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I love Seinfeld. I love his little jokes that he throws into his shows. “What’s the deal with lampshades?! I mean, if it’s a lamp why do you want shade??” He seems to be the only comedian who can cover a wide range of topics and still be VERY family friendly! I love how Seinfeld can take everyday concepts and poke it a little until it is funny! He even has a bit about checkbooks. Take a minute to listen to this funny bit it will make this balancing a checkbook blog post a little lighter!
At this point, you are probably thinking, “what’s the deal with balancing my checkbook??” It is not everyday you hear someone talking about balancing their checkbooks. It actually feels a little faux paus these days! I myself was curious to know what people out there were thinking, so I held an Instagram Stories poll. I asked “Do you balance your checkbook?”:
I do not think many of us are actually surprised by the results. (In fact, I also questioned that on Instagram Stories, and the majority said they were also not surprised!) But, it makes me wonder why people are not balancing their checkbooks. Perhaps one may think it is a waste of time. Perhaps some people do not know how to balance their checkbook. And, perhaps for some it is a little of both. Maybe you do not have the time to teach yourself how to balance your checkbook!?
My hope is that by the end of this blog post you will at least put a little more consideration on the importance of balancing your checkbook moving forward. Because, I am here to tell you that there is, in fact, value in knowing exactly where your money goes, and when!
Why is balancing a checkbook good?
Let’s say you are not balancing your checkbook and all of a sudden you realize your bank balance has dropped by a few hundred dollars. This may cause some of you to pause, and then move on without giving it a second thought. Maybe you thought it was your car payment going through? What if it was not, though? What if it was fraud on your account, and you did not notice it because you are not balancing your checkbook? The things people can do these days is incredible! I have had fraud on my account several times, and thank goodness the bank is on top of things and called me right away. But, what if the bank was not on top of things? AND I was also not balancing my checkbook… Perhaps those charges would have just gone through without anyone noticing.
There is value in balancing your checkbook, even beyond the fraud situation, for the simple reason of knowing exactly what is going on in your checking account. Being in charge and directing where your hard earned monies are going that is freeing! Imagine, not having to pay bank fees for overdraft charges because you forgot you wrote that check back in December and now all the money has been spent, and the vendor you wrote the check to is just now cashing it! Do not let these little things slip by!
Who should be balancing their checkbooks?
I think it is key here to say who should actually balance a checkbook. I believe it should be anyone with a checking account. I know, you think I am crazy right now. But, seriously, if you have a checking account you should keep a list of all of the ins and outs that go down in that account. I would also say it is especially important for those who use their debit cards, and for those who also write checks (yes, checks still exist!).
When should you balance your checkbook?
My rule of thumb here is at the end of every month, at least. If you balance your checkbook at the end of the month it can be a retrospective as to how you spent your monies during the previous month, and how that lines up with your budget. That retrospective view hopes to inform and encourage the current month’s spending habits, because you can see what sort of life changes you need to make in order to line up expenses with your budget. I usually do this a couple of days before my paycheck arrives in my bank, that way I already know how I am spending my money before it even gets here. I find that this method helps me stay more accountable to not spending money I do not have nor spending it too freely.
How should you balance your checkbook?
It is really as simple as writing things down in the checkbook ledger the bank provides. It can also be as simple as carrying a notebook with you and writing things down. I am a huge proponent of Google docs (and writing things down, thanks Mom!) so, I keep my check ledger housed there, and then I am able to access it through my phone.
Here are a few rules of thumb for balancing your checkbook:
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here.
In our last blog post we learned that being a notary can be a side hustle. This week we continue learning more about making money on your own outside of the typical 9 to 5 job. One of my dear friends, Kelly, has graciously agreed to be interviewed by me and explain to us how her side hustle actually became her full-time job! Read on!
Me: Would you please introduce yourself and give us a little background on how your side hustle became your full-time job?
My name is Kelly McCreary and I started working for myself just over 2 years ago. I have been doing administration work for the past 20 years in a wide variety of venues, and have also done occasional independent contractor work for about 15 years. When I was laid off from my job in administration in December of 2015, I decided to take my skills and experience into my own hands and offer my services directly to people who really needed them. The freedom to not only work for myself, but also be appreciated by my clients, has been amazing. I am also a mother of a beautiful 9 year old daughter and recently remarried.
Me: What is it that you do for your clients?
I provide a variety of business development services to clients who run small businesses and either do not need or cannot afford to hire someone full-time. My services range from anything to basic administrative support, running social media, and even managing finances. The services I provide depends on the needs of the individual client and my background and ability to help them with those needs.
Me: What got you into Business Development? How long have you been doing it?
When I got laid off from my job as an Administrative Assistant after only one year, and this job took over a year to get, I was encouraged by friends to consider going into business for myself. I had done some side work for people in the past in both graphic design and administration so I knew it was something I could do. I just never considered trying to make a living doing it. However finding a "real" job was proving to be extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible for me, especially with my unique background.
The first thing I did was reach out to a friend who is a business coach. In exchange for my administrative services he coached me in building my own business. It was in the process of working with my coach that I realized there was a lot of potential in providing my skills in administration and business development to small businesses. With him I worked out my fee scale and service packages. I have been doing it now for just over 2 years and have developed and refined my fees and services along the way.
Me: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when you started your business?
The biggest hurdle for me was knowing my value. It was hard for me to get comfortable with figuring out how much I should charge for my services. In the beginning I was definitely underselling myself, but I needed to start where I was comfortable and build up my confidence to charge a more equivalent market value for my services. As my confidence grew and I researched standard fees for the types of services I was providing, I was able to increase my fees with each new client I acquired.
Me: What surprised you most about going into business for yourself?
The biggest surprise is that it was not that hard to make it work. As long as I believe in myself, skills, and the services I provide I am able to confidently sell those services to my clients. Maybe even saying “sell” my services is an overstatement. I simply know my strengths and have honest conversations with potential clients about their needs. For me being simple and personable has gone a long way in not only making my business work, but my success in gaining and retaining clients.
Me: What are some common misconceptions that people may have when using your service?
I find that there have not really been any misconceptions in regards to my services because I strive to make it very clear what my clients needs are, and exactly how I can help them (or not). I do a consultation phone call with every client before I begin working with them. From there I write up a service agreement that is reviewed in detail with the client and signed by both myself and the client. This more intensive upfront effort proves to save tons of time in maintaining the working relationship. Also, because communication is an important component to the work I do for my clients, agreements do get changed and often times at my prompting because I suggest a new direction for our working relationship that will serve my clients better. I guess the keys to my success in this area are that all my work is always client focused, and good communication is established at the onset.
Me: What are some important facts people need to know when using your service?
While I try to have personal interactions with each of my clients, it is important to remember we are in a business contract first and foremost. However, because of the clarity of the service agreements I set up with clients, this too has not been too much of an issue. I even have a client who tells me all the time to make sure I am charging him for everything I do for him, haha.
Me: How can the reader learn more about your services and business?
The best place to learn more about my business and how I have structured it is my website: www.kjbusinessdevelopment.com.
Me: Great! Thank you so much Kelly! It was a pleasure.
My thoughts on numbers, spreadsheets, money, spending, forecasting, budgeting, and everything in between. Read on!
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