7 Reasons to Balance Your Bank Accounts Each Month

Stay on Top of Your Cash Flow

If you are trying to change your financial picture, it is essential to track your expenses each month. It allows you to know what you have spent and where. It is just as important to balance your checking account and credit cards to the bank statement each month. It is a bit of an extra step, but it allows you to spot problems with your account, and it can prevent you from overdrawing. Whether you are tracking your accounts with pen and paper or using financial software, this is an important step you need to complete. Learn seven reasons you need to take the time to balance your checking account to your statement each month. 

Catch Mistakes You Made

Couple balancing their checkbook and found a mistake.
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One of the biggest reasons you should balance your checking account to your statement is to catch any mistakes with your record keeping. It may seem obvious if you are keeping track manually, but even if you are using software, you may make mistakes in entering your deposits or transactions. These may be minor mistakes, but transposing numbers can end up with the balance being off. Balancing to your bank statement will help catch those and prevent you from accidentally overdrawing.

Track Your Spending

Woman tracking her spending by balancing her checkbook.
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When you balance your checking account, you can also track your expenses. It is very easy to do this with personal finance software which provides a running total. When you enter the transaction into your app, it will automatically track your spending so that you know when to stop spending. It also helps you plan for the annual expenses because you can look back over your spending for the year and see things you may have forgotten to budget. 

Catch Mistakes Your Bank Has Made

Man working with bank to correct errors in his account.
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Banks have been known to make mistakes. However, if you are not balancing to your account, you may not realize that a deposit is missing or withdrawal is unauthorized. There is a paper trail that the banks use and you should be able to work with your bank to correct any mistake.  

Catch Fraudulent Changes

Identity Thief Reaching for Social Security Card in Wallet
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Identify theft is becoming more and more common. Your debit card information may have been stolen. The thieves then use the card information to make purchases online. Sometimes these are large transactions, but sometimes they do several smaller transactions, if you do not balance your account, you may not catch these charges.

Banks and credit card companies have a period of time in which you can report fraudulent charges, usually between thirty and ninety days from the date of the statement. This is why it is important to balance your account each month. This can also help you catch things like a transaction accidentally being run twice at a store. 

Be Aware of Where You Are Financially

Couple discussing financial bills after balancing their checkbook.
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If money is tight and you are living from paycheck to paycheck, then you need to carefully track your spending to make sure you do not accidentally overdraw your account. This may happen if you are married and you are both accessing your checking account.

It is important to balance your account so that you know where you are and how much money you have left to spend until your next paycheck. You can also avoid this by building in a cushion of at least $100 into your budget. This can prevent you from overdrawing because of a simple math mistake. 

Catch Automatic Payments That Have Not Gone Through

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You may have an automatic payment set up to pay club dues, pay medical bills, insurance, or other small monthly payments. These payments should go through without a hitch, but sometimes if the company has switched over to a new system or you get a new credit card number, the payments may not go through. In some cases, it may not be a big deal, but if it ends up with your insurance being canceled, or late fees, it may end up costing you more than you realize. When you balance your statement each month, it allows you to catch these mistakes and contact the company to make sure that everything is okay.  

Stop Small Things From Becoming Large Things

A woman using an ATM that will charge her account a fee.
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When you balance your account, you may catch small fees or mistakes that do not seem like a lot on the surface. You may remember to record the ATM withdrawal, but not the additional fee that your bank charges for using a different bank’s ATM. These fees may be small, but if you do not catch them and add them into your balance, you may end up overdrawing your account. When you overdraw your account, fees can add up quickly and send you into the overdraft cycle.