Personal Finance

A balancing act: How to properly organize your checkbook

With all the things you have to remember to do on a regular basis, balancing your checkbook doesn’t always receive priority. But if you plan ahead and schedule some time for this important task, you will reap the financial rewards.

Before you begin make sure you have the following items on hand: checkbook, ledger book, ATM and deposit receipts, calculator and a pencil. The next step is to check your items. First, separate your returned checks and ATM withdrawal slips into two distinct piles. Then place your returned checks in numerical order and compare them to your ledger book by writing an “X” in the ledger beside every figure that matches a cancelled check.

The next step is to put your ATM withdrawal slips in chronological order (that is, according to date) and compare them to your ledger book by placing an “X” beside every figure that matches an ATM withdrawal amount. You can make final changes to your ledger by comparing your deposit receipts with your bank statement. Write an “X” by every figure in the ledger that matches with a deposit receipt. If you notice any discrepancies after carrying out this relatively simple procedure, you must notify your bank immediately in order to rectify the situation.

To calculate your balance, record you checkbook’s current balance either at the top of a piece of paper, or on the back of your statement. It is recommended you use the back of your statement if your bank provides a worksheet there for calculating your balance. Now, subtract amounts for uncleared deposits and bank fees, including monthly fees and those for bounced checks, and subtract from your calculated total. Then add any uncleared checks and interest you have earned to this new figure. Finally, compare the final figure to your bank statement.

If you discover at this point in time that your bank has unfairly charged you for something, get in contact with them as soon as possible. Also, if you notice any discrepancies the first time around, or can’t reconcile your final balance to the bank statement, you might want to double and triple-check your calculations.