Balancing Your Checkbook

Posted by Professor Cram in Consumer Credit and Banking

Balancing Your Checkbook

Balancing your checkbook is little more than making certain you and the bank both agree on what's happened to your bank account each month.

The bank provides a monthly statement of all transactions during the period. It is important that you balance your checkbook by comparing your checkbook register to the bank statement in a timely manner in order to:

  • correct errors by the bank;
  • find your own errors and know how much money you actually have

Reconciling your account register to the bank statement is a matter of comparing deposits and withdrawals and adjusting the bank statement for outstanding items not yet reflected by the bank. This process will go more quickly and smoothly if you make sure your bank register is up to date. Be sure all of your transactions are entered — including direct deposit, ATM transactions, and debit charges — before you start trying to reconcile to the bank statement.

Step By Step

1. Start with the bank balance from the bank statement
2. Determine if you have made any deposits that do not appear yet on the bank statement. List and total these "deposits in transit."
3. Determine if you have any outstanding checks (checks you have written and recorded in your checkbook but have not yet come through the bank). Make a check mark by each item that has cleared the bank as you match them up. When you finish going through the checks, the ones without a check mark are your outstanding checks. List them in the blanks under "outstanding checks" on the form and total the amount.
4. Add the bank balance (step 1) to the total deposits in transit (step 2), and subtract the outstanding checks (step 3). This is your adjusted bank balance. If it matches your checkbook register ending balance, you are finished.
5. If adjusted bank balance does not match your checkbook register, it may differ by bank fees or interest payments shown on the bank statement that are not yet entered in your checkbook. You will need to enter those in your checkbook now and list them below your adjusted bank balance above. Update your adjusted bank balance and see that it matches your check register ending balance. If they do, you are finished.
6. If you still don't balance, you have missed something. You could be missing a transaction that the bank shows, have a transaction the bank does not show, or your transaction amount could be different from the amount the bank has for a transaction. You could even have a math error in your balance. Go back and check it all out again.

 

Here is a big-time math-trick tip for identifying errors – if the difference between your number and the bank's number is divisible by 9, one of you may have transposed two digits!

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