View Full Version : dealing with the checkbook

08-13-07, 10:37 AM
So, I have this problem... I stopped keeping track of my checkbook in March, which happens to be the time my husband started working at a real job. I really want to catch up with it but naturally find the task completely overwhelming. It doesn't help that I know there was a $30 mistake prior to March, and that I've bounced some checks in the meantime. But I digress...

My default coping strategy is breaking a task into smaller pieces, and then tackling a piece at a time (i.e., one month per day for a week = 1 hours' work each night and a caught-up checkbook by the end of the week). This doesn't seem to be working in this case.

About 2 months ago, I sorted the debit card transaction receipts into neat piles by date. They are still sitting in my office, and have been joined by 2 months' worth of additional receipts. Plus there is the mess at the bottom of my purse.

I have been telling myself for two days that I'm not allowed to buy a certain item of clothing I've wanted for a while until I've done this.

But other than setting conditions for task completion, and breaking a big job into small pieces, what will help? Has anybody else been able to dig themselves out of this type of situation? If so, how did you do it?

08-15-07, 01:02 PM
I wish I could offer some sort of advice......but I can honsetly say I've never balanced a checkbook....well, maybe not never....I remember trying to keep up with it when I was about 17 years old.....after maybe a month or two I stopped keeping track of it...

So in my adult life I don't balance my checkbook. I simply can't keep up with it, and it seems silly to write down everything, when you could just call the bank and find out the balance......

Now I keep track of my balance online......thank God for online banking....

Does your bank have a website where you can keep track of all your account activity? Mine will even transfer it into Quicken (which I don't use).....

If it's an absolute must that you record everything in your checkbook, it's easy if it's online and you can just pull up your account history and work off that......instead of tracking all your debit card recipts......that would drive me insane....

08-17-07, 07:11 PM
I also don't balance my checkbook, probably because I dont use checks. :) I use my ATM card for everything and check it online. I can see exactully when and were i spent the money. I also had all my bills except my rent and CC on autopay because I would never pay them if I didnt.
When I first moved out on my own I forgot to pay by electric bill for like 6 months, so when I finally went in I just had them put it on autopay. Made my life sooo much easier...Now that I am married the hubby does all the bills..:D

Could your Husband help? Maybe do it together, it would for me at least seem less overwhelming having someone else there doing it with me. Even if he is just there to kinda talk you through it, or hand your papers may help.
I would ask for help personally, because if you feel overwhelmed you are going to not want to do it or just feel like you dont know where to start and just feel worse.

I know how this feels and when things get to much for me I will let my hubby know so he can be proactive to help me, get me going and redirect me when I get off course.

Lady Lark
08-17-07, 09:21 PM
I've done something close to that. I took over the finances for the group I was in, after the previous person decided he didn't want the job anymore, and didn't tell anyone for six months. Thankfully we didn't really have alot of transactions, but it still took me a solid 12 hours to clean all that mess up.

All I can think is now that you've devided the recipts (the hard part, IMO), just go month by month. Do a little at a time and it shouldn't seem as bad. That and (if you can) keep up wtih it once it's all back in order.

I know that probably doesn't help much.

08-20-07, 11:20 AM
Is this a trait for ADHD? I think somewhere I heard it was. I am obsessed with the checkbook and online banking because I am so poor at it and I still screw UP! My lastest booboo was writing a payment in the checkbook and forgetting to pay it online (yes I love paying for everything online). My husband is not ADHD but he constantly complains he can't do it. I do make him check my work just in case I REALLY screw up.

08-20-07, 01:04 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions (and sorry I was so slow to reply!)

I'm just going to do it piece by piece and then try to keep up with it. I used to be better about it, and know that I will be again. It's just getting through the next couple of months, you know?

08-26-07, 10:25 AM
my husband does the bill-paying and checkbook-balancing, as he is quite adept with that sort of thing. He actually enjoys it. I could do it if I didn't have him, but it wouldn't be pretty.

08-26-07, 10:57 AM
Per my financial advisor, I now keep all of my reciepts (cash or credit) in a little zipper pouch (like for pencils that you would use for school) and every week (ok more like every 3 weeks) I record it in a notebook. I also use my checkbook register to record every atm/check/debit. I found out that I was always off in my account because between my hubby and I both having access to one account....I was always missing something. It is more time consuming this way but no more guessing and no more bounced checks!

09-03-07, 09:20 PM
i dont use check book my mom does for me for things like doctor bills etc but my check card i go online for my account info balance etc

09-04-07, 01:12 AM
So, I have this problem... I stopped keeping track of my checkbook in March,

Do you have on-line access.

Look at amount they say you have and see what has cleared and what has not cleared. Use the present date as if you are beginning new. This will prevent you from falling further and further behind. It gives you a reference point to begin tracking your account again.

