Balancing your checkbook is a must to avoid surprises. Without a clear knowledge of what is “out there” you will have no idea how much money you actually have in your account. A step by step guide on how to balance your check book is as follows.
1. When you write out a check record the check number immediately, the date it was written, who it was written to, and what amount it was in your transaction ledger. If all the information is down, you won’t have to worry about the total amount, when it was written or sent if there is confusion, and who it was made out to.
2. If you deposit money or make a withdrawal at an ATM record how much you put in or took out immediately with the date. If there is a problem with your financial institution you will be able to provide accurate information. Be aware that money deposited after 4 or 5 pm, depending on your bank may not register until the following day.
3. Record any bills or automatic deposits that are automatically paid or transferred from your account. Remembering to list these transactions will save you from panicking when something clears when you aren’t expecting it.
4. If you use your ATM card, write down where it was used, and how much was charged to it in your transaction register.
If you keep an accurate register you will not bounce checks. With the advent of online banking you will be able to see when things clear almost up to the minute. By keeping an accurate bank ledger you will be aware of suspicious activity immediately, and if there is any confusion about when someone was paid you will have an informative account of each check that went out. If for some reason a check doesn’t clear online, call to make sure your check was received.
Keeping a balanced check book simplifies life. It takes only a moment to record transactions as they occur and can save you hours fighting over what was paid and when. It can save hundreds in bounced check fees and protect you from fraud.