5 Essentials Everyone Should Know About Balancing a Checkbook

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Bouncing a check is no fun.  You will get a fee and the person or business who tries to cash your bounced check, may not be so forgiving.  Some businesses can add to your humiliation by adding your name to a wall, that says “Do not accept checks from..” (insert your name).  I always wonder when I see notes like that, if it was a one-time offense and fixed up, or if the person never paid.  But whatever the case, bouncing a check can be an innocent mistake.  It helps when writing a check to always, always, write down your check number, the amount paid, and the date it was written in your checkbook as a debit (also known as withdrawal).  Just an extra minute or so could save you headaches and embarrassments down the road.

I’m going to be going over some simple tips for writing a check and balancing a checkbook (also known as a register) in today’s article.

Keep Your Check Register with Your Checks At All Times

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If you keep your check register with your checks, it will be that much easier to remember to record your written check.  If you are in a hurry or running late, don’t just grab your checkbook without your check register.  I like to keep mine together in a billfold.  I look at the checkbook and register as two peas in a pod.  Always keep them in the same place.

Always Record Any Written Check in Your Register (Right Away)

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This may seem like a no-brainer, after the previous paragraph.  But we all get in a hurry and think we will record something later.  Even if it means making people behind you in a grocery line wait another 30 seconds, take the time to record the check you’ve just written before you head to the car.  Include the date written, the amount and the check number.  Make it a habit so that you will do it every time you write a check.

Keep Two Pens With Your Checkbook and Register

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It’s important to keep at least two pens with your checkbook and register.  The reason for two is that the first one might not be working.  It happens to me often.  Throw the one not working away when you get home, and replace it so that you always have two.  The reason you want to make sure you have pens with your checkbook is that if you don’t, you will end up borrowing a pen, and possibly returning the pen right after you write the check.  You might not want to keep a merchant waiting if you are writing a check at a place of business.  So out of kindness, you may not ask for a pen and thus not record the check amount in your register. Bad move. Just carry your own pens, so you don’t do this.

Teach Your Children to Write a Check and Balance A Register

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I include this tip because not only does teaching your kids to write a check and balance a register help them, but it may help you too.  From a young age, I taught my daughter how to write a check and record it in my register.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be driving somewhere, like to church on a Sunday and ask her to write a check for a certain amount, so it’s ready when we get there.  She loves helping, and it saves me time.  This also helps with her calculator skills.  I can check her work when I arrive at our destination.  So far she has a perfect check writing record.  She’ll fill in everything but the signature, which I fill in when we arrive at our destination.

Security Tips

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  1. Always use a pen whenever you write a check.  If you use a pencil, someone could erase and change the amount.  They could also change the name of the payee to their own name.  Be safe and make it permanent by using a pen.
  2. Be consistent with your signature.  Try your best to always write your signature the same way.   By using consistent signatures, you will help your bank in identifying fraud.  It will be easier for you to prove that you are not to be held responsible for charges if your signature does not match.
  3. Write big and fill in the whole check line.  The reason that it’s important to write big and fill in the whole check line, is because it’s harder for scammers to add numbers to your amount.  For example, if you were to write $9.25 small, a scammer could add some number to it, like $109.25 or even worse $1009.25.  Make it harder for thieves when writing a check, by using up the whole space.
  4. Always sign your check last.  When filling out a check to someone, put their name and the amount in before you sign it.  We all can get distracted.  It’s human nature not to be perfect.  So make sure that you never sign your check first, in case you forget to write the amount.  You never want to give anyone unlimited access to your checking account.

Final Thoughts

Writing a check and balancing a register is not hard.  Instead, it is one of those things that you should develop smart habits with.  Start with keeping your check register with your checks at all times.  Always record in your register immediately after or even before you write the check.  Keep two pens with your checkbook and register.  Teach your children to write a check and balance a register.  And above all, follow the security tips I’ve written about.  The adage of better safe than sorry is very true. Good luck!

For more information, check out our Top 10 Investing Apps of 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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