How to Balance your Checkbook

Balancing your checkbook is a simple task, as long as you do it often (and no, it does not mean setting it on your head and trying to keep it from falling off).
All it requires is simple math skills, and a little patience. Unless, of course, you haven’t bothered to balance it in a year-then it requires a lot of patience, and some cursing.

The first and most important step to balancing your checkbook is to keep your reciepts long enough to write down what you spent! It’s astounding how many otherwise responsible adults cannot seem to do this tiny thing.

Make it a point every evening to spend a little quality time with your checkbook. It needs you, it’s calling your name, just begging you to add that deposit and subtract the cost of those groceries. If you do this every day, it should only take you a few minutes. If you do this even just once a week, it still won’t take you an hour. Let it slide longer than that, and you have a mess on your hands.

Besides the obvious reasons for keeping your finances in order, there is also the fact that it keeps stress to a minimum, it makes you feel good to know that you’ve got things in order, and there’s no embarrassing moments at check-stands when the cashier has to tell you your check was declined.

All of this may seem like small potatoes to those who already know how to balance a checkbook. For those of you who don’t:

1. Get a calculator, a pen/pencil, and a piece of paper.
2. Find any receipts you might still have from your recent purchases.
3. Find your latest bank statement.
4. Open your checkbook.
5. Don’t cry.
6. Fill in the amount you currently have in your bank account (do this every single time you make a deposit, as well).
7. Fill in every purchase you’ve made, the cost, and the date.
8. Start those rusty wheels turning and do the math. (If you bought something and don’t remember the exact cost, round up. This leaves you with less available money shown, but at least you won’t over-draft your account. And next time, save your receipt or write in your purchase right at the counter!)
9. Double-check your work, and correct if need be.
10. Close your checkbook, pat yourself on the back, and start the whole thing again tomorrow.