Your check register is designed to help you track your checking account activity. Keeping your checkbook balanced allows you to monitor your finances more efficiently and avoid any unfortunate bank fees or unexpected account errors.
Check registers usually come with your checkbook, but if you don’t have one you can print one online or make your own with graph paper or a simple ledger.
Record Your Transactions
After obtaining your current account balance, you’ll want to record any debits as well as any credits. Amounts being withdrawn from your account should be properly recorded in the debit column of the register. Deposits, or money added to your account, are recorded in the credit column. Remember to record all your purchases, online transactions, and bill payments.
Recalculate Your Balance Daily
Some prefer to do this all at one time, but there are advantages to deducting each purchase or payment after you’ve completed the transaction. Subtract all your debits and add any credits to get your account total. This should equal a positive number.
This step is especially important if you happen to share your account with someone. Communicate with each other at least once a day to account for your transactions and update your registers accordingly.
Compare Your Register With Your Statement
When your bank statement arrives each month, reconcile it with your personal check register. Use this to subtract any fees on your statement from your register, or add any interest the banks has paid you. Make sure that your records match those of the bank and correct any mistakes.
Track Down Any Mistakes
If you do come across any discrepancies between your statement and your own records, start by checking your math on your checkbook register. Look for any transactions you could have missed or transactions that might not have cleared your account yet. You don’t want to have any missing money or be at risk of overdrafting your account.
Determine Your New Balance
Once you have reconciled your check register with your bank statement, record your current balance and draw double lines under the number. The next time you suspect you’ve made a mistake in your balance, you can refer to the underlined number as your last correct balance.
By keeping your checkbook balanced, you can ensure that you recognize any mistakes you or your bank may have made. It’s also much easier to stick to your budget and avoid making unnecessary purchases when you’re regularly tracking your spending.