A useful skill, even in a digital age Do you know how much money you have in your checking account? If you keep your checkbook balanced, answering that question becomes easier.
Balancing, reconciling, whatever you want to call it – this is a core financial skill, even if you happen to do all your banking online. If you bounce a check, overdraft fees can be high.
While apps like Mint and Prism give you a real-time look at account balances, transactions, and monthly debts to pay, their alerts and notifications do not necessarily instill good money habits. Balancing a checkbook takes just a few minutes a month and having a hard-copy portrait of your checking account is a plus. Noting your transactions (and fees) helps you keep on top of your personal finances. (It may even help you spot a mistake.)1
First step: consistently record what happens with your checking account. Consistency is everything. Record debit card withdrawals, ATM deposits and withdrawals, even fees. If jotting all this down in that bland-looking check register gives you the blues, consider using a check register app on your phone or tablet as an alternative.
Second step: reconcile. Reconciling occurs when you compare your monthly checking account statement with your personal record of checking account activity. Ideally, you look at them and find no difference. If something seems amiss, you can quickly determine whether it is a case of bank error or human error. (Some personal financial apps have a reconciling function that makes this whole process more-or-less instant.)2
Balancing your checkbook is easier than ever. You could elect to be nonchalant about it, especially if you happen to have a huge balance in a personal (or business) checking account – but a carefree attitude might leave you poorer and more pinched financially than you want to be. It is best to be thrifty and keep track of your deposits and withdrawals.
J. Cain Leonard may be reached at 704-735-7427 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Leonardwealth.net
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
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Citations. 1 - nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/budgeting-saving-tools/ [3/13/18] 2 - capitalone.com/financial-education/money-basics/balancing-budget/balance-your-checkbook/ [8/28/18]