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The Easy Way to Balance Your Checkbook

The Easy Way to Balance Your Checkbook

Yes, you can balance your checkbook every month to the penny with a minimum amount of time and effort. It is very important to do so in today’s world to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft.

There are a few points to keep in mind when balancing your checkbook. First, the ending balance in your checkbook and the ending balance on the bank statement will not match due to timing. You are balancing your checkbook currently, the bank statement has a closing date which is usually printed at the top of the statement. Second, the only differences that occur between your bank statement and your checkbook are deposits in transit, deposits not recorded, outstanding checks, transfers, and adjustments. And, finally, remember that the bank is always right.

When you receive your bank statement, take your checkbook register and place them side by side. Begin with the ending balance on the bank statement. The bank statement will then list all the deposits made to your account during the time period you are reconciling for. Match the deposits on the bank statement against what you have recorded in your checkbook register. A deposit in transit is an amount that you have in your checkbook but is not listed on the bank statement due to the statement date. Add these amounts, if any, to the ending balance on the bank statement. A deposit that is not recorded is an amount that the bank shows but is not in your checkbook register. Add these amounts, if, any, to your checkbook register. This section is usually the easiest to balance since magical amounts of money don’t appear into your account. These amounts result from actual money you take to the bank, deposit transfers between accounts or payroll direct deposits.

Next, you will want to see what checks cleared the bank that you wrote from your account. These are listed on your bank statement in numerical order. Follow this order and place a checkmark next to the check listed in your checkbook register that cleared the bank. Those checks in your register that do not have marks next to them, otherwise known as outstanding checks, should be subtracted from the bank statement balance. Be alert because the check can clear for a different amount than what it was written for. Either the writing on the check was unclear or the numbers were transposed.

Other withdrawals that can occur during the statement period are debit card purchases, automatic debit payment and ATM withdrawals. Make sure that all reductions on your bank statement are entered in your check register. It is important to check this section on your bank statement and make sure it matches your checkbook since this is the area where fraud is widespread. If you know where you shopped and utilized your debit card or when and where you stopped and made an ATM withdrawal, then those transactions are the only ones that should appear on your bank statement. If other withdrawals appear on your statement that you cannot justify, contact your bank immediately!

There can be adjustments to your account such as interest, service fees and the occasional bank adjustment. Yes, I realize that I stated that the bank is always right. Well, it is. Each and every employee of a bank that comes in contact with money must balance at the end of the day. Trust me, they will find their mistake. And, they often find your mistakes too! Remember to subtract your fees and add the interest to your checkbook register.

The ending balance of your statement should now match the ending balance in your checkbook register. If the amounts are not the same, I find it is usually in the withdrawals. Specifically go over the cleared checks and the amounts they cleared for.

You work hard for your money! By following these easy directions, you can have less frustration and a better understanding of where that money goes and you can protect yourself from the many occurrences of fraud in today’s society.