Balancing your checking account – the act of recording all transactions that go through your checking account to track how much money you have spent and how much money you have remaining.
In today’s age of digital banking, many people rarely write physical checks. That doesn’t mean they don’t use their checking accounts, though. It’s easy to forget about balancing an account when most payments are made electronically and people no longer carry a checkbook or a check register. Balancing a checking account can take time, but not doing it could end up costing more time and lots of money.
If you have not balanced your account for a while, or never balanced it, here are some tips for you:
Record all transactions – This is the most important part of balancing your checking account. If you forget transactions, your accounting will be off and you may think you have more money than you actually do. Make sure you include checks you’ve written, ATM withdrawals (and any associated fees), and recurring automated payments in your check register or digital file. Don’t forget money that goes into your checking account, like paycheck direct deposits. Also make sure to track transactions through P2P payment apps like Zelle or savings app like Plinqit. Get into a habit of doing this as soon as possible after each transaction. Keeping your ATM and other receipts can help you remember.
Recurring transactions – It can be easy to forget automatic payments. Set up alerts or calendar reminders to help make sure these get into your process.
Reconcile your account on a regular basis – At the end of each month, reconcile your records with your bank statement. Add all the transactions (deposits and withdrawals) from your register, and see if your totals match your bank’s records. Hopefully, they will, and your job is done. But, if they don’t, you will want to verify each amount to see find the source of the discrepancy. You may find that you’ve made a mistake (such as forgetting to include a Zelle payment when you split a dinner tab with friends); or that a recurring payment didn’t go through as expected; or there might be fraudulent transactions that need to be addressed; or even a mistake made by the bank, though that doesn’t happen often.
Use technology – You don’t have to use a traditional register for your account balancing. You could use a simple spreadsheet, if you prefer, which you can access through your mobile device to record transactions anywhere. There are also plenty of budgeting and other personal finance apps available to help manage your accounts and spending.
The bottom line is this: If you get into the habit of recording your in and outbound transactions, balancing your account is an easy job. It can also save you a lot of time and aggravation in the long run by giving you a better understanding of your finances on a daily basis.