Balancing your checkbook might seem like an unnecessary step given the access to online banking. It can still be a valuable experience, especially if you write checks or need to account for transactions that haven’t cleared, like a monthly subscription service.
Balancing your checkbook helps you catch fraudulent activity faster, budget automatic transactions, and avoid bouncing checks.
Here’s how to balance a checkbook:
Step 1: Record Your Transactions
The first step to balancing a checkbook is accurately recording transactions. You can keep an Excel spreadsheet if that suits you or write transactions in a checkbook register. Free checkbook registers are available at any of the NexTier Bank locations.
If you mostly use a debit card for your bank account, get into the habit of keeping receipts. Or, take a picture with your phone to reduce the paper you keep. Keeping your receipts helps you to verify transactions in your online banking account. This is especially helpful for dining out. Most restaurants will post a hold on your account pre-tip, with the full amount not clearing for a few days after.
Step 2: Review Your Monthly Statement
When you receive your monthly statement, look back at your checkbook register and verify any missing information. You’ll need to regularly review your statement or online account. We recommend reviewing your account at least once a week to help to stay in control of your spending. Frequency will vary depending on how much you use your debit card or write checks. If you use a check register and only use online banking, develop a system to monitor pending transactions versus cleared transactions.
Step 3: Check Balances
When balancing your checkbook, you’ll need to add income and subtract expenses. Don’t forget to subtract checks that have not yet cleared. This is a common mistake, tricking you into thinking you have more money available.
Verify your balances by subtracting charges that have not yet cleared from available amount to confirm your totals match. If you’re unsure how to balance your checkbook and need help, our branch associates are happy to assist you if you need help balancing your checkbook.
Step 4: Address Errors and Fraud
Address any errors or fraudulent activity as soon as possible. Discovering fraudulent activity early allows banks to place an alert on your account or cancel your debit card before more damage is done.
Step 5: Notate a Positive Balance
Once you’ve finished balancing, make a note or draw a line so you know where to pick up the next time. If you use a paper statement, file your bank statement away for safe keeping, however eStatements are available online, are accessible quicker than paper statements, eliminate the concern over mailbox fraud, and don’t require you to find a place for safekeeping. You can sign up for eStatements via your online banking account.
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