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Tracking Your Checking Account

Today, checks and debit card transactions are debited from a checking account very quickly. If you write a check and do not have the money in your account you “bounce” a check. The bank returns the check to you unpaid, and the bank will charge you a hefty fee. Usually if this happens you will have written several checks and you get a fee for each one. It adds up! If you have a debit card on the account, it will be deactivated.

balancing checkbook imageIf you do not have an account at a bank yet, go to Savings and learn How Banks Work. Ready to have your own checking account? Try writing a check.

The bank gives you an organizer with your checks. Sometimes called a check register, or a check ledger, this organizer gives you a place to keep track of the activity in your account. What are activities?

Write down in your register whenever -

  1. you deposit money in your checking account
  2. you write a check
  3. you use your debit card
  4. you deduct a fee that the bank charges
  5. you withdraw money from your account

The trick is to keep up with it at the moment and not try to remember to fill it in later. It is very easy to forget to write in the times you use debit transactions. It may seem like a lot of work but you need the information to balance your account.  But I’ll just go on-line and find my balance, you say. It is easy to bank on-line but without your paper record you may not see errors in transactions – and it can happen. You can check your account balance on-line and think you have more money than you really have by forgetting transactions that have not been processed. Ready to get some practice?

image of check register

Number/Code: If you've written a check, put the check number here. Or use a transaction code: DC for Debit Card, ATM or a cash withdrawal, D for Deposit, and T for a transfer to your savings account, etc.

Date: Always record the date of anything you do.

Description of transaction: Make a quick note:

  • Pizza -- Kate's birthday (note for ATM withdrawal)
  • The Mart, school supplies (note for a check)
  •  Paycheck for August 15-31(note for a deposit)

Payment/Debit: Here you record the amounts of money going out of your account.

Deposit/Credit: Here you record the amounts of money coming into your account.

Do the math

As you enter each item, date it. Then in the far right column, either add or subtract to reach a new total. Make yourself record information at the time you write the check, use the ATM, or make the deposit. Two days later, you won't remember what you did. Did you deposit the whole check or did you take some money out? You may lose the receipt for purchase and not remember the amount to record. Did I go the ATM both Friday and Saturday? Get some practice!