Paper Checkbook Registers or Online Banking: Which is Best?

16 Jul Paper Checkbook Registers or Online Banking: Which is Best?

Paper checkbook registers? Ask around; they seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs. Why keep track of your checking account using paper, of all things, when the bank helps you do it online with no fuss and no muss? Well, maybethe paper checkbook register questionis not as simple as it seems — especially for those who habitually spend more than they should. Maybe for some, the lowly paper checkbook register should be their best friend.

Why? Because keeping a paper checkbook register makes a person feel differently about his or her money. Keeping a paper checkbook register enables a person to keep track of expenditures accurately and immediately, in real time as expenditures are made. Using a paper checkbook register, neither the bank nor anyone else intervenes between you and your checking acount balance. And that’s the key to responsible personal financial management — feeling empowered, knowing that you control your money and that no one else controls it.

Let’s face it, overspending is not caused by an inability to add or subtract — it’s caused by how people feel about theirmoney,and what they think they know. It’s like dieting: the problem isn’t a failure to understand how to add up calories, it’s a failure to understand how human emotion drives a certain behavior, eating. Similarly, overspending is driven by a failure to recognize how human emotion drives a another behavior, spending money.

You need something, you buy it. Without a paper checkbook register, you can wait until later to find out, online,what your checking balance is or if you can afford the expenture. Someone else, your bank, has been keeping your most important bank record, if you don’t use a paper checkbook register. This is bound to have an effect on how you think about your checking account balance.

If you’re living from paycheck to paycheck,and relying on your bank’s online statement to keep track of your checking balance for you, consider the idea of going back to your paper checkbook register for awhile. Every time you write a check or pay for a purchase with your checking debit card, write it into the paper register, just like you did before there was online banking. You will feel more in control, and it might even help you understand how to better manage your money.

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Craig W. Andresen is a consumer bankruptcy lawyer in Bloomington, Minnesota, with 22 years’ experience in consumer and small business bankruptcy cases. He is the Minnesota chair of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section. Mr. Andresen lectures often on the topic of consumer bankruptcy at local and national legal seminars.
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