Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Balance Your Checkbook

Our oldest son is 18 and graduated from high school this past May. He's been at the same part-time job for almost two years now. When he started working, we went to our bank and opened a checking account for him. Because he was under 18 at the time and still a student, a parent's name was required to be on the account along with his name. He also received a debit card to use with the account.


Since my name is still on the account, I can go to our bank's website to access all account information and view all of his transactions. One of the first things I do every morning is check our bank accounts online and make sure everything is correct and accounted for. Because his account information is right there in front of me, I got into the bad habit of filling in and balancing his checkbook for him. Now, this has become a HUGE problem!

He truly, honestly thinks that it's a waste of time to record anything in a checkbook register. "Why write it in the register when I can just look it up online whenever I want?" is what he tells me. Because of this, he has not written a single entry in his checkbook register for months and months. Because I'm such a stickler for details (some may say control-freak) I have taken it upon myself to look up his account each day and fill in his checkbook register with all of his transactions. He doesn't really ever write checks; mostly just uses the debit card. I'm realizing that this is only enabling him to shirk his responsibilities. It's not teaching him to get into the habit of doing it for himself. But, no matter what I do, he simply will not use the checkbook register. Grrrrr!

I went on strike, so to speak, and totally quit doing it for about a month and he really couldn't have cared less. He still didn't touch it. I'm ashamed to admit I caved and took it over again (the stress of his checkbook being behind and out of order made me a nervous wreck).

So, my questions for you are as can I convince him that it's necessary to actually write his transactions in his checkbook register? If you have teens or older kids with checking accounts, do they keep up with their own checkbooks? In this digital, online age, am I over-reacting to his wanting to keep up with his account only online?



cd0103 said...

If is not writing checks, why does he need to keep up a paper registry? I am confused.

April said...

I'm probably closer in age to your son, but my grandmother and mom both give me this "shpiel" thought they have nothing to do with my account. My mother finally caved and said with the advent of the internet, there really is NO need to keep a physical check register. I agreed. My grandmother didn't. I use my debit card for a LOT of items throughout the day, and especially when I'm traveling. There's no way I would have time to sit down, write it all out, and try to keep track of it - and it seems completely needless to me since at the end of the day all my transactions are right there online!

I say save your time and don't bother with physical check registers. Unless he's actually writing CHECKS (which people rarely accept these days) there's no need. Just MHO!

Pina said...

I agree with April, especially if there is everything online. In my opinion it is best to leave this to your son, he is a grown up person. Besides, I wouldn't check his account at all, this is his private matter.

Btw - happy belated birthday! :)

JamericanSpice said...

I don't have a child at that age as yet, but I'm hoping when I do, they will use a checkbook or they wont have a debit card.

If they are over the age of parental consent, then they will have to deal with the consequences of learning how to be responsible with their own financial decisions.

I understand how you feel though. I wish I had tips to help.

But you could get him a free financial consultant one on one for a start.

Good luck!

Spaz said...

I have to agree that if checks are not being used, there's little/no use for a checkbook. The primary purpose is to always know what funds you have available even with checks outstanding. With today's heavy use of debit cards, I don't think this is an issue. When a debit card is used, the funds are automatically marked as unavailable, even if the transaction doesn't technically clear immediately. Thus, you can't really "bounce" a debit/POS purchase.

sewinginthegap said...

I think you are asking if you should be doing it or not, and I think you know the answer to that, and its No....hes a big boy now, and should be allowed to run his account independently. Let him operate it the way he wants, save yourself the heart ache, and let go !! You'll be doing his future partner a favour if you do.