I am writing this post while I am in the midst of trying to reconcile my checkbook and then pay my bills. I usually try to do the reconciliation when the statements arrive so I don’t have to do both tasks, which are very tedious, at the same time. This month, I didn’t manage to do that.
The fact that I even reconcile my checkbook makes me a bit of a dinosaur. If you google about check reconciling, you get mixed answers. Anecdotally, I know that young people, like my sons, don’t balance their checkbook. Most young people write only a few checks; they often don’t even carry money.
We don’t write that many checks but we do use our ATM card a lot. ATM purchases and automatic withdrawals make up most of our bank statement. I probably still balance my checkbook every month because my mother taught me how to do it years ago and it is a habit.
Paying the bills is actually easy because I pay them online. What takes time is sorting through all the snail mail to weed out what I have to pay each month. Most of the mail is repeat requests for donations. I schedule my charitable giving throughout the year so I usually only donate to each organization once. That doesn’t stop them from sending me monthly or even more frequent reminders. It is such a waste of paper.
The other part of bill paying that takes time is recording the amounts in Quicken. Credit card bills often have several purchases which have to be coded into different categories. That can take a lot of time. I originally got Quicken to be able to track how much we were spending each month. I also use it to balance the checkbook; using it is another habit.
Reading what I have just written makes me realize that it might be time to examine these habits and see if I need to continue them. Surely there is an easier, less time consuming way to track my expenses.
I also realize that I am extremely fortunate that I have enough money to cover my needs and live comfortably. I know that this is a very difficult time for many people who are facing evictions and lack of employment. I so hope that Congress will pass an interim COVID relief package before President Biden is inaugurated in January.