more easily if necessary. All medical co-pays and insurance premiums are paid with my Citi 2% Cash Back card, and it makes it easy to track those expenses at the end of the year by looking at the spending summary online.
My credit union gives me an unlimited amount of checking accounts, and I can view them all with their respective balances from one screen online. I guess I almost use my credit union like an online version of Quicken.
I don't like to spend a lot of time paying bills, etc. I would much rather hang out on this forum and learn how to manage my money better :D

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by andypanda » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:28 pm

The little booklet in the checkbook doesn't take up much space or time.

I write a check or go to the ATM - subtract it.
Make a deposit - add it.

I'm 69 and have always done it this way. It's not difficult.

Every month or so I check online to see if the balance matches.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by dm200 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:30 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:34 pm
Bogleheads -
Do you keep a checkbook register and reconcile each month? We have done this for many many years and are now questioning it for the following reasons:
1. We get paid twice and month and believe we can move due dates of bills to coincide with payroll. By having everything deducted we know pretty much in real time what’s left.
2. In the age of the internet, apps, and real time information, when logging into the bank it is close to our real time balance as we write minimal checks.
3. For the minimal checks we write, we could simply write that in the register so we know the outstanding items.
5. We have never experienced errors from bank and today’s technology provides a copy of the cashed check.
6. Would rather spend time doing more minimal things in life.
7. We stopped saving receipts on credit card and matching to statement each month over a year ago so this is the next logical step. Once a receipt clears online we discard it.
8. We are questioning because we are literally rewriting or copying what is online. Technology should make life and processes easier.
9. Stopped using personal finance software a decade after using for ten years. Did not find value any longer but we do know our debts, average expenses so we never missed it. Looked forward and not back.
We are in a huge push and journey to simplify and Minimalism. This can be a big difference.
I just use an Excel Spreadsheet. My wife's social security payment is direct deposited to her own checking account - and she pays very few bills - so hers now is very simple. I pay most of the bills (mostly checks and some electronic withdrawals). I get paid every two weeks and I get my SS payment direct deposited once a month. I also have two small retirement payments once a month.

Online, I regularly compare the bank's balance with my spreadsheet (about once a week) and am able to easily and quickly correct the spreadsheet.

This process does not take much time at all - and allows us to safely keep a small balance in the checking account.

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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by welderwannabe » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:32 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:34 pm
Bogleheads -

Do you keep a checkbook register and reconcile each month? We have done this for many many years and are now questioning it for the following reasons:
I use quicken. I also use it for budgeting by having it auto pupulate all my known bills 30 days in advance.
I am not an investment professional, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

hudson
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by hudson » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:35 pm

anonsdca wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:50 am
I adopted an Excel "Check Register" many years ago. Like many others on this thread, I write almost zero check, but it is really not about that. I treat my checking account like a business. A business has what they call an "operating account" and so that is how I think about it.

So, even though we may not write actual checks, we still need to know our balance and "unposted" charges--all the time. I agree with many that these "unposted" charges are visible almost immediately, but some are not. We still need to see our "true" balance at any given moment. When we make financial decisions, our true balance is a major consideration.

I don't think you can go "minimalist" on your operating account. That is the life blood of your life. That is your cash flow. Income in, expenses out. I track it daily.

Some will say that once you get to a certain net worth, it doesn't matter. I will disagree. You don't get to a position of great wealth, without paying very close attention to your operating account.
I do like anonsdca, except that I use Microsoft Money. I only use it for my "operating account". I reconcile it on the morning after every business day. Whenever Money goes away, I'll be checking with anonsdca for a copy of his Excel file.

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yangtui
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by yangtui » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:33 pm

andypanda wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:28 pm
The little booklet in the checkbook doesn't take up much space or time.

I write a check or go to the ATM - subtract it.
Make a deposit - add it.

I'm 69 and have always done it this way. It's not difficult.

Every month or so I check online to see if the balance matches.
Have you ever found a material mistake?

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abuss368
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:59 am

yangtui wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:33 pm
andypanda wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:28 pm
The little booklet in the checkbook doesn't take up much space or time.

I write a check or go to the ATM - subtract it.
Make a deposit - add it.

I'm 69 and have always done it this way. It's not difficult.

Every month or so I check online to see if the balance matches.
Have you ever found a material mistake?
That’s was part of my reasoning for wanting to move away from regurgitating the activity online into the checkbook register. I have never found a mistake by any bank.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

sport
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by sport » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:04 am

The problem with relying on the bank is when you write a paper check. The bank does not know you have written it until it clears. So, the bank shows you have more money available than you really do. My check register is always up to date and shows the true availability of funds.

