How To Instant Balance Your Checkbook

By: Valerie Mills

Do you cringe each month when you see your bank statement arrive online or via snail mail?

You can banish traditional checkpoint balancing forever. How? By taking advantage of your bank’s “between statements" record-keeping. It’s perfectly legit and accomplishes exactly the same goal as statement balancing, but Instant Balancing is faster and simpler.

After all, the point of checkbook balancing is to make sure your bank hasn’t made any mistakes . . . and/or that you haven’t. Either way, most people want to avoid bouncing checks or the ever-embarrassing ATM “insufficient funds" message.

Hey, What About My Banking Software!

You say you have software for balancing your checkpoint? Get rid of it if all it does is balancing. This software compares bank records against its records and then you have to update your written checkbook records. These activities create way too much opportunity for error.

Things You Need for Instant Balancing

1. Your checkbook, the written one. If you insist on keeping the balancing program, then have the program checking account ready to review also. If you only keep your transactions in your software program, make sure it’s up-to-date.

2. Internet access. A simple dialup connection works just fine. An Internet security program is a must.

3. Access to your checking account ONLINE. Why? Because you’ll need “any time"
access to do Instant Balancing. If you don’t have this access, call your bank and find out how to get it. Ask for a web site name, and a username and password.

When To Do Instant Balancing

How often you Instant Balance depends on how many transactions you generate in a
given time frame. The greater the number of transactions, the higher the possibility of errors.

A guideline is to Instant Balance 1 to 2 weeks after the last time you wrote a bunch of transactions, like after you’ve paid the household bills.

If your timing is good, you may not have any balancing to do at all!

6 Instant Balancing Tips

1. Use a calculator for checkbook additions and subtractions. Even if you’re a math
wizard, you’ll make mistakes.

2. Because you may be logging onto the internet account infrequently, you may forget
your user name and password. Record the information and put it in a safe place.

3. Your bank account internet access may time out after a certain number of minutes.
Just log on again.

4. Most internet banks allow you to isolate transactions between certain dates. Use this
feature – it cuts down on the number of transactions to review.

5. Recent studies shows that 12% of identity theft occurs online. If you are afraid of
accessing your bank transactions online because of identity theft, don’t do it. Stick
with the paper statement balancing routine.

6. Instant Balancing works best when your checkbook is up to date. It will instantly
become Frustrated Balancing if you left out a few key postings, like an ATM
withdrawal or an automatic deposit.

How To Use Instant Balancing

Remember the goal - your checkbook balance must agree with the bank’s balance. The
assumption is that the bank has the right number. So, the bank’s balance won’t change, but your checkbook balance might.

The steps in the next section may seem a wee bit detailed at first. But, good news –
there’s 3 “you’re DONE’s" scattered throughout the steps. If you’re lucky, you’ll be
finished after step 2.

As with any new process, it may take a few times before you’re comfortable with
Instant Balancing. The secret to Instant Balancing is timing. If your timing is good,
you’ll finish at step 4. If it’s great, you’ll finish an instant after you access your online
bank balance.

Instant Balancing Steps

1. Sign onto your bank’s web site and access your checking account transactions (in
date order, latest transactions first.

2. Look at the bank’s balance and then your checking account balance.
If they agree, you’re DONE.

3. If they don’t agree, figure out the date you last balanced your checkbook.
* Find the transactions in the bank’s online records but NOT in your checkbook
from that date forward to the present.
* Record these transactions (checks/debits or deposits/credits) in your checkbook.

* Do the math to bring your balance up to date.

4. Look at the bank’s balance and then your updated checking account balance. If they
agree, you’re DONE.

5. If they don’t agree, remember the date you last balanced your checkbook.
* Find the transactions are in your checkbook but NOT in the bank’s online records
from that date forward.
* On a piece of scrap paper, ADD the transaction checks/debits to your checkbook balance.
* SUBTRACT the transaction deposits/credits from your checkbook balance.

6. Look at the bank’s balance and then your updated checking account balance.
If they agree, you’re DONE.

7. If they don’t agree, either the bank made an error or you did when you Instant Balanced. Try comparing the bank transactions against yours to find out who’s in error. If this doesn’t workComputer Technology Articles, you made a math error. Give it to someone else to check.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is beneficial if properly used by the reader.
The author cannot be held liable for monetary loss resulting from using Instant
Balancing or from failure to take adequate Internet security measures.

Copyright 2005 by Valerie Mills


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