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Over the course of any given month there are dozens of transactions going in and out of your checking account: direct deposits posting from your employer, your mortgage or rent, utility bills, car loans, insurance and other payments are withdrawn. There are also groceries to buy, dinners out, a gas tank to fill and perhaps a trip to the movies or shopping online. Do you know the true balance in your account before you spend money or do you just wing it?
Balancing your checkbook at least once a month can help you:
So how exactly do you balance a checking account?
1. Start with a checking account register – it’s a little booklet that has lines to write what was spent or deposited and includes an area to write the check numbers, dates and amounts of each transaction you perform.
A running balance is kept after each transaction to track what is available to spend. A register is usually included with your check order. Many banks also make them available upon request for customers as well. Every transaction processed on your account should be recorded in your register:
2. Each month, you should receive a statement of account activity from your bank which can be used to balance your checkbook. You can also balance your account with the transaction history available within Online Banking.
3. Compare the transaction listing to what you have recorded in your register. Many people use checkmarks to indicate what has posted or cleared to easily spot anything outstanding or unpaid. Add in any missing deposits, including interest earned credits and subtract out any payments, checks and debit card transactions that aren’t recorded into your register. If you find any errors, contact your bank immediately to notify them of the discrepancy. Should you find any fraudulent transactions, you have 60 days from the date of your last statement to dispute them. You should note the amount of any errors in your register and adjust your balance accordingly.
4. On a separate piece of paper, or using a calculator, start with the ending balance of your statement. (You can also use the available balance as shown within Online Banking.) Add in any deposits from your register that haven’t posted to your account yet and subtract all checks, payments or other withdrawals that are still outstanding or unpaid by your bank.
5. Your final total should match the last balance in your register. If it doesn’t, go back and compare the transactions again to find any differences. If you are still having trouble finding the same balance, stop in or call your bank for help.
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