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A fab pair of Jimmy Choo boots you’ve been eyeing for weeks now are finally on sale. What do you know; the last pair is in your size. You decide it’s a divine sign from above and the rest is history. Next week you go to the ATM for an account balance only to discover that what you thought was there was not. You did not have enough in your account to cover your boots plus a few other things. Your bank was nice enough to honor your purchases since usually you’re a responsible customer, but not without a fees.

We live in a fast paced society with technology changing everyday, making it increasingly easier to move even more quickly and almost effortlessly. In the midst of the economic hurricane, we have to weather the storm by keeping a close eye and an even stronger hold on our finances. One way to do this is to use the tools available to us, one being the check register, a forgotten tool by many. Believe it or not, with the advent of debit cards and online banking, many no longer write down all their daily financial transactions or balance their checkbook, a lost art. Debit cards, which allow us to make purchases safely and securely without having to carry cash, may also work against us because they to allow us to make purchases so fast. This can result in costly NSF fees that can be as high as $30 for most banks, and dipping into savings to cover expenses. Not good. Online banking, though a great tool, should not be used to balance your checkbook. By doing this you rely on bank information only which is not always accurate, says Tanai Coleman, Founder of TMC Financial Consulting, www.tmcfc.typepad.com. Check registers really can be a powerful tool when used, as it aids you in knowing exactly what you have available in the bank at all times. Taking the time to stop and balance your account by writing all your deposits, withdrawals, and purchases down the moment you make the transaction eliminates any surprises and saves you money. In today’s economic turmoil, isn’t it worth it to slow down a bit for the money you worked so hard to earn?

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  • ceecee

    I am so glad you are writing about this now, and I hope to see more articles like this on Clutch.
    *going off to balance my checkbook*

  • Great read… it’s definitely spot on. I remember learning how to balance checkbooks in my accounting classes in high school. It really is better to do it that way, rather than relying on what your bank tells you online. Alot of the times, they don’t log pending transactions, so you may think you have more money than you really do. Hate to say it, but I’ve been a victim = /

  • Shang

    Great Article! I make sure I balance my checkbook. .

  • Great article Arlice, and very timely. Another great tip is to be sure to keep your ATM and teller receipts until you balance your checkbook for the month. Should you find out that you have a missing deposit or some other discrepancy that may not be your fault, you have a MUCH better shot at getting the snafu corrected if you have your receipt.

  • Good info here. Personally, I like to use a combination of Quicken and mint.com to keep track of everything – Quicken to know where my money is coming from and going to, and mint to see what has cleared and what hasn’t. It’s a good system. =D