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01/14/2003

Check, Please

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I wrote a check today. That might not seem like a big deal but I only write one check a month. Everything else is handled electronically through Quicken. And I love it that way.

I used to be the worst bill payer in the world. I only got around to doing it once a month. But I didn't do it pre-emptively. You know, paying all my bills for the coming month? No, I usually paid my bills somewhere in the middle of the monthly cycle. Meaning some bills were being paid very early, some were being paid just in time and of course, some were being paid late. Every month. The reason for this was because I used to get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. So the majority of the paychecks I received on the 1st went to rent and my car payment. Whatever was left over went to frivolous things like food and gas. So all my bills were going to be paid from the paycheck I got on the 15th. So even though some bills were due the 12th, I didn't have enough money to pay it until the 15th.

I'd get all my bills that I had collected during the month and spread them out in a circle around me. Then I had to open them all to throw out all the crap that came with the bill. All I wanted was the bill itself (one or two pages) and the return envelope. But there was SO MUCH extra crap that they put in each one of those bills. And it was all designed to sell you more stuff. I don't know if they put any research into this method, but bill paying time was the absolute worst time to try and sell me something. Seeing that two digit number serving as the balance of my checkbook did not put me in the purchasing mood. Quite the opposite in fact. Bill paying time was the time every month when I would formulate the beginnings of a personal budget and a move to radically change my spending habits. Once that feeling actually lasted until the next day. But usually I would forget about it until next bill paying day. Now I admit that part of my bad bill paying habits stemmed from the simple fact that I didn't have all that much money. Obviously it would have been easy to pay the bills before they came due if I simple had some money left over from the paycheck on the 1st of the month. But hey, that's not always the way things work out.

With Quicken, I pay stuff every two or three days. Just because it tells me too. Quicken says "Yo dude, you gotta pay this now." And I listen. I click a little button that sends the payment off. If it is more than usual, Quicken politely asks me if I'm sure that I want to do that and if so, should Quicken increase my monthly budget amount for that particular item. So friendly. I just click yes. I've never actually seen the budget in Quicken. I didn't set one up. But Quicken has created one for me somehow. So that's nice of it. Another benefit from having Quicken is I get to throw away all the paper that was in the original bill's envelope. Because I already have a record of the payment. And my Quicken file is the one file that I am a maniac about backing up.

Anyway this entry has gotten totally sidetracked. Because the reason I sat to write about this at all is because I wrote a check today. Every month I write Claudine a check for half of the mortgage. Yes we could have a joint checking account, but I'll save the story of that particular problem for a later entry. But as it stands now, we still have individual checking accounts. So that necessitates me having to write her a check every month. You'd think she'd set herself up to accept electronic transfers, but no she wants a check. A paper check. And so I wrote my check today for the January mortgage payment. And I got a little thrill as I filled in the date. I always get a little giggle when I fill out the date on my checks. But every January it gets a little funnier. Because I have to cross out the 19___ space on the check and write 20__. Yep, my checks are old. But I refuse to get new checks. I still have a box and a half of these checks. Each book has twenty five checks and I only write 12 checks a year. Do the math. I figure I can make these checks last until at least 2010, maybe further. And for some reason that makes me laugh.