I don't do this because I have piles of free time in my life. Rather, I believe that entering transactions manually has its advantages:
- You get a better "feel" for your spending. I've always believed that inputting purchases by hand allows me to stay "closer" to my own spending habits. It's harder to ignore your own Money Stupids when you have to physically punch in, say, the credit-card purchases after you've left Best Buy. (A particular place of weakness for me.)
- You can skip some software glitches. When folks have spoken to me about their complaints and aggravations with software like Quicken and MS Money, it sure seems as if the transaction-downloading abilities of the programs leave a lot to be desired. Is it a problem with the banks? Is it a problem with Quicken? I dunno. But it doesn't matter to me, 'cause I don't utilize e-downloads.
- Waiter changes my tip? Receipt total gets changed? I'll catch it. I almost always pay for my dining-out excursions with cash-back credit cards. And yes, my tip gets added to the bill that's charged to my card. I keep my copy of the final receipt, obviously, because I have to punch it into Quicken when I get home (or at least toss it into our Cash Flow box for entry later). And yes, I do actually reconcile all my Quicken accounts to their respective statements when they arrive. The Control Freak in me wouldn't have it any other way.
So, if a server decided to modify my tip — get a load of this Fatwallet thread — I'd catch it when I reconciled the account. After all, the amount on the statement wouldn't match the amount I'd input. Danger, danger.
So yeah — I'm one of the few remaining Quicken users who don't download transactions from financial institutions. There's probably a nice twelve-step program out there for me. But my denial is strong. I'm not joining.
Automatic transaction downloads? If that's a necessary facet of the Wired Life, then you guys will just have to go on without me.