Checking and Debit Accounts, the Check Register
Your check register is your insurance policy against overdrafts and/or mistakes.
Class, you can follow along with me using the Illustration below (and for all those who already know how to complete a check register, please help those who are confused). Okay, so it's not a class, and the check register is serious and should be treated as such. But it doesn't have to be something that takes up loads of time. It doesn't even have to be hard to do. Once you know where everything goes, the rest is easy.
Relax, like this guy is doing.
The explanations begin--I'll try to keep it short
I'll try not to get too technical or serious with this subject because I know it is a dry subject. Dry subjects are so boring! But some explanations are necessary, so here goes:
The A1 lines are preprinted and tell you the use of each column. The top box to the far right is for the balance from the previous page or completed register. If this is a new account, you would put the amount that you used to start your account on this line.
The A2 line is for recording your transactions (what you put in or take out). It has two different colors because some people like to use two lines for explanations and some do not. It doesn't matter which way you use it since it is for your information. However, I strongly suggest that you keep it neat and readable. You never know when you might need to go back and check something.
The first column (marked with an "a") is where you put your check number. This line is important, because it helps you track issues and/or missing checks. If you void a check (make a mistake on it and can't use it), you should record the check number and write VOID in the transaction column-marked with a "c"(and on the check). I don't know how many times I have gone into my account to write a check and found a number missing. I would search high and low only to remember that I had to void it somewhere and asked them to throw it away. Bad choice on my part! If I had kept it, I would at least have known that I voided it. If you use an ATM, you would either leave this box empty or write "debit" there.
An illustration of a check register
This register might be easier for some people to use.
The "b" column is for the date of the transaction. Be sure to write it clearly in case you have to go back to it at a later date. If you are using two lines for your transactions, use the first line for the month and the second line for the day.
The 'c' column is for writing who the check is made out to as well as why you wrote the check. Or, if it is a deposit, you would write deposit in this section and perhaps a small explanation of what type. Using two lines makes this much easier because you don't have to squish everything on one small line.
The 'd' column is for recording the amount of the payment (check amount). Payments and deductions from your account are all that go here; note the (-) after the description which means this is an amount to be deducted from your account. Leave the second line blank or draw a line through it.
The "e" column is the column used to ‘check’ off the items that have cleared (or been processed by) your bank--this will be on your bank statement (different hub). You should not use this line except for this purpose because it could be confusing when reviewing for payments or searching for errors.
See, it is as easy as feeding the ducks.
The "f" column is the column you would use to record any fees you might have from the transaction such as fees for using an ATM not affiliated with your bank (not all check registers have this column so don't worry if your register does not have one). Most fees are noted up front when your transaction is made, however your bank may also add fees for such transactions or for different services rendered. Use the first line for this amount, but remember to add it to your transaction amount before balancing your checkbook.
The "g" column is column is used for any transaction that adds to your balance such as deposits you make by hand or automatic deposits from work; note the (+) after the description which means anything in this column is added to your account. Use the first line for this amount.
The "h" column is where you will balance your register so that you always know how much you have left in your account. Put the transaction amount on the first line (include any fees that may have been charged or will be charged). Add or subtract the amount to the balance above it and put the new balance on the second line (if you are using two lines for your transactions).
This is how a completed transaction should look.
Cocoa is trying, but I think he needs help. Yup, look at those eyes...
General Rules and Information about checking accounts, debit cards, and ATM's:
- I cannot stress this enough-----record everything on your check AND in your check register.
- Be sure to record any fees, additional costs or charges, additional information, etc. in the register before you calculate your balance. Don't wait 'until later' or you might forget a crucial piece of information (like a $1.00 charge from using an ATM) that could overdraw your account.
- Calculate your balance immediately or as soon as possible so you always know what you have in your account. It is very hard to be in a hurry, look at your register and see several payments or checks that have been written in but not balanced. I don't know about you, but I would be calculating on the back of the register or my hand to see how much I have left to spend because I can't calculate all that in my head.
- If you check for an electronic balance using an ATM or on-line banking, items that you have paid may not be recorded by the bank so you can't count on that amount being correct. Some businesses (like gas stations) may "hold" a certain amount from your account until the actual amount clears. Try to ask about this before you use your card.
- Record information on the memo line on your check as well as in your check register so you remember why you made the payment or wrote the check. This comes in handy in the future when you need to prove to someone that you made a payment.
- Keep all of your receipts and check your register to be sure each payment or charge is recorded before filing the receipt away for future reference. You will be surprised how important this step will be when balancing your check register to the bank statement (different hub). If you come to an amount that does not match what you have in your register, you can pull the receipt from your file.
© 2012 Cheryl Simonds
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