Maintaining a Transaction Register
Let’s face it — managing your checking account isn’t always easy to fit into your busy schedule. Learning to keep track of your finances and expenses helps you gain control over your spending habits, and avoid the possibility of returned checks and overdraft fees.
The most basic and important step in managing your checking account is to keep a list of your transactions and a running balance in a transaction register. A current register allows you to know how much money is in your account at all times.
A register comes with your check order, or you can pick one up from your banker. If you prefer to go electronic, downloadable electronic registers are available for mobile devices.
Record all transactions when they occur. Remember to record any automatic payments, such as monthly gym membership or utility payments. Immediately record debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals, as they can be easily forgotten.
TIP: If you don’t carry your register with you, get in the habit of placing the receipt in your wallet (not in the shopping bag), and update your register at the end of the day.
Balancing Your Account
Balancing your account regularly is an essential task in owning a checking account. Balancing ensures all transactions are recorded properly in your register and by the bank. Balance monthly when you receive your bank statement, or keep a closer eye on your account by using online banking to balance more frequently. Balancing every week or two will keep your register in order, and if a mistake is made, catching it early will minimize any problems.
Your bank statement has a balancing form and instructions on the back, or use our Account Balancing Form.
- Compare Bank Transactions to Register: carefully compare the transactions on your bank statement, one by one, to your register. As you match transactions, place a checkmark next to the item in your register and next to the same item on your statement. Some items take longer to clear the bank, so transactions may not appear on the bank statement in the same order as your register. Any items in your register that do not have a checkmark are outstanding items that have not yet cleared the bank.
- Update Register: review all transactions on your bank statement that did not get checked. These are items that cleared the bank but were not recorded in your register. If you recognize the item, you simply need to record it in your register and subtract it from your balance. If you do not recognize the item, contact your banker immediately for investigation.
- Complete Balancing Form: now, it’s time to see if you balance.
- Insert your statement balance in box A on the account balancing form.
- List and total all transactions not on your bank statement (these are the items in your register that do not have a checkmark).
- List any deposits you made that did not appear on the bank statement.
- The total should equal your register balance. If they match – hooray – your checkbook is in balance!
- Resolving Problems: if the totals do not match, try these tips to find the difference.
- If you use a paper register, check your math with a calculator.
- Repeat step 1 to ensure you checked off items correctly.
- Make sure you listed all outstanding (unchecked) items on the balancing form.
- Contact your banker for help if you do not find the error.