Do You Still Balance Your Checkbook?

In this day of electronic financial transactions, the paper check is going the way of the dodo bird: extinct.

Sure, we all write a check now and then, for those few places or people who don’t accept payment electronically. For us, checks go to the town for the quarterly water bill, or to a medical professional when we don’t want to pay with a credit card.

But what about the check register? What are we doing with those?

I’ve always been the period who dutifully collected receipts and entered them into my checkbook as necessary — sometimes daily, but more often, once a week. Anytime I’ve had a bill online or had an automatic deduction coming up, I’ve noted it in my checkbook.

Now that I have a smartphone, I have my handy-dandy Mint app. And I don’t feel the need to put everything into a checkbook register, since most deductions happen automatically (or within a day or two). But what happens when I schedule bills to be paid online ahead of time? If I have 5-6 things scheduled, such as the mortgage payment, utility bills and car payment, what happens? In the end, I want to know what our account balance will be AFTER the online bill payment goes through. I want to make sure I don’t have a low balance.

Is there a way to stop balancing your checkbook in this case? It doesn’t seem possible. Anyone have a solution? Is there an app for that? Save Money, Feed the Hungry

As I’ve probably mentioned a billion times before on this blog (and in real life to all my friends and family), I love a deal. And to get a deal, you have to do some research before buying. I’ve never been a spontaneous Sally — I need to find the best price AND, hopefully, a coupon or promo code before making a purchase, whether it’s clothes or a major appliance or a cable/internet/phone bundle (see our new FIOS contract triumph).

You have to really search well to find promotional codes for online retailers. Not all stores offer online discounts, but it can’t hurt to look.

There are also a number of websites that “collect” promo codes for a number of retailers in one place. Some of the more common ones include, and

But the one that’s most impressed me is a newer site called — for every coupon or discount code you use for one of their featured retailers, they donate a portion of their commission to feed hungry children. The company is family-owned and represents more than 5,000 merchants, and since October 2012, they’ve provided more than 95,000 meals to malnourished children through their nonprofit feeding partners.

I’ve found great coupons for discounts and free shipping for major department stores like Macy’s and Gap, and I’ve also come across other retailers we use, such as RadioShack and BestBuy.

So not only can you save money, you’re helping others. And I can get behind that.

Online Grocery Shopping Saves Money

My original plan was to take Emily grocery shopping with me today, but then I thought better of it. Miss Independent doesn’t do well in shopping carts right now — she’d rather run around the store and wreak havoc. Sorry, Charlie — that’s not going to happen.

Instead of doing some night shopping, I decided to do another shop-from-home order. I find it much more relaxing — I can take my time with the sales circular, match up coupons and truly buy what we need. I do it this way maybe once a month. The cost is $10 for them to fulfill your order, but you get every 5th order fee-free, so it averages to $8 for each online order.

Today, they had a special: Spend $150, get $20 off as a coupon. It was only available for the shop-at-home online service. So while it cost me $10 to do the order, I got $20 off — a net savings of $10.

All told, I also wound up saving $35 between sales and other coupons. Definitely better than bringing a fiesty 2-year-old to the grocery store, then spending all of your time trying to keep her in the cart and entertained!