Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is my generation being set up for financial failure?

Most of the time when I purchase something, I use my debit card.  I very rarely carry cash, as it's not convenient to go to the ATM or band to withdraw cash.  Do you know anyone else like this? 

When my debit card comes out, so does my "Check Card Register" courtesy of the lovely Bank of America.  When that "Check Card Register" gets full of entries, I have to go to the BOA to request a new one. 

Often, when I request a new one, the bank employees have a hard time finding one. 

Each time I pull out my debit card register, I write the amount of the purchase down and subtract it from the money in my account.  It seems simple, but most of the time when I'm doing this I feel RUSHED.  There are people behind me waiting, and I have to move along. 

Quite often, the person I am with or the person behind the counter comments.  "You balance your checkbook?  You are SO good!" 

Growing up, my mom always balanced her check book when using a form other than cash at the store.  So did everyone else I saw.  Nowadays, it's a rarity. 

There are many factors that contribute to my perceived "being set up for financial failure."  But the speed and ease of transactions is something small that I feel like really contributes.  Doing things quickly and easily can take the thought out of an action--making money and purchases seem less concrete than they are. 

Also, what about checks?  I rarely write checks anymore.  While everything is automated and it's wonderful, it still takes time and thought to write a check.  Even wish cash you have to handle it and count it out.  It's more thought provoking than sliding a card. 

And credit cards!  Think of those!  I have one, I make meaningless purchases on it.  I'm guilty.  What if credit cards came with little registers to add up the balance?  Awesome.  I'm going to borrow one of the BOA ones I got to start doing this.  Awareness of what I'm charging will hopefully help. 

So, friends, what do you think?  Do you balance your checkbook?  Use a debit card?  Cash?  Credit card?  Checks all the time?  How does it affect your spending? 

(Photo:  My debit card register.  Never mind all the money I spent at Sureshot : )

7 comments:

Amber Dawn said...

I use my debit card almost all the time. I used to use cash when I worked about 14hrs per week at safeway and couldn't afford to live; I just cashed my weekly check and put it in my desk drawer. Seems I was more careful with my money then than now when it's all stashed away at the bank. Especially online purchases - ultimate danger. I am really bad about keeping track of what I spend.. but I do check my bank balance a lot. And when I was working, I used to write out a budget on Excel and see how much money I could afford to spend per day after bills and stuff. I didn't always follow it but at least I tried. reading this is kind of inspiring me to try harder with keeping track though.

BlueAmiah3 said...

Yeah. I totally suck at that sort of thing. Andrew has this fancy budget and stuff, but I just can't follow it for the life of me. I'd like to get better at it though.

Amy said...

I don't think it's a generational thing. Most people are bad about balancing their checkbook. And when you have a partner, it gets a lot harder to keep track. Before Aaron and I married, he wrote one check a month (for rent) and paid cash for everything else. So what he had in his wallet and his ATM receipt was what he had. It totally worked for him and I think it works for most people.

For me (pre-marriage) I would ONLY write checks, and only looked at my balance when using monthly statements to reconcile. What I had in my checkbook register was what I had. Of course I was really picky, I had a list that I'd label each check with a number indicating what category it was for, then matched it to my budget on a spreadsheet (early 90's excel was about as good a program as you could get.) I'd even ask the clerk for the food stamp total of my grocery store purchase so I could separate out "household needs" and "food" on the memo line of the check. (Anal, I know.)

The problem wasn't either system--it was figuring out a way to combine them!!

Phase 2: We compromised mainly by me doing most of the shopping, and giving him cash for daily spending. Got a MS Money program in 98, but still balanced the same way as on paper. But once we had kids, about once a year I'd make an error somewhere and bounce a bunch of checks over a 2-3 day period before realizing it.

Phase 3: When I started college, I couldn't be so picky, or afford to make frequent mistakes, so I used a system more like Aaron's single days: Auto bill pay for the amount I expected the bill to be, and between quarters checked to see if I was a few dollars ahead of behind and go through a stack of old mail to look for medical bills. Then added them to bill pay just to avoid writing checks. Not the best system, but it got me though school. At Twin Star CU it deducts the money day it sends it off, so two days after payday, whatever was left in the account was spendable.

Phase 4: I got an older version of Quicken on amazon.com for cheap. And update it from my bank with one click frequently. Still use expected or average amount for monthly bills, and debit card for most other things, but record checks every night I write them in Quicken. It's what has worked best so far. I also have our credit card account on there, so I DO see a running total in the left column every time I make a purchase or payment. (Great to see it go down each month!)

Amy said...

I don't think it's a generational thing. Most people are bad about balancing their checkbook. And when you have a partner, it gets a lot harder to keep track. Before Aaron and I married, he wrote one check a month (for rent) and paid cash for everything else. So what he had in his wallet and his ATM receipt was what he had. It totally worked for him and I think it works for most people.

For me (pre-marriage) I would ONLY write checks, and only looked at my balance when using monthly statements to reconcile. What I had in my checkbook register was what I had. Of course I was really picky, I had a list that I'd label each check with a number indicating what category it was for, then matched it to my budget on a spreadsheet (early 90's excel was about as good a program as you could get.) I'd even ask the clerk for the food stamp total of my grocery store purchase so I could separate out "household needs" and "food" on the memo line of the check. (Anal, I know.)

The problem wasn't either system--it was figuring out a way to combine them!!

Phase 2: We compromised mainly by me doing most of the shopping, and giving him cash for daily spending. Got a MS Money program in 98, but still balanced the same way as on paper. But once we had kids, about once a year I'd make an error somewhere and bounce a bunch of checks over a 2-3 day period before realizing it.

Amy said...

Oh, sorry I posted twice. It told me it was too long so I didn't think it posted!

Aspiring Millionaire said...

I do worry about our generation, many of us just aren't taught. Thankfully we're not all that way.

I am appalled by how many people put it on the card and don't think about it at all. Good to see you're not like that! :)

Fundaau said...

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