Do you balance your check-book? I think that there are different types of check-book users. The breakdown goes like ths:
The Down-To-The-Raw-Copper Find-Every-Penny Guy: This guy balances his check book, every month, with every statement, down to the last penny. If he is off by even ONE red cent, he will search and search, calculate and recalculate, until his check-book is in perfect, justified order.
The Round-It-Up-A-Dollar Guy: This guy writes down the amount he writes his checks for, but he rounds up to the nearest dollar when subtracting from his balance, knowing that this insures that he will have enough money in his account for his transactions to clear.
The Willy-Nilly Race-It-To-The-Bank Guy: This guy uses his debit card, and doesn’t write his transactions down. He writes checks, and doesn’t write his transactions down. This guy KNOWS that 1:59 PM is still “on time” for making a deposit.
The Online-Banking-Hipster-Nerd Guy: This guy keeps track of all his financial transactions through his online bank, quicken, his PDA, his cellphone, and his Excel spreadsheet. Balance his checkbook? He IS the checkbook!
The I-Am-So-Disorganized-I-Don’t-Have-A-Checkbook Guy. This guy does not have a checking account, a savings account, or any other type of banking account. He uses his mom’s credit card, and pays for money orders to order his Hits From The Eighties Cassettes.
Truth is, I’ve been every one of these guys. When I first got a job, the only place I could cash my check was at my parents’ bank, and then I would just blow the money on teenager stuff. I also had a period where I was obsessed with checking my online banking account, 3 or 4 times a day. Now, I’m pretty much a cross between the “penny” guy and the “online-banking” guy. I like to know where my money is, where it goes, and when it gets there.
Seriously though. One of the signs of financial maturity is that you keep accurate records of your financial transactions. Understanding your financial past will help you to improve your financial future. So, write down your transactions, balance your checkbook, keep up with your receipts, and be smart with your money.
(I actually know a married guy who does not have a bank account. He pays Wal-Mart 3 percent of his check, every month, just so that they can cash his check. I’ve asked him about this, and he if fearful of using a bank, a debit card, a check card, an ATM, anything. From what I gather, somewhere in his past his family hit really, really hard financial times, and he doesn’t like to talk or think about it. It’s really, really sad. He lives in this very strange mode, unable to move forward because of his own fears and ignorance. He is a great guy, but he refuses to educate himself about money.)