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CAsage
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by CAsage » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:08 am

22twain wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:56 pm
CAsage wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:01 pm
what transactions would you want to need for history or future budgeting or record keeping? Some of those might be worth tracking, either in a spreadsheet or by retaining receipts.
Or by downloading and saving your monthly statements.
That won't give you the details of (for example) auto maintenance, medical treatment, capital improvements, appliances. And I would not find folders of PDF's from different credit cards to be very searchable for vendor or category. Perhaps scanning the different receipts? But receipts are a bit beyond the topic of just reconciling... wherein once you check, I never go back to any prior statement or utility bill! There was a lot of simplicity in that old accordion file folder system! Label the slots, stuff and forget. My mom had all her stuff in one of those, helped me out when she passed.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

aristotelian
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by aristotelian » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:16 am

No. I keep a cash cushion to prevent any risk of overdraft. I review account activity and credit card transactions at the end of the month and look for anything suspicious. Any amount over the cushion mount goes to an investment account.

MarkBarb
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by MarkBarb » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:25 am

We don't. I download all financial transactions to Quicken 2-3 times a week. I reconcile my accounts at that point.

We have a joint account. My wife and I can both write checks against the account. It seems like it would be a pain to coordinate the updates to a manual register.

We have seen some banking errors over the many years we've been doing this. It has been nice to catch them in days rather than when a monthly statement appears.

If our account was run closer to empty, a tighter process might be useful. As it is, we have lots of cushion. Interest rates are so low, that carrying extra cash in my checking account doesn't feel like a burden.

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abuss368
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by abuss368 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:32 pm

I must say the quality of the responses thus far have been excellent. The thread is providing valuable feedback.

Thanks Bogleheads!
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

user5027
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by user5027 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:12 pm

CAsage wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:08 am
And I would not find folders of PDF's from different credit cards to be very searchable for vendor or category.
I use the File Explorer in Windows to search by vendor on the pdfs of my monthly credit card statements. I just did it yesterday to find a deposit paid for my daughter's wedding reception in 2014.

hudson
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by hudson » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:32 pm

user5027 wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:12 pm
CAsage wrote:
Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:08 am
And I would not find folders of PDF's from different credit cards to be very searchable for vendor or category.
I use the File Explorer in Windows to search by vendor on the pdfs of my monthly credit card statements. I just did it yesterday to find a deposit paid for my daughter's wedding reception in 2014.
Thanks user5027! I also save PDFs of credit card statements. In Windows 10, I went to "My Documents" (Which includes hundreds of folders and thousands of files) and hit CTRL then F to search for a plumbing supplier. It found four PDFs in a second with the supplier's entries. I did not know that it would search inside PDFs...power!

ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:46 pm

I don't do manual reconciliation and haven't for many years. For a long time my system was pretty ad hoc but for the past few years I've done the following two key things which work very well:

-- Use You Need a Budget (YNAB) and have all my NON-investment accounts hooked up to it.
-- Have all our bank and credit card accounts send a push notification or text immediately on any transaction.

Using YNAB gives us strict budgeting, direct import of transactions (no manual entry), comprehensive transaction history, and mobile apps that my wife and I can use to check how much $$$ is left for the month on the go. We are religious about categorizing transactions, and every 4 months or so I export all the data in YNAB to CSV as a precautionary measure. So I have a history of every transaction we've made, in an open data format, going back to when we started using YNAB.

Getting push notification/text on any transaction gives me the chance to catch mistakes as they happen, in (mostly) real-time.

It's not a perfect system. Main issues are transactions don't show up in YNAB immediately, and some companies don't always send transaction notifications in real time (ahem Bank of America). Also I find YNAB to be (overly) complex. But these issues are relatively minor and I'm happy with this setup.

EDIT: I also find this system takes very little time to maintain once it's set up. Certainly much less than checkbook Reconciliation.

lostdog
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Re: Cash & Checkbook Register Reconciliation

Post by lostdog » Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:50 pm

I dropped quicken a few weeks ago. I now use check register template in Google sheets. It's super simple and free. I access it via my phone and my laptop.

We're also in the minimalism journey electronically and physically. We're moving most of our files to the Google cloud. For security we're using advanced protection two factor authentication.

One joint checking account and Vanguard. That's it.

If my health weakens, we're having PAS take over the investment side.
VTWAX and chill.

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