Friday, March 16, 2007

I Hate Float

Is it weird that I hate float? Apparently, most people count on float in their finances, like, they can write a check knowing that it will take time to clear, and in that time, they'll have the money to draw it on. Not me. I would rather eliminate float entirely; I'd rather have everything be absolutely instantaneous. Not being able to see where my money is makes me crazy--I hate the limbo of "it's been debited from my checking account, but isn't in my Roth yet," or, on the other side of the coin, "it's showing up as part of my ING balance, but hasn't yet been debited from my checking account." I find these situations truly frustrating; they upset my sense of order.

Right now, I'm waiting for a $40 check I wrote K for my half of the Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card-overflow to debit. He deposited it early this week, but it's still hanging out in the ether, causing a problematic margin between what I think I actually have and what my checking account says I have. Similarly, a check I wrote him for my share of a utility bill was deposited last Friday--I was there--but only just cleared my account today.

Aside from the fact that I really like the calculations Bank of America's My Portfolio feature does to be right, and not thrown off by double-counting or invisibility, float makes it really easy to get confused. I don't know how anyone functioned before debit cards and internet banking, honestly. I would have torn my hair out.

Update: Well, this is timely: an article about decreasing float by scanning checks.

10 comments:

Jon said...

I'm real good with my day to day finances and tracking stuff like that and I only write a check or two a month. Inevitably, it takes a week for them to post and I always get that shock of "Where did $100 go" when I see my available balance. I hate float too...

Save Money said...

You sound like someone who balances their checkbook regularly. The way to deal with the float is to ignore it. When you write the check, balance your checkbook right away and as soon as you write it then the money is no longer available. If you think of it this way then you do not have to worry about when it clears. It is gone as soon as you sign the check.

Lindsay said...

Rather than pay things with my checkbook, my bank (WAMU) offers free bill pay. With that, they send a check to whatever company or individual I need them too, and take the money out of my account almost immediately. It's saved me from overdrafting because I forgot something was going to clear.

By the way, I really like your blog. I was also an English major, and am working my first publishing job in Orlando. It's cool to read the blog of someone who is doing the same thing at the same time as me. :)

Wil said...

I didn't see the updated article, but I'm guessing its about CHECK 21. This will answer a lot of your concerns. When this program started, people didn't like it much, but since it's been a while (two or so years), people have gotten used to it.

Bill pay is an awesome suggestion too. You can even set up everything automatically, so most of your finances can do themselves, allowing you to have more time to do things you truly enjoy.

ispf said...

If K and you use the same bank, you should check out online transfers, since updates are (almost) instantaneous. I would probably go crazy (or drive the better half crazy) if I had to give him a check! He is very lazy about going to the bank and his checks usually sit on the night stand for weeks. (I have been thinking to suggest this since your public letter to K some time back about depositing a check).

Anyway, I can't imagine what life was like before online banking either. Good thing I didn't have any money then to manage it :) I would have torn my hair out too :)

Strange Bird said...

I hate it too. I track all of my expenses ridiculously closely, and it bothered me to no end when my roommate waited three weeks to cash a check I wrote her for the utilities (once she cashed three months' worth at the same time, and how's THAT for confusing!) from an account that I was trying to close off.

I'm going to look into this online bill-pay to individuals business that my bank offers. Seems the best alternative right now.

Tim said...

why don't you just give K cash? there is no more 3 day float for checks anymore. the float is the person depositing. i also vote on if K has the same bank, to do an ACH transfer to her account.

Jonatan said...

I understand how you feel, what I do is manually track all my expenses with quicken, and do reconciliation with the bank every night, but I pay little attention at the bank and more to my balances in Quicken, so I always count the real balance.

Staci said...

English Major, this "float" post motivated me to deposit a check my mother wrote me at the beginning of March. She thanks you (and so do I)!

Starving Artist said...

I hate float, too! I have everything automated so my bills go out the day I get payed.