Over the weekend I was once again reduced to having to enter the month’s myriad charges into Quickbooks. Wonder-Accountant has suggested that instead of wadding receipts into a file folder and forgetting them, I should organize them and staple them to the relevant month’s statement, a strategy conducive to her reconciling the books.
For a person with English-major math skills, doing the bookkeeping is a monthly exercise in self-torment. I just hate fiddling with dozens and dozens of nuisancey little pieces of paper, no two of which have the date in the same place. The accursed Safeway receipts show you how much you supposedly “saved” by presenting your fraudulent red card, thereby getting them to refrain from charging more than the actual retail price for groceries and household goods. So you have to sit there and study the things to figure out which figure represents the amount that actually was charged to your card. The pieces of paper get lost, and so every month SOMETHING doesn’t show up in Quicken, so then you have to kill more time trying to figure out what the charge on the statement means.
This weekend I finally lost patience with that routine.
I’ve decided to go back to the antediluvian process of paying routine bills with checks. It costs more—you have to buy the damn checks. But it creates a paper trail (which cash does not), and you don’t have to fiddle with a thousand little pieces of paper to pay a monthly bill. The bill is paid when you make the buy.
My plan now is to use the charge card only for tax-related purchases that require me to have a receipt and for big-ticket items like appliances and major repair bills. All the rest of the little pieces of paper will go straight into the trash. The small, routine stuff will be strictly pay as you go. Since I’m pretty well behaved about entering my checks in the register, to put those expenses into Quickbooks all I’ll have to do is copy them out of the list in the register. The credit union has upgraded its online banking software so I can view my checks without having to switch from Firefox to Safari, and I can download them to disk with a simple right-click. When the statements come in, I’ll just copy every check to disk. Time Machine will back them up to a hard drive, and voila! A virtual paper trail.
And if that turns out to be too much of a nuisance? Then once or twice a month I’ll go to the credit union and withdraw $500 or $1,000 in cash to use for discretionary spending. Rather not: cash does flow through my fingers like water. But I have had it with the little pieces of paper.
Regressive? Probably. We’ll see if it makes life better.
Is there any modern convenience in your life that you’ve decided to abandon in favor of regressing to an older way of doing things? Why?
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