Reconciling Your Checking Account

Do you find one of the most difficult household record keeping tasks to perform is reconciling your checking account and keeping track of are the checks you write and the times you use your debit card? I sure did and I put it off for months and months until finally, I had such a mess in my checking account, I had to close it and start a new one. I’ve learned my lesson and have resolved some of the issues that caused all my frustrations.

I find using checks with a duplicate copy a really good idea because I always have a record of the amount of each check. Also, every time I use a debit card, I am careful to put the receipt in my checkbook. This serves as a reminder for me to update my check register. No matter what kind of check writing method you use, it is very important that you keep track of all of your transactions in your check register.

When you receive your checking account statement from the bank, put it in a place where it won’t be forgotten. I usually put it with my bills to be paid. That way I know I will remember to reconcile my account each month. If you toss it in an unfamiliar place, you will surely forget to balance your account later on.

Selecting a specific time to reconcile your account each month is a good habit to get into. I know life can be very hectic at times and only you know when you will have enough time to devote without interruption. When you are ready, gather your account statement, your checkbook and your check register along with all ATM transactions for the previous month.

With all that said, let’s get started! I am going to make this quick and painless, I promise.

DEBITS: All money items charged to your account including checks written, debit card purchases, ATM cash withdrawals, fees and charges.

CREDITS: All money items put into your account including deposits you make and interest you might earn.

Grab a blank piece of paper and we will create a ** Worksheet for you to use to reconcile your account.

On the first line write: CHECKBOOK BALANCE: Next to that, write the balance amount your check register says you have in your account.

On the second line write: BANK BALANCE: Next to that, write the final balance shown on your bank statement.

On the third line write: OUTSTANDING ITEMS: do not write anything next to it just yet.

Your worksheet should look like this:


BANK BALANCE: $1,230.00


Now, referring to your check register, put a check mark next to those items that have been cashed. You will find these items listed on your Bank Statement. When you’ve finished, go back through your check register and look for items that are not checked … put an “O” next to all those items. These are your “Outstanding Items”.

Next, list all the items that have “O” next to them under the line Outstanding Items and then add them all up. Add a line for this total … Total Outstanding Items.

Now your worksheet should look something like this (example):


BANK BALANCE: $1,230.00


Check #123 $15.00

Check #126 125.00

Check #130 90.00

Total Outstanding Items: 230.00

Subtract from Bank Balance: $1,000.00

The example shows that there is a discrepancy between your Checkbook Balance ($1,002.50) and your Bank Balance ($1,000.00) of plus (+) $2.50. So now you have to go hunting and find out why. Ugh!

So …. Ask yourself:

Did I add or subtract correctly? You must check.

Did I forget to add an item? Check the sequence of your checks. Is there one missing?

Did I forget to deduct an ATM service charge? Check all your ATM deposits to make sure you’ve subtracted each fee.

Did I forget to deduct my bank service charge? BINGO THAT’S IT! and it was $2.50!

You’ve reconciled your account and you are IN BALANCE with your bank!

Draw a red line under the last balance in your checkbook register and write “In Balance and the date” so you will know this is the last time your checkbook agreed with the bank statement. Do the same on your bank statement too. Believe me; it will save a lot of headaches, down the road, when you may have a difficult time trying to reconcile your account. This way you only have to go back to the previous red line.

** Usually found on the back of your bank statement is a worksheet similar to the one we’ve created above. You most certainly can use that to reconcile your account. Just apply the same principles as described above.