1 Account, 2 Checkbooks, No Overdrafts




Introduction: 1 Account, 2 Checkbooks, No Overdrafts

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

You are newly married.  Both you and your spouse need to carry a checkbook and write checks.  But, you have only one checking account.  How do you avoid overdrafts (writing checks for which the balance in the account is not sufficient)?

(The photo is from Bing Images.)

Step 1: A Simple Solution

The image shows a facsimile checkbook register with normal entries.  Usually, one spouse will write most of the checks.  This is probably the person in the marriage who pays most or all of the monthly bills.  For the sake of illustration, assume it is the wife in this marriage who pays most of the monthly bills.  The one who pays most of the bills will carry the "main" checkbook.  Note the item outlined with the red box.  The wife is subtracting $100 from the register in her checkbook to create an artificial transfer of funds to her husband's checkbook.  She is also reducing the balance in her checkbook by this amount.  No actual check was written.  No changes take place in the account at the bank.  This transaction takes place only on paper.  But, it gives Carl $100 with which to work in the checkbook he carries.

Step 2: The Other Checkbook

This is how the register in the husband's checkbook would appear.  The $100 subtracted from the balance in the wife's (Jan) checkbook appears as a deposit in the husband's (Carl) checkbook.  Carl is free to write as many checks as he needs, provided he does not spend more than the $100 credited to him from his wife's checkbook.  Should he really need to write a check larger than the balance in his checkbook, he will need to consult his wife to be sure the funds are available from her checkbook.  She will also need to make an entry that shows a deduction from the balance in her checkbook to cover the charges in her husband's checkbook.  He will make an entry to show funds were added to his checkbook.

Step 3: Balancing the Checkbook

At the end of the month it is time to balance the checkbook account.  When doing the worksheet that comes with the monthly statement, gather the registers from both checkbooks.  Combine the outstanding checks drawn on the account from both checkbooks and use that figure on the appropriate line.  Combine the balances in both checkbooks to arrive at the balance your checkbook(s) show.  

Many arguments in marriage are about money.  If you use two checkbooks on one account, the procedure I outlined will save you a great deal of disagreement and tension.  My wife and I used this and it always worked perfectly for us.   

(The photo is from Bing Images.)



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    14 Discussions

    I am sorry about that. I looked at your profile. I was born and raised in Iowa, although I now live in Idaho.

    Rofl...I am in southern Iowa so I blame it on the Missouri influence!

    In our part of Iowa a some of the people had married cousins for more than one generation. We blamed a lot of things on that! I was raised in Jones County (northeastern Iowa).

    Thank you. Had there been an Internet and the Instructables web site at the time, I would gladly have shared it 30 years ago. I realize today many people use debit cards in place of checkbooks. To me a debit card used in place of a checkbook is an open invitation to the kind of problems this Instructable seeks to avoid.

    Interesting, Phil.

    At home too, my wife is who do almost all payments. She is quite efficient, but curiously, when I monitor the expenses, they down dramatically! It is a pity that I be so lazy...

    3 replies


    I remember hearing a song from a shortwave radio station in Germany. The lyrics said, "Beautiful women cost money. It is true the world over." Perhaps that is your problem! Somewhere I saw a quotation written by a man in ancient Babylon. He complained that women want to shop too much. On the other hand, my wife complains that I do not buy enough. I think she feels guilty about all of the things she buys. But, I have very few needs.

    I remember a gag: a man reading the news, says to his wife: "most stupid men marry the most beautiful women!". She thought for a second and respond: "Oh, darling, you are so smoothie!"

    In the USA hats (baseball caps) with inscriptions on them are popular. Often these are humorous. Some are sold in pairs. One says, "Stupid." It is for the man. The one for the woman says, "I am with Stupid."

    How do you keep from using the same check number? Do both partners have checks with the same numbers or totally different ones?

    1 reply

    The answer to your question is easier than you think. A box of checks begins with check number 101. The pad of checks with that number series will be in one checkbook. If there are 50 checks in a pad, the next pad will being with check number 151. That pad will be in the other checkbook. Or, the two people could agree that 100 series checks would be used only in the "main" checkbook. The other checkbook could use only 300 series checks. That would provide an easier way to know who wrote what checks when viewing only the numbers on the monthly bank statement. As the 100 series and the 300 series checks are depleted, change the scheme to 200 and 400 series checks.