Perhaps you remember your mom or dad – or yourself! – sitting down with their paper bank statement at the end of each month, meticulously comparing it to the check register in their checkbook and making sure finances balanced out.
Well, those days are long gone. Unless you’re paying rent or making a big purchase, most of us no longer rely on checks to make payments. With copious advances in technology, banking online is safe, secure and convenient. It has in many ways simplified our lives, but it also can make it a lot easier to overspend without even realizing it.
Check registers may be outdated, but tracking your spending is not. Balancing your checkbook is still a valuable tool in money management, it’s just now easier than ever to do.
Here are some suggestions on how to balance your checkbook in the 21st century, courtesy of wisebread.com:
- Utilize online banking: With a few clicks, you have real-time access to your checking accounts, and nearly every financial institution encourages this service these days. You don’t have to wait until the end of the month for your bank statement, you can immediately see your available balance and check for errors.
- Use smartphone apps: Most banks also offer corresponding apps, making it even easier for you to check your balances, transfer funds and remote deposit checks. Current Blog also advises these apps to digitally balance your checkbook:
- Mint: Connect your bank accounts, credit cards, loan payments and other finances to see your full financial picture as well as set budgets and schedule bills.
- WalletWhiz: This app goes above and beyond checkbook balancing with its calendar view, making it easy to see spending patterns.
- PocketMoney: For Android users, this app lets you see all your financial information including retirement investment totals and trading options.
- QuickBank Checkbook: A simple app that helps you manage daily expenses and incoming cash. This is a great tool for balancing business accounts.
- ClearCheckbook: This app stores information on the cloud, making it accessible across devices. It also allows you to sync accounts together, get email reminders of upcoming bills and track spending.
If the phrase “balance your checkbook” still has you picturing a paper bank statement and physical check register, lose that image and think about the idea of tracking your money instead – a term that never goes out of style.
Keeping track of your money helps you know how much you can spend, where that money is going, catch mistakes your bank has made and is the fastest way to catch fraudulent transactions. This last key is critical, considering most banks require you to report suspicious and fraudulent charges within 30-60 days after they occur.
Though the methods have changed, the principal is the same; balancing your checkbook is crucial to a healthy financial picture. Take the time to regularly check in on your finances – your future self will thank you for it.