Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

January 24, 2023

A monthly accounting helps you spot errors, detect fraud and understand spending patterns.

 

If you’re one of the millions of Americans using a checking account, you should know how to keep it balanced, which may help you avoid overdraft charges and minimize the risk of suspicious activity going unnoticed.

A checking account is one of the most popular options for the more than 92 percent of American households who have a bank account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

 

Understanding your checking account

A checking account is a bank account that lets you easily access your deposited funds by writing a check. You can also shop online or use the debit card associated with your account. Checking accounts are available in several varieties, including basic accounts, student accounts and interest-bearing accounts. There are many benefits of using a checking account:

  • They often don’t require a qualifying credit score.
  • They can be created for individuals, couples or corporations.
  • They can be used to receive direct deposit paychecks.
  • Most checking accounts can be accessed instantly online.
  • Many of them require just a small balance, making it a useful learning tool for teens.
  • Most of them offer optional overdraft protection to keep your balance from going negative.

 

Monitor your checking account balance, transactions

Balance your checkbook by monitoring transactions, checking monthly statements and reconciling expenditures. Doing so provides a variety of benefits. You can spot bank or payment mistakes faster, reduce the risk of financial theft, limit overdraft fees and recognize spending patterns that may enable you to spend less.

 

Document transactions

A balanced checkbook starts with keeping track of every transaction you make. Though most of us don't physically write out many checks anymore, the check register is still a good place to note everything you spend. Otherwise, you could use a spreadsheet on your computer, a financial app for your smartphone or computer, or a receipt book where you keep receipts from every purchase made using your checking account.

 

Check monthly account statements

Whether you get your monthly account statement mailed to your home or receive it electronically, you’ll want to get in the habit of reading it line by line to make sure that nothing stands out as incorrect. Common mistakes and warning signs include:

  • Unusual expenditures
  • Charges from vendors you don’t recognize
  • Math errors

 

Reconcile what’s spent with what’s left

To avoid an overdraft, keep track of your checking account deposits and withdrawals. Reconciling your spending with your balance helps prevent overspending, which could lead to overdraft fees or checks being returned due to insufficient funds. A great way to stay ahead of spending is to keep a running balance of what’s available in your account. Even before a check has been cashed, it should be recorded so you know exactly what is in your account at any given time.

 

 

Now that you know how to keep your checking account in check, learn more about what kind of checking account might be best for you.

Related content

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

Overcoming high interest rates: Getting your homeownership goals back on track

Family planning for the LGBTQ+ community

Do I need a financial advisor?

How to gain financial independence from your parents

Should you buy now, pay later?

Building a dream home that fits your life

How to increase your savings

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

4 tips to help you save for retirement in your 20s

Money Moments: How to manage your finances after a divorce

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

LGBTQ+ retirement planning: What you need to know

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

Can fantasy football make you a better investor?

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

3 ways to keep costs down at the grocery store (and make meal planning fun)

5 unexpected retirement expenses

How to retire happy

The mobile app to download before summer vacation

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

Do your investments match your financial goals?

Working after retirement: Factors to consider

6 pandemic money habits to keep for the long term

Year-end financial checklist

Key milestone ages as you near and start retirement

What financial advice would you give your younger self?

LGBTQ+ financial planning: 7 reasons why it matters

4 steps to finding a charity to support

How to discuss money with your family

7 ways for pre-retirees to get ready for retirement

Insource or outsource? 10 considerations

How to protect your digital assets in your estate plan

Travel for less: Smart (not cheap) ways to spend less on your next trip

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

6 questions to ask before buying a new home

What you should know about buying a car

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

How to get started creating your business plan

How having savings gives you peace of mind

Unexpected cost savings may be hiding in your payment strategy

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How much house can you afford?

These small home improvement projects offer big returns on investment

Car shopping: Buying versus leasing your next vehicle

8 steps to choosing a health insurance plan

What to do when you lose your job

What’s in your emergency fund?

Make your business legit

Retirement income planning: 4 steps to take

What you need to know about renting

4 reasons estate planning is important

Reviewing your beneficiaries: A 5-step guide

What is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and what can it be used for?

Is it the right time to refinance your mortgage?

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

I own two electric vehicles. Here’s what I’ve learned about buying and driving EVs.

What types of agency accounts are available for investors?

9 simple ways to save

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

Annual insurance review checklist

5 financial goals for the new year

Allowance basics for parents and kids

Estate planning documents: Living trusts vs. will vs. living will

How to track your spending patterns

Steer clear of overdrafts to your checking account

How to manage your money: 6 steps to take

6 tips on trust fund distributions to beneficiaries

A beginner's guide to investing

Good debt vs. bad debt: Know the difference

3 awkward situations Zelle can help avoid

Investment strategies by age

A who’s who at your local bank

Finding a side gig to fund your goals

Managing the impacts of appraisal gaps in a hot housing market

Protecting cash balances with sweep vehicles

It’s time for a fresh start: A new way of thinking

Military homeownership: Your guide to resources, financing and more

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

First-timer’s guide to savings account alternatives

What are conforming loan limits and why are they increasing

The connection between your health and financial well-being

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

How I did it: My house remodel

How do I prequalify for a mortgage?

8 steps to take before you buy a home

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

Get more home for your money with these tips

How to build wealth at any age

Retirement planning in the gig economy

How to use your unexpected windfall to reach financial goals

Money management guide to financial independence

Buying or leasing? Questions to ask before signing a contract

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

What military service taught me about money management

Improving your credit score: Truth and myths revealed

What is Medicare? Understanding your coverage options

5 steps to take before transitioning your business

Recognize. React. Report. Don't fall victim to financial exploitation

7 year-end tax planning tips

Should I itemize my taxes?

Money Moments: How to finance a home addition

Tips for working in the gig economy

How to best handle unexpected expenses

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

Dear Money Mentor: How do I pick a savings or checking account?

Webinar: Smart habits and behaviors to achieve financial wellness

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

Myths vs. facts about savings account interest rates

Key components of a financial plan

7 things to know about long-term care insurance

Retirement planning strategies for dual-income families

5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

What I learned from my mom about money

What corporate treasurers need to know about Virtual Account Management

How to open and invest in a 529 plan

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

4 financial considerations before changing jobs

6 common money mistakes to avoid

Stay on budget — and on the go — with a mobile banking app

How to choose the right business checking account

How grandparents can contribute to college funds instead of buying gifts

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

How to financially prepare for a military PCS

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Understanding guardianship and power of attorney in banking

How to use debt to build wealth

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

How to winterize your vehicle

Housing market trends and relocation impact

High-cost housing and down payment options in relocation

For today's relocating home buyers, time and money are everything

Crypto + Relo: Mobility industry impacts

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

Take the stress out of buying your teen a car

Financial steps to take after the death of a spouse

How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

How to manage your money when you're self-employed

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

Dear Money Mentor: When should I refinance a mortgage?

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

How to set yourself up for success in your first job

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

What is an escrow account? Do I have one?

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

Overdrafts happen: Steps to get you back on track

Should you get a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit?

Quiz: How prepared are you to buy a home?

Using 529 plans for K-12 tuition

How to establish your business credit score

How to choose the right custodian for your managed assets

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

5 reasons why