Why You Should Stop Using Your Old Checkbook Register

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments

Why You Should Stop Using Your Old Checkbook Register
By Reed Armstead

Banks used to give away a lot of things. Maybe you received a toaster for opening a new account, or you got another place setting of flatware for every deposit you made to your savings account. The one thing banks never hesitated to give away was the checkbook register. In some cases you even got a free cover to go with it.

This was great in the era of one checking account, paper withdrawal slips, and payment by one carrier – the US Mail. But times have changed, and now we are in the era of multiple (and often interrelated) accounts, multiple types of transactions and multiple payment platforms. Banks rarely give away toasters any longer and are getting stingier about giving away registers. There’s a reason for that.

With the growth of electronic banking, banks learned there is enormous profit in fees. Every overdraft fee you pay goes directly to your bank’s bottom line. The less likely you are to know your balance, the more likely you are to overdraw your account and incur fees. Bad for you, good for your bank. Online banking is mainstream. Banks want you to believe that checkbook registers are passé.

Maybe you’re still diligently keeping a checkbook register. If so, good for you. Tracking your money and knowing your balance is the basis of financial control. Ask yourself: Who knows your balance first? You or your bank? That’s really the litmus test for financial control. If the answer is “your bank” or if you have to ask your bank for your balance, you fail. However, if you’re keeping track of your money and maintaining your checkbook register, you pass. You’re in control of your finances. Financial control and tracking are the first steps to eliminate debt and start building wealth.

These days, transaction speed and the numerous choices for payment make tracking more challenging. There are checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, online payments, investment and retirement accounts, direct deposits, electronic fund transfers, automated payments, and the list goes on. In fact, it’s becoming almost impossible to track everything with the tried-and-true paper checkbook register. Relying on online banking might seem like the solution, but it’s not.

If you keep a checkbook register, you probably know that your online balance and your checkbook balance rarely match. The bank typically shows a higher balance, called a false positive. False positives lead you to believe you have more money than you do, so overdraft fees are lurking and ready to pounce.

False positives occur when:

You write a check that hasn’t yet cleared
You make an online purchase that may not be posted for days
You pay a utility bill directly on the utility’s web site, and the money hasn’t been removed from your account yet
An auto-withdrawal payment is either a few days early or a few days late
In addition to the problems false positives create, paper registers also present the challenge of remembering to make entries. Perhaps you scribble a note about a check on a scrap of paper and lose it, forget to enter a debit card purchase, or simply make a math error. You have good intentions to keep an accurate register but fail.

In order to maintain financial control, you must keep track of your account balances accurately, and that’s almost impossible to do with a paper checkbook register. You need a new smart electronic checkbook register. One that is robust enough to track all of the different accounts you have and all of their balances. This includes checking, savings, and investment accounts as well as direct deposits, automated payments, budgets, and plain old cash. Additionally, you have to know your credit card balances to avoid declined cards and over-the-limit penalty fees.

Your old paper checkbook register can’t keep up. You could use Excel or another spreadsheet program, an app like Mint, or rely on online banking. The problem with these is that they are “out of sight, out of mind” at the time of transaction. With your old paper register, your register and your checks were together, prompting you to verify your balance before you wrote the next check and to record it as soon as you did. Ideally, you need a smart electronic checkbook register that keeps your balance and your payment method (e.g. your credit card or debit card) together as well. It should also give you the opportunity to record your payment as soon as you make it.

While there have been new electronic financial calculators, they have typically been too simplistic, and none captured the essence and true benefit of the old paper checkbook register like the Debit Tracker does. Just like your old checkbook register, it keeps an accurate balance, without falling victim to false positives, and keeps your debit or credit card together with your balance, so you know it before you spend.

Plus, you’ll want a smart checkbook register that will help you track multiple accounts accurately and efficiently. Moreover, the best smart checkbook register will allow you to see all of your income and expenditures in real time by account, by category, by subcategory, by budget, by vendor, and by business expenses, and provide a way to print reports.

When you can combine all of these factors in keeping track of your balances and knowing your balances before you bank does, you will have the benefits of your old checkbook register and a lot more. And again, the real reason for using a smart checkbook register is “When money’s tight and it’s gotta be right, track it or lack it.”

Watch a video on why you need a smart checkbook register

The Debit Tracker is the first smart checkbook register that delivers real financial control while enabling users to manage multiple financial accounts electronically and in real time. This innovative smart money tracker lets users track up to 50 different accounts with over 100 spending categories. Plus it provides Bill Alerts, so you know which bills are being paid every day via auto-withdrawal. Learn more about this smart checkbook register at: http://trackitorlackit.com/yes-you-can-get-out-of-debt/. Also, be sure to read Good Habits, Good Life! 5 Habits to Build Wealth… One Step at a Time, written by Reed Armstead, to learn more about the relationship between money and happiness as well as keys to escape debt and build wealth.
Reed Armstead, co-founded Debit Tracker, Inc. and now serves as the CEO running the day-to-day operations. With the responsibility for research and development to implement the best features for the product, he also takes responsibility for the overall direction of the company and its important advocacy strategy.

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