Balancing a Checkbook 101

You don’t have to be an accountant to know how to balance a checkbook. These days, most online banking websites do it for you, but the art of manually balancing a checkbook is getting lost. For those of you who don’t know how to balance a checkbook (or know what a checkbook is) here is my simple guide.

If you check your balances online, it’s easy to see where you spend your money. BUT banks make mistakes, and the Internet isn’t always reliable. Not many people have/use checks anymore, but if you have a ledger that comes with a checkbook, that’s a good place to start. You can always find one online. They look like this:

balance-checkbook-800x800

In the ledger, put your beginning balance in the top right corner. Say you start the month with $1,000. From there, deduct every debit card transaction amount in the debit column and any deposits you make in the deposit column. (Simple enough.)

So, say you buy breakfast with your debit card for $4.50. On the debit line under $1,000 write $4.50, and in the description box write “breakfast” and the date in the appropriate column. Directly beneath $1,000, calculate your new total by subtracting that transaction from your beginning balance (1,000 – 4.50). That becomes your new current balance, and your ledger should look like this:

balance-checkbook-2

This is a simple process, and if you retain receipts from your transactions, the process is even easier to track at a later time. You can eliminate this process altogether by only using cash, no debit card. I find that giving myself a cash limit every week helps me manage my spending and allows me to physically see how much I’m spending—and whether it’s for food or entertainment/extracurricular activities.

It’s important to know how to balance a checkbook in case the bank makes a mistake with your digital records. You will have the skill to show them hard evidence that they messed up. Leave me comments below!

 

WikiHow — “How to Balance a Checkbook” 

Huffington Post — “5 Budget Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making”

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