While balancing your check book is not a difficult thing to do, the statistics say that you probably don’t do it. According to Moebs Services, an economic research firm, 87% of consumers don’t balance their checking accounts.
If you don’t know how much money is in your account, you’re much more likely to bounce a check or incur some other type of bank fee. Many people assume that they can rely on their ATM receipts to keep track of their checking balance, but these do not show outstanding checks. They may also not show debit card transactions which can lead a person to think there is more money in the account than there truly is.
The first step to rectifying this situation is to take a look at your checkbook and see how long it has been since you last balanced it. Once you have determined that, you have one of three choices:
1) Balance the checkbook.
2) Take the banks word on your current balance and write the balance from your last statement you received as a starting point. If you have cashed checks or made ATM or debit card transactions since then, balance the checkbook with those transactions included.
3) If your checking account is in such a state that you don’t know where to start, then begin keeping track of everything from today and just forget about everything previously. When your next checking statement arrives, you can balance everything from that.
The most important step is not which of the three you choose, but simply to get started. You may want to stick a post-it note “balance now” reminder on the outside of your checkbook. This way if you haven’t been in the habit of balancing it every time you have written a check, you’ll have a small reminder to do so. If you use an ATM card and / or debit card that takes money out of your checking account, you can place them inside the checkbook so that whenever you use either, the checkbook is right there to balance.
Knowing how much you have in your account will make it much less likely that you incur any banking fees on your checking account which can save you quite a bit of money.