My money management philosophy is really pretty simple: If you don’t have money, don’t spend it.
This means that in general we:
pay bills in cash
save for major purchases
use the checkbook only rarely.
I used to be a lot looser with my money philosophy, but it only brought trouble. When we used the checkbook for everything, a couple of math errors ended up costing us hundreds of dollars. We couldn’t even use a payday cash advance service, because we knew DH’s next check had to go towards paying bank fees, and there would be nothing left to pay such a loan back. That’s an aggravating and hard place to be, especially in a family this size, because you just know that something is always going to come up that requires some money.
Since we’ve started using cash, I just give DH the bill, and he goes by the bank for the money (he passes it everyday anyway) and pays the bill in person (he drives all over town everyday anyway). For the few bills that I can’t pay locally, I use the internet, and have the money taken directly from checking. This is not quite as bad as a regular check, since I don’t have to worry about someone holding the check, and me counting on them not cashing it this week, since they didn’t cash it last week. In fact, the only place I regularly use a check is church, and I know they put the checks in on Monday. And now the bank keeps a lot less of my money 😉