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Oscar Dominguez: How to balance your saving and your spending plans

Union Bank

Posted: July 31, 2009 8:36 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Reconciling (or balancing) your bank statement to correspond with the account balance in your checkbook register each month can help you monitor your available funds, avoid bounced checks and serve as a warning system against unusual activity such as identity theft.

To make reconciling your bank statement easier, record each transaction into your checkbook register in a timely manner throughout the month. As an added measure of accuracy, consider using a checkbook with duplicate, carbonless checks that provide a copy of each written check as a backup. If you need to confirm to whom a certain check was written and you do not have duplicate checks, consider accessing the check image online. Many banks offer online access to their clients' cleared checks. With this feature, you may also access your account online and update your checkbook register with the most recent transactions.

Consider these tips when reconciling your bank statement:

n Gather your records. Collect your ATM, deposit, and debit card receipts, sort them by date and enter them into your check register if not already entered. Make sure any checks you have written are also entered, as well as automatic deposits and/or withdrawals. Once your check register is updated, you can begin comparing the amounts with those on your bank statement.

n Cross-reference for accuracy. Starting at the top of the bank statement, cross reference each item with the corresponding amount in the checkbook register. If the amounts coincide, enter a check mark next to the amount on the bank statement as well as both a check mark next to the amount in the check register. Keep in mind that you will not usually have a receipt for an electronic banking transaction such as direct deposits or accrued interest. For these banking-related items, review the amounts on the statement for accuracy before entering them in your register. If there is no record in your checkbook register or among your receipts for an item on your statement and the transaction appears unusual, contact your bank to obtain additional information.

n Tally register transactions after statement period. Once you have cross referenced all items on your bank statement with the amounts in your register, locate the ending balance on the bank statement, flip the statement over and record the ending balance.

Also on that page, make a list of any charges (uncleared checks, withdrawals, debit card charges) that are in your register but not on your statement and total them. Make a separate list of any credits (deposits, store returns) that are in your register but not on your statement and total them. Next, add the total credits to the ending balance for a new total. Then subtract the total charges from the new total for your final balance. This new balance should correspond with the ending balance in your check register. If the balances are not equal, review your checkbook register for possible unrecorded items, transposed numbers or calculation errors.

As both a complement and a convenient mechanism for double-checking your system of reconciliation, you may also wish to research online software programs that enable you to download your transactions from your online banking platform and reconcile your transactions automatically.

Oscar Dominguez is vice president and branch manager of the Stevenson Ranch branch of Union Bank. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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