Tips for Balancing Your Checkbook

My grandmother balanced her checkbook on Sundays, after Johnny Carson had gone off the air. I’d stay up late with her, listening to the CLICK CLICK CLICK of the adding machine as we watched reruns of Hitchcock muted on the screen.

“You must take care of your finances, Franny,” grandma would say as she checked off each deposit and withdrawal, all written in her elegant parochial school handwriting. “I have a perfect credit score. Never been late on paying, not even once!”

She’d say that last bit smugly, before turning back to her calculations. Occasionally I’d hear her muttering tidbits of advice while she tried to reconcile the bank’s statement with her own precise records.

Next to the adding machine, grandma kept a neatly folded, damp paper towel, so she could carefully wipe each finger each time they grazed the black carbon copy paper.

“Always make a copy when you write a check. And use ink,” she’d say. “Most folks are decent, but that’s no excuse for being an easy mark.”

She was full of this unsolicited advice.

“Never finance toys, Franny. You take a loan for a house, even a car. Sure. But never toys. No one needs a record player enough to go into debt for it. “

Grandma survived as an orphan during the great depression. That kind of wasteful indulgence “got her dander up,” as she would say.

“Balancing a checkbook is easy. Money in, money out, easy as pie. It’s getting the money that’s the hard part. “ This was a constant refrain.

“You have to work hard. Nothing is free.”


- Frances Locke is a writer from New York City and the founding editor of Witty Bitches Magazine. She’s currently living a self-imposed exile in Las Vegas, with her partner and children, and enjoys proselytizing about the wonders of cats whenever possible.  You can find her on Twitter at @frances_locke