How to Balance Your Checkbook

how to balance a checkbook

If a check doesn’t clear, you may need to contact the check writer for another payment or contact the bank to ask how long the check-clearing process will take. In order to keep your checkbook balanced, there are four things you need to remember. Here are some common reasons that your checkbook might not balance and what you can do to prevent this issue moving forward. Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links.

Simple user errors

This usually lists the balance from the previous month’s statement, along with deposits, other credits, debits and checks that have cleared the bank. It will also include your ending account how to integrate credit card processing into xero balance on the date the statement was generated. Keep track of your transactions in a register — a checkbook register, a notebook or a spreadsheet on your computer can all work equally well.

Next steps: Tips for remembering to balance your checkbook

how to balance a checkbook

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. The more you understand the process, the more comfortable you may feel about managing your money. Balancing a checkbook can be just the thing you need to propel you into a better financial future.

What do you want to do with money?

Keeping careful records may inspire you to start saving a little more, investing and building a nice financial safety net. Do you faithfully balance your checkbook to the penny each month? Balancing your checkbook is one of the most basic habits for good money management, yet millions of Americans don’t do it on a regular basis. 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. Reviewing your bank statements and comparing them with your own records regularly will help verify that you and your bank are on the same page.

In this case, you can usually spot the issue by going through your online transaction history and locating the missed charge. You may also want to double check that your autopay transactions are processed for the amount you expected, and that your bill didn’t increase from one month to the next. As long as you’re able to record the pertinent details of each transaction as you go, it really doesn’t matter what you use to balance your checkbook. If you still can’t find the problem with your checkbook being imbalanced, contact your bank for further assistance reconciling your checkbook. Perhaps there’s a discrepancy in a pending transaction or a hold on your account that you’re unaware of that’s preventing you from having a balanced checkbook.

It’s a chance to see how your money came into the account and where it went. You can also see if you missed accounting for any of your expenses in your budget. Unfortunately, the basic money management task of balancing our checkbooks is not taught in most schools and usually not taught by our parents.

Go through everything line by line again, adding the balances up as you go. Of course, the offers on our platform don’t represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can. As you balance a checkbook, you will likely pick up on habits that can help you budget for the future. The point is to help you stay on top of your expenses so you can budget successfully. But what do terms like “balance,” “checkbook” and “register” even mean in today’s online world? When balancing a checkbook, it can be useful to start with some definitions.

Although your bank processes thousands of transactions accurately, it can make mistakes, and you typically have only 60 days to inform the bank of the error. If you don’t balance your checkbook monthly, you might not even find the error in 60 days. Even more likely is the possibility that you made a math error in your checkbook register, which you’re unlikely to find unless you balance your checkbook each month. Though we live in a world where so much is automated, there’s still a need for manual work to ensure everything is correct. Yes, our online banking apps and websites track our transactions, but some transactions take time to post. You can avoid all the balancing at the end of the month by logging in to your online banking every day and clearing transactions from your check register.

If you like to use your phone for everything, it may work to use an app to check the bank account balance each day. You could also decide to set up alerts to let you know when transactions occur. 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.

The more frequently you balance your checkbook, the more you’ll feel on top of your account. This is one area where digital tools have a big advantage over the pen-and-paper method. You’ll need to be pretty good at math on the fly or use a calculator if you prefer the checkbook register method. Each time you enter in a new transaction, make sure to update your balance. This will be your actual balance, which is a better picture of how much you have to spend because it includes payments that might not have hit your bank account yet. We think it’s important for you to understand how we make money.

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 issue. See NerdWallet’s picks for the best high-yield online savings accounts. Compare your statement balance to your checkbook balance and subtract the smaller one from the larger one to get the difference. If the result is a round number — no decimals — then your issue is a transposed number.

  1. Go through everything line by line again, adding the balances up as you go.
  2. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks.
  3. If there’s a mismatch, it may take some work to figure out what the cause is.
  4. Add all your outstanding deposits to your statement ending balance, then subtract all outstanding debits.
  5. To balance a checkbook, you’ll need to choose your recording method, log your beginning balance, add account transactions and compare your check register to your bank statement.

If they have cleared in this statement, check them off on the outstanding transaction list and your current statement. Despite this convenience, the balance you see on your bank’s app may not be accurate. Not all transactions clear immediately, especially if you write a check. Creating any new financial habit — especially balancing your checkbook — can be challenging.

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