If not, you need to go back and check the register for any transactions that may not have been posted to your account yet. Match the entries in your register with the transactions listed on your statement. Compare check numbers, dates, and dollar amounts on all checks written. If these items match, place a check “✓” mark next to the transaction in both your register and on the statement. In your checkbook register, enter all of the interest earned on your account (if applicable). If you’d like the accountability of recording your own transactions but need a little more structure, you might consider using an accounting program, such as Quicken or YNAB.
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Understanding a Check
Or a bank teller types in the wrong amount when you deposit a check in person. In this scenario, gather backup to prove your case for why it’s an error and contact the bank for instructions on how to fix the issue. There are also many third-party check services that offer personalized check designs and unique options. After all, you’re handing over very sensitive financial information as part of the ordering process. You can also turn to specific budgeting and balancing apps or platforms, such as Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), Goodbudget, and even Quicken. Some of these charge a fee while others may be able to meet your balancing and budgeting needs with a free service.
There are many free checkbook balancing forms available and you can even buy fun, downloadable options on sites like Etsy. There are a number of programs available that will automatically track your banking information for you, such as Mint.com and Personal Capital. These aggregators allow you to see an overview of all of your financial accounts in a single place, from your checking and savings accounts, to your loans, to your college savings account. Such an aggregator will do the tracking and recording for you, so all you’ll have to do is check it regularly and compare it to your banking information to make sure everything balances. The old-school method of checkbook balancing assumed that you would carry a paper check register with you everywhere you went, and that you would record your transactions by hand. It also assumed that your transactions consisted primarily of paper checks going into and out of your account.
How to Switch Banks
If you find one such charge, you may need to dispute the transaction with the merchant, alert your bank to a potential issue, and even freeze your account and/or debit card until it’s resolved. While some people really enjoy putting pen to paper, others fiercely prefer the convenience and ease that technology offers. A merchant could overcharge you or double charge you for an order or purchase, causing your check register and bank statement to be off. In this scenario, contact the merchant to dispute the charge and then report the transaction to the bank. You add or subtract the corresponding amount to arrive at your new account balance.
- Otherwise, you might forget about a transaction, which would result in an incorrect balance.
- You may overdraw your account if there is an outstanding check that you forget about.
- Double-checking transactions or calling the bank could help you find an overlooked credit or debit.
- She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.
- If you pull your balance from an online banking dashboard, use your “available balance” because this figure should include pending transactions.
- This simply means going through your statement and your checkbook register line by line and matching up transactions.
That’s when it’s time to backtrack through your records and the bank’s transaction history to see where the discrepancy is. Perhaps you forgot to record a transaction or you transposed a couple of numbers. The only way to discover the error is to go back to the last time your checkbook was balanced and work your way forward. Balancing your checkbook is one of those crucial life skills that you need to know.
Reasons your checkbook might not balance and what to do
You can usually request these online, through your mobile app, over the phone, or in a local branch. Reconcile it against the information that’s listed in your check register. This simply means going through your statement and your checkbook register line by line and matching up transactions. It may be that only old-school account holders still record and reconcile paper checkbooks by hand.
How Your Statement Works
If you are unable to find any math errors or missed transactions but your checkbook still doesn’t balance, consider going through and looking for signs of fraudulent activity. Balancing your checkbook might feel like an archaic practice since the use of paper checks is falling out of style, but it still serves a purpose. The practice is a way to get a solid handle on how much money is going in and out of your account each month, which can help you identify fraud and keep tabs on how much money you have. Writing down transactions in a checkbook register is one way to keep track of them, but there are also options for balancing your checkbook digitally. For example, fintech Chime is known for its award-winning app and budgeting tools that alert you to your daily balance, help track your budget, and even automatically add to your savings account.
How to Balance a Checkbook
If you’ve combed through your account statements and still can’t get your checkbook to balance, you should call your bank to ask about any pending debit or credit charges you may have overlooked. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to balance your checkbook more often than once a month, especially if you are newly adopting this financial task. You will have fewer transactions to comb through if you balance once a week or once every two weeks.
But there are a number of options available to help you record and balance your accounting in order to stay on top of your finances. If you struggle to get into this kind of habit, a number of modern banking conveniences can help remind you to check in once a day. For instance, the majority of modern banks offer smartphone apps that allow you to easily check your balance, see your transactions and even deposit checks via your phone. You also can sign up for email or text alerts that will let you know everything from when your transactions clear to what your current balance is. These amenities make it very easy to check your banking information each day.