In today's world of electronic payments, it's easy to forget to record a purchase after you slide your card. I have found whether I have time at the check out counter, or if I record a purchase later in the car or at home, my check book transaction register is still a great tool for bookkeeping. I just didn't find the 'normal' method of recording transactions worked well for me. Here is what I now use and find it a great way to keep track of expenditures. It takes just a moment to set up each month and is invaluable when I inevitably need to look up any old payments.
I use three different colored 'post it notes' small tabs on my check register pages to mark three separate pages:
At the top of each page, I write what the month and year is as well as what that page is: PAY CHECKS, JANUARY 2011; MONTHLY BILLS, JANUARY 2011; EXPENDITURES 2011. This way, I can easily relocate this information when I need to months down the road.
On the first page of my register, I record our weekly paychecks, when they came in and how much. On the same page, I also record our tithe, when it was paid, how it was paid (check or debit card) and how much.
On page two (easy to find with the colored tab), I list our monthly bills, such as electric, insurance, mortagage, etc. these are all paid electronically by our bank, so I note the amount to be paid and when the bank will disburse the funds.
On the third page, I enter anything I needed to purchase as living expenses for that month; groceries, gas, household expenses and any 'surprises'.
The colored tabs make it easy to find the groupings, and the three groupings make it incredibly easy to find information quickly if the need arises.
Recently I had to go through a year's worth of living expenses to find out what our average costs for the year previous were for things like insurance, cable, phone, electricity, etc. It took me all of 15 minutes. No searching on websites, no fiddling with paper files, just 12 transaction registers and my calculator!
Sure hope this helps someone out there as much as it's helped me!
By T Jackson from Tampa, FL
I don't use a check register any longer, except for the very few checks I write each month. I save my receipts from any transaction and check those against my checking account online which I view every day or so. This shows you your account activity in real time. You can check to see if a direct deposit has been received (payroll or Social Security) and see scheduled payments as they occur (utility bill, phone, insurance etc.) No need to wait for a paper statement once a month.
Hi, thanks for a very timely tip! My husband and I have tried many variations of bookeeping and so far I have yet to find one that I will consistently use. I have not kept a check register in 10 years and I can't remember the last time that I even balanced my checkbook. I'm sure that's probably not a good thing.
I am going to try your idea because it sounds similar to how I keep track of our money. Right now, I take a plain notebook and write down each pay period what our combined income is. Below that I list all the bills and savings and auto-bills (the "must-pays"). When I have my new total then I start subtracting our "incidentals" including grocery and other things that vary from month to month. It helps me see when we're getting to the end of our money for that pay period. I usually keep a little extra in the checking account so just keeping a straight register doesn't work as well for me because there's more money in there than just what we've been paid this pay period. I don't want to spend all that down to zero.
Lately I've been thinking I need to keep a check register but wasn't sure how to integrate my system within the confines of the register. But I think i do now! Thanks!
I really like the idea of posting transactions by group. I can see where that would make year-end record gathering much easier. I must give it a try. TNX and Blessings.
Good idea! I'll start preparing now for new and improved 2013 checkbook registers. TNX and Blessings
Ha! It was a good idea a year ago, too! Life intervened and I obviously didn't try it out. We'll see for '13, but it would still be a better way for me to track finances even a year from now. TNX again and Blessings, too.
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