Manage Your Money
Master the skills that can help you manage money throughout life.
How to Use a Check Register
A short tutorial on tracking your expenses using a check register
When you have a bank account, money goes in (income) and out (expenses) all the time. If you don’t keep track of your cash flow, you can have more going out than coming in, causing your account to be overdrawn. If this happens, you may be facing a cluster of fees, from your bank and one or more businesses to which you promised payment.
How can you avoid this mess? By keeping a tally of your transactions. You do this with a check register. This accounting tool allows you to jot down your deposits (income) and withdrawals (expenses), so that you can track your balance at all times.
Four Ways To Use a Check Register
- Keep a record of all your transactions, whether they’re automatic (like a direct deposit paycheck from your job, or regular monthly payment for your student loan) or one-time payments (like a car repair bill).
- Include online transactions, ATM withdrawals, and any paper checks you deposit or write.
- Reconcile your account — that is, compare your records with the bank’s records for accuracy — so that you catch errors (made by you, the bank, or places of business). Reconciling can even help you recognize when you may have an incidence of identity theft.
- Review your check register on a regular basis and your account will stay in good financial shape.
Sample check register