How to Balance Your Checkbook

It is surprising how many people have never learned the basic skill of balancing a checkbook. Nevertheless, learning to balance a checkbook is an essential skill if you want to control your money, not let it control you. If you haven't mastered it yet take time to do so now.

Prepare to Balance Your Checkbook

The process is simple. It usually gets complicated only when people get behind several months. To avoid this you need to do a balance check every time a new statement arrives, usually at the first of each month.

There are a few things you need to do your work efficiently. Two items you must have to balance your checkbook are your checkbook register and your bank statement. A pen to write with and some paper are also necessary.


A calculator is also handy, and with some of us close to being a necessity (not that we can't add and subtract when we have to but it does represent a major impediment when we have a lot to do).

It may help to have one of the forms such as those that come in many bank statements, but once you get used to doing this it will be easy without it.

Find a comfortable place to work. I work at my desk where I can access my desktop computer and have a flat surface to make it easier to make entries in my check register—there are always a few entries to make such as automatic payments and monthly interest deposits.

Basic Steps to Balance Your Checkbook

The steps are few and usually go quickly. The only time it requires more than a few minutes is when you have made entry errors so it pays to be careful when doing them and make sure you write legibly in your check register.

1, make sure all the transactions you have made are entered in your checkbook. All checks you have written, all deposits made, all bank entries like interest and services charges on your statement, and all automatic deposits or withdrawals should be included. Don't forget less obvious items such as ATM transactions.

2nd, compare your checkbook register with your bank statement. Add up all charges and deposits that you have made (checks written or ATM transactions, etc.) that have not yet arrived at the bank and are not on your statement but are now in the check register.

3rd, “balance” the two numbers. Begin with the balance given on your bank statement. Add to this the total of your unlisted deposits not shown on the statement. Subtract from this the total of any outstanding (not shown yet) expenditures. This number should now equal the amount on your fully updated checkbook.

If the numbers do not match, then it is a matter of looking for and correcting one or more errors until they do. Make sure all entries are the same. It is easy to leave off cents, enter a check twice, or make some other small error. Often differences are explained by checks written some time ago but which have not yet cleared the bank.

If the above is not enough information for you, check out Balancing Your Checkbook: Step-by-Step Instructions on for more information about balancing your checkbook than you will ever want to know!

Balance Your Checkbook Regularly

The process of balancing a checkbook really isn’t too difficult. For most it is mostly a matter of self-discipline. But it is important, so balance your checkbook and do it consistently.