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When Will I Ever Learn to Quit Running the Checkbook So Low?


Today my husband had to make a special trip to the bank to deposit paychecks. Normally, I just put them in the mail because the 39 cents for a stamp is cheaper than the gas it takes to drive to the bank (it’s a little ways away). If I mailed them, our checks wouldn’t hit the bank until Monday.

But I did it again, I ran the checking balance too low because I didn’t take into consideration our anniversary and the spending we both would do (doh!) and there are automatic payments due to come out of our account so we had to get the checks in the bank today.

I get upset at myself because I seem to do this too often now. While I am very thankful no checks have bounced if I don’t try to resolve this soon it could happen.

I seem to be more forgetful now. Right now I have my cable payment sitting waiting to get mailed. It’s already late. Luckily, they do not charge a late fee as long as you pay it by the next month. I think right now I have debt-tunnel-vision. I’ve been paying the debt payments fine and on time but everything else is going to the wayside.

I guess this brings about a good point. While it is good to be aggressive with paying off debt, there is the possibility of letting the process of becoming debt-free take over your life. So, as with many things in life, you have to find a healthy balance that is right for you.

For me, I think it will involve actually leaving some money in our account or maybe even a small savings account. I’m not sure yet, but as with any problem a solution needs to be found.

I’m going to sleep on it to think about it more.


  • Reply muckdog |

    I gave up the chore of managing the checkbook. I just leave a little “buffer” in there. Plus online banking helps some…

    (Found you via browsing pfblogs.org)

  • Reply Donna |

    I leave a buffer of $100 in my checking account. I use quicken and added an entry for $100 so it doesn’t show up in the balance but I know I have a little breathing room. This won’t cover much but if there’s a small check/withdrawal that I forget to enter then I don’t have to worry as much.

    Donna (Prosper)

  • Reply Sheri |

    I also leave a buffer in my checking account. What helps me the most is on-line banking. With one monthly direct deposit, I was able to receive free checking as well as online banking with Bank of America (I think several banks may offer this service.) Mind you this was not explained well and I had to ask for this service even though I have been using the direct deposit function for years. Bank of America also offers a program called “Keep the Change.” When you use your debit card for say 5.01; the .99 is transferred to your savings account. Bank of America matches for the first 3 months and then a portion after. I have saved well over $100 since I have signed up for the program.

    I love your blog! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I think I will keep a buffer of $100 in the checking account and create an entry in Quicken as Donna suggested.

    Fortunately, I do have online banking and use it often. My husband sometimes hoards receipts in his wallet and seeing transactions online has helped a lot to keep track. And it’s neat because I know if he happened to get gas for the car (so I don’t have to do it later ;))

    That’s a pretty neat sounding program from BoA. I wish I had one around me!

  • Reply Henry |

    I also run my checkbook low at times but I do have a “buffer” savings account from which I can make transfers online into my checking account when needed. When the checking account gets replenished that transfer goes back to savings.

    I too am using the Bank of America Keep the Change Program. That account is essentially my buffer.

    Thank you for keeping this blog up, it will help me on my journey to eliminate our credit card debt as well. I found you through Scott Burns column a few weeks ago.

  • Reply Kim L. |

    I do the same thing! I am so focused on getting out of debt that our budget is pretty tight. When anything extra comes up, it can get a little hairy. I really need a buffer too but I tend to be a “spend what we have” type person so I just worry it will get spent on something and then it’s gone and no more buffer.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Henry – thanks for stopping by! Comments like yours help keep me going too 🙂

    Kim – that’s it exactly! If it’s there it might get spent. Might as well spend it towards debt lol. When you don’t have much in the checking account you are more likely to do more with less.

So, what do you think ?