Then set aside time and use your reference point to work your way backwards. . is often time easier to recall more recent activities say last week than try to remember what happened all the way back in March. What ever you do don't sacrifice continuing forward to back track. Some people don't do the back track part depending upon your individual circumstance this may or may not be a problem. If you are self employed or own a small business I do not recommend leaving it until tax time. . . what a PIA that would be.

10-19-07, 03:36 AM
I've always been terrible with my money, luckily i've been diagnosed with add and am getting the tools to deal with it while i still have my parental safety net. THey just bailed me out of a huge credit card issue. I thought i had made a huge payment and hadn't, and thus accrued a slew of charges. I've payed it down completely and have stopped using it.
University life doesn't make it any easier, but i'm trying to get a handle on things. I really hope this isn't a life-long problem, because it causes a huge amount of stress and just plain sucks.

10-19-07, 11:10 AM
I have come to the conclusion that I am hopeless in this area, and that there isn't anything that will make me capable of keeping track of the checking account. My husband checks the balence all the time. I never have a clue. I had a friend who called this "Masterful financial mismanagement." Our credit is pretty much trashed, and we live in a really crappy rental. My car is 17 years old, but paid for. Not much help, am I?
I have lived this way for so long that I guess I'm just resigned to it. There is no way I'll ever be able to retire. Good thing I like my job....

10-25-07, 06:34 PM
I just start over in the current month. I don't bother trying to add everything that has pasted. I go through this all the time. For example I will let my checkbook go for three months (January, February, March), then the fourth month (April) I just start a new register and try to stick with it. Not sure if that is a good thing or not, but that is what I do. I can check my account online and that is how much money I know I have, LOL!

05-17-08, 11:32 PM
Separate checking accounts, the problem will still be there but it won't frustrate a non-add spouse as much.

05-18-08, 02:35 AM
What's a checkbook?

05-24-08, 04:13 AM
This won't be much help. Before I was about to be shipped off to debtors prison I turned all finances over to wife. Been great sailing ever since, and I can blame her for any problems. Not.

06-14-08, 07:49 AM
You're supposed to balance the checkbook??

Turning it over to the OCD/ADD hubby wouldn't help here.

06-24-08, 10:31 AM
Use Quicken !!!

Seriously. Sign up for Pay Bills On-Line. They will mail out all checks or pay them by wire. You can set this up through your bank or Quicken can be your bank too. Everything you pay using quicken is automatically added to your checkbook registrar. When you reconcile it automatically matches everything up. Any checks you write by hand you must enter manually and match manually. You quickly learn to write as few paper checks as possible.

It does take some dilligence and work to switch over and understand. But once it's all done it's very easy to maintain.

We have our credit card on it too (so that we can see all transactions). We force ourselves to have ONE credit card that is supported by quicken.

It does cost a monthly fee but it's well worth it.

My non ADD wife used spend hours and hours doing bills. Now she'll spend maybe an hour every couple of weeks. No more screaming and crying about getting things to balance.

06-24-08, 11:10 AM
I like balancing checkbooks and paying bills. I do a pretty good job of it, though I of course have a tendency to put it off. I like messing with numbers, though. Where I have problems is with organizing the bills, receipts, and aaalll that stuff. I have piles and boxes everywhere. I hate all those papers. Even though I do almost everything online, there are still never ending piles of papers.

My non-ADD dh hates dealing with bills and checkbooks. Bores him to death.

Edited to add: Quicken is very nice. If you can get past the time and details required to set up everything in Quicken, then you are home free. When I balanced my checkbook by hand, it would always be off by a few cents. I would spend the next hour going through it to figure out where I added wrong (even using a calculator, I would punch in a wrong number somewhere). It is the one thing I was meticulous about, lol. I couldn't stand not knowing where I made the mistake. Quicken almost completely eliminates that. The program does all the calculating for you!

06-25-08, 12:33 PM
I have a hard time w/ check books/debit cards too. Typically my husband & I use our debit cards for everything except bills. Those I either pay online or w/ a check, but don't record them anywhere. At the end of the week I go to the online banking and take the balance and minus the checks I wrote and that is what I have. The unfortunate part is that I have somethings debited automatically and I forgot those are about to come out and then I start bouncing. It is really frustrating but I just don't have the concentration to record stuff. Plus I don't know what my hubby is buying..... anyway, no help here!

06-26-08, 12:52 PM
My solution here won't work for everyone, but since we all seem to hyperfocus on the computer maybe using MS Money or an online register of some sort could help in the future.

As for what is already there, instead of putting yourself down to an hour each day, try shortening the time frame. Maybe give yourself 2 daily sessions at 15 minutes each. Checkbooks are horrible for us. Set up online payments or pay someone else to do your bills. I am paying my 12 yr old son $10 a week. (costs me less than all the Overdraft fees and late charges) Also teaches him a very valuable life lesson and he doesn't even realize it. Also he doesnt ask for as much because he knows how much money is there.

Also important to note that I have a seperate account set up for casual spending, my check is split into two accounts. One for bills, and a set amount for Pleasure.

I cancelled my debit card, that thing causes me nightmares.