how to balance a checkbook

Write down your current checking account balance in the “Cash Balance” column on the far-right side. This is the amount that’s in your account before you begin to make transactions. Making the balancing act a daily habit only takes a few minutes.

How to balance your checkbook

how to balance a checkbook

Setting up text or email notifications can make it easier to keep track of new credit and debit transactions without having to log in to your account. Assuming all the transactions from your statement and your register match, the end balance showing for each one should also be the same. If not, you need to go back and check the register for any transactions that may not have been posted to your account yet. Balancing a checkbook can be a helpful way to view your spending each month and to review your checks for any errors.

How To Balance a Checkbook

  1. Relying on these apps alone to balance your checkbook can be problematic, however, if you’re not keeping a close eye on each account individually.
  2. You'll need your checkbook register, checking account statement, and a calculator.
  3. When balancing a checkbook, it can be useful to start with some definitions.
  4. 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.

And when we say “all your spending,” we mean all your spending—even the bag of Sour Patch Kids you bought at the gas station when you filled up your car yesterday. Here’s to more confident shopping trips and a solid financial future. We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence.

Step 1: Collect Your Bank Statement

To balance a checkbook, you'll have to fill out your checkbook register routinely. If you come up with the same discrepancy a second or third time, consider whether you made a math mistake or if there’s another journal entry for depreciation issue. If you find a discrepancy here, make the necessary changes and rebalance your checkbook. Make sure every transaction on the statement is also in your register or spreadsheet—even pending payments.

Your financial institution likely offers checkbooks as a free or paid service with your checking account. You can usually request these online, through your mobile app, over the phone, or in a local branch. So, how do you balance a checkbook, particularly if you don’t write checks or simply don’t want to use a paper register to track transactions? Here are a few options to consider whether you’re a pen-and-paper kind of person or not. Does all this writing and manually adding and subtracting seem excessive in today’s digital world?

Anything you spend or deposit make sure to note and record the balance in your checkbook register. Don’t forget to account for other miscellaneous charges such as ATM withdrawal fees or monthly subscriptions. Then, set aside a little extra time every month to balance your checkbook.

how to balance a checkbook

Now, though, banking customers have many different options for spending money. If you’re having trouble balancing your checkbook, it may be because you have transactions that are unaccounted for, either on your statement or in your checkbook register. Double-checking transactions or calling the bank could help you find an overlooked credit or debit. You can also review your register for mathematical errors that would result in an incorrect balance. Balancing your checkbook is a method of verifying that your records (your checkbook register) match the bank's records, as shown on your monthly bank statement.

Include the date of the transaction, a description of the transaction, and the amount. Some people like to use duplicate copy checks so they always have a record of who they issued a check to and for what amount. Balancing your checkbook is one of those crucial life skills that you need to know. It will give you a clear sense of not only how much money is in your bank account, but where your money goes. It can also help prevent you from bouncing checks, stick to your budget, help you avoid fees, and detect errors from your bank or even fraudulent billing. Knowing where and when your hard-earned dollars are received and spent is the crux of budgeting responsibly.

There are different reasons your checkbook may be unbalanced. For instance, some people may choose not to record the pennies on the checks they write. And there are also people who only balance their checkbook once a year when they do their taxes. If life’s gotten in the way and you haven’t had a chance to balance your checkbook in a while, there’s no reason you can’t get started again.

If you're not using your checkbook, go through your checkbook and add up all your bill payments for the month. Then, you'll go through your bank statement and factor in any other transactions not listed. Expenses should be subtracted from your total, and payments should be added. If you use your checkbook, you'll go line by line and either subtract or add each check. You'll also write down any debit card or bank transactions for the month. If your checkbook doesn't add up properly, you may need to backtrack farther.

Compare all other transactions listed in your check register to those listed on your monthly statement. Such transactions include debit card purchases, automatic payments, ACHs, and ATM withdrawals. Some people wait until the monthly statement comes from the bank before they balance their checkbook. But if you log in to your bank at least once a week, you’ll give yourself way less chance of letting any transactions slip past you (which helps you avoid those overdraft fees we mentioned earlier!).

You may have some information on your bank statement that isn't updated if you just sent a payment. You can also check your carbon copy checks to ensure you didn't write the wrong number down on your bank register. When someone balances a checkbook, it means they're comparing a checkbook to a bank statement and reviewing bank transactions. Balancing a checkbook may also help bring attention to any banking errors.

One no longer must wait on snail mail with around-the-clock access to the accounts. The balance in the register can be instantly checked against what the app is reporting. One of the easiest ways to throw off a balanced checkbook is to forget or miss a transaction. If you’re spending with a debit card throughout the day, this can be very easy to do, especially with small and easily forgotten purchases.

If you realized in Step 3 that you missed some transactions, you need to add them now. When you're creating new goals, Gomez notes that you shouldn't feel like you're constantly depriving yourself through a budget. Sign up for our daily newsletter for the latest financial news and trending topics. By simply following the steps below, you will be well on your way to achieving those once hard-to-reach financial goals. Side hustles are a great way to use your skills and talents to crush your money goals—faster than ever.

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