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A checkbook register is a form that accompanies checks for the purpose of tracking and balancing checking accounts. The register normally comes as a small booklet that can be inserted into a checkbook cover along with checks. There are specific fields included on the register form that help account holders track their spending and balance their checkbook.
The specific fields included on a checkbook register are designed to record detailed information. The date a transaction is made, the check number, a memo line for recording who or what a check was written for or a debit was made, and a field for recording the amount of the check or debit are common fields. An additional field to record any deposits or credits to the account and a final field for carrying a running total balance are also included. There are usually additional fields to mark indicators when each check has cleared as well as a column to mark if the purchase or expense is tax deductible.
To help manage personal finances, a register is essential to track spending and to balance the account against a monthly bank-issued statement. The complete extent to which a register is used is up to the individual account holder, but complete record keeping makes tracking, recording, and budgeting finances much simpler than without good records. Small business owners may also find the records kept in their checkbook register essential to complete their taxes.
If you are like many people who do a poor job of recording checking information in a register, you might consider developing new habits. By recording the details of every purchase or expense paid for with a check, you not only see where your money is going, but also have a record of any discrepancies that might arise. Rarely do registers balance out to the penny when compared to bank statements due to human mathematical errors, but having a record of expenses is very helpful when planning a personal budget.
Financial experts recommend keeping registers and the corresponding bank statements for a period of at least one year from the date of the last check recorded. You can store them in file folders in drawers or in plastic bins designated to personal records. Stack the checkbook register and the statements together, wrap a rubber band around them, and mark them with a date. This way, if you want to see what your electric bill or grocery expenses were for the past six or twelve months, you have an easily accessible record.
If you have never used a checkbook register in association with your checking account or never write checks off your account, but only use a debit or check card, you can ask someone at your bank to show you the best way to track your expenses and complete your register. Stellar financial record keeping such as this is the best way to properly and efficiently manage your finances.
My aunt is a retired math teacher and she is a fiend about keeping her check register absolutely accurate. She will hunt for days for a 32-cent discrepancy. She doesn't like computers or using the Internet, but she keeps her checkbook up to date all the time.
I guess the one advantage is, if you keep a really accurate register, you can keep the registers indefinitely, so you might be able to find a missing or incorrect check after the bank has thrown their records away. I keep a check register, but not as neatly as my aunt. Like Scrbblchick, I depend a lot on my online bank statement.
I'm sure it's mostly a sign of the times, but I haven't used my check register in years. I rarely write checks anymore, and I always keep track of my account online.
I pay for everything with my debit card, and get a money order to pay my rent since my landlady is notorious about not depositing rent checks in the bank in a timely fashion.
Having said that, I think it's important for young people to learn to use a check register, even if they don't ever write checks. I say this because having a check register does help you keep an idea of exactly how much money you're spending. If you're writing it down, I think it sticks in your mind a little more.
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