I can tell you the exact date that I gave up trying to balance my checkbook. It was the day I married my husband on June 25th, 2005. It was just too darn hard. He would forget to bring home his receipt, or I would lose mine in my purse, which, by the way, could house a small child (there may even be enough food in there to sustain him/her for a few days). Anyway, I decided to just use our debit cards and check my bank account frequently to make sure we had enough money. Well, that worked alright at first, but now that we have an extremely minimal savings account to cover any overages in our checking account, I had to rethink my strategy.
I decided that my husband and I would go back to the old way of handling things. I confiscated our debit and credit cards and am dealing only in cash from now on. Well, mostly in cash. Obviously I have to put money in the bank to pay bills by check or automatic draft. Anything that is not a set monthly recurring bill or purchase, however, will be paid in cash. Any food, gas, diapers (oh, how we go through the diapers), or entertainment will be paid in cash. It may make it a little more annoying going to the gas station (I HATE going inside), but we will just have to deal.
Over the years I have realized that using our debit and credit cards has made us spend more money than we have. I think, “I’ll just put it on the card”. Well, we now have a whopping amount of credit card debt to show for it. So, I figure if we cut up our debit and credit cards (minus one for emergencies, which I may freeze in a block of ice), it will be much harder to live beyond our means. I will withdraw our budgeted allotment the first of each month and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s definitely not what we are used to, but hey, they did it this way once upon a time. My husband has agreed to this plan, so we will see how it works. Keep an eye out for my next update. I am sure this will be a very eventful and frugal month for us.