Why I Should Reconcile My Checkbook Every Day
Oh checking account, why do you hate me so?
Personally, I don’t even understand why you’re called a checking account given that I use my debit card far more than I write checks. I try to love my checking account, reconciling it as often as I remember to do so, but sometimes time just gets away from me. Before I know it, it’s been a week or ten days since my last reconciliation.
I always use the excuse that there shouldn’t be that many transactions to go through because my wife and I always take out cash for our weekend spending, and we don’t spend much during the week. But I’m always surprised at how many transactions have occurred, and there seems to be some repeat offenders:
Itunes: Everyone in our family uses the same Apple ID, which is connected to my checking account. Anytime someone buys a song, an app, or a game, it comes out of the account.
Gas: I typically fill up our vehicles with gas using my debit card. Sometimes it posts right away, sometimes it takes a day or two. I seem to always assume that either it will post immediately or I’ll remember the amount.
Grocery Store: We try our very best to get all the groceries and household items we need during one gigantic trip to the store on the weekend. But, sometimes we think of an item or two that we forgot, OR we have a slight menu change. Swipe that debit card.
Vending Machines: I stopped carrying cash to work so I wouldn’t buy stuff from the vending machines. Then, they installed a new self serve system that allows you to pay with your debit /credit card. I’ve been known to get a soda or a candy bar from time to time.
I start at the top, and start recording the transactions in order until I reach the date that I last reconciled the account. I do the subtractions, and 8 times out of 10 it doesn’t match what my bank’s online portal says.
I double check the transactions, and realize I accidentally skipped one. More math, but it still doesn’t match.
Insert colorful language.
With my face all scrunched up in frustration, I start looking at some of the transactions I just added to my account register realizing that they are duplicates of ones I’d already recorded. I have learned that some of my repeat offenders (Itunes and self-serve break room, I’m looking at YOU) will post immediately as a preauthorization but won’t officially post until a few days later. The date of the transaction will be the date of the official posting, making me sometimes think it is a new transaction. I’ve even seen the transaction post as a preauthorization, then completely disappear for a day, and then post officially post again on a new date.
That sort of thing really messes with my head.
Reconciling my checking account has become a chore that almost always results in calculator keys being poked at with a much stronger force than necessary, colorful words being recited with each button press for emphasis, and a lot of frustration. The silly thing is that I know the solution, because I’ve done it in the past and it works beautifully.
My wife and I used to go over the checking account each morning over breakfast.
There weren’t more than one or two transactions posted in a given day, which makes reconciliation very easy. It only took us a few minutes, AND it kept us both on the same page with where we were at with our finances.
It’s time to start that routine back up again. Otherwise I’ll be budgeting for a new calculator soon.
Brought to you courtesy of Brock