A long time friend of mine brought up something I hadn’t considered with banking – how balancing one’s checkbook has become a lost art and how it’s costing people a ton of money with bank fees. For example when she worked at a bank there were a few customers that kept over-drafting on their accounts.
They’d go to the bank to ask why they’ve over-drafted. They took money out from the ATM and the balance shown lead them to believe that they had plenty of money there. In many cases, it was because they hadn’t remembered or record some auto drafts that they had set up with account. Their car insurance would be taken out, but since they signed up with the insurance company for the draft, it didn’t show up with bank’s system until it came out (and it was too late).
They were hit with overdraft fees. With some banks that can trigger a cascade of fees. By keeping an up to date check register some people can save a ton of money while staying on top of their bills.
How to Use a Check Register
To keep track of your account, you simply need a check register, a pen/pencil, and a calender. The process is simple and it only takes a few minutes at a time.
- Take your calender and write down all your scheduled deposits (like your paycheck) and regular debits (like your car insurance premiums).
- Each time you make a deposit or withdrawal, update your register accordingly. To keep your balance accurate, include your scheduled deposits and withdrawals as they happen.
- Keep track of all your ATM and check card transactions (perhaps review once a week or month).
- Double check for any bank fees and investigate. You may find that your bank or credit union charges too much and it would be better to move your money elsewhere.
- Make sure your balance and the bank’s balance matches up. Investigate if necessary.
Even if you rely on sites and programs like Mint or Quicken, it’s good to run the numbers yourself occasionally to make sure you’re not missing anything. After all no one cares about your money like you do.
Thoughts on Keeping Tabs on Checking Accounts
I’d like to hear from you and how your handle your money. How do you check your bank accounts’ balances? Do you manually keep tabs or do you have another way getting that information? What programs or sites do you recommend?