The importance of balancing accounts
With online accounts and debit cards, it can be tempting to let all of your records be kept electronically. In the era of electronic records, however, it is especially important to balance your accounts at least once a month.
What balancing means
Balancing your accounts, checking or otherwise, means matching the transactions you have recorded and the transactions the bank has on record. Balancing your accounts means matching up those transactions to ensure that your records are correct and the bank records are correct. Banks do make mistakes, and trusting only the bank records means you could miss a mistake and not get it corrected in the time frame the bank allows. Balancing can also help prevent bounced checks and rejected transactions by ensuring that you have recorded all amounts.
The basics of balancing
Balancing your accounts requires simple math, your own records and a copy of bank records. Pull up a copy of your bank statement or retrieve a printed copy that has been mailed to you. Set it side-by-side with your personal record of transactions. Match the transactions the bank has on record with your personal records. Add all deposits and subtract all debits. If the final amount comes out the same, then you are safe. If the amount does not come out the same or transactions do not match, work backward until you find the discrepancy.
Easy tricks for keeping track
Recording every single transaction you make in a day can be difficult, especially if you use more than one card or account. There are several ways to easily keep track. The most basic record could be a notebook where you write down every transaction or a text file on your smartphone or laptop where you write every transaction. You could also take a picture of every receipt to make later record keeping easy.
If recording every single transaction is difficult for you, try purchasing a gift card or debit card at each location you spend money regularly, such as a Starbucks card for a specific amount. Then use only that prepaid card every time you make a transaction at that location. This keeps the number of transactions to record down and helps keep you on budget by giving a limited amount that you can spend at a particular location in a particular time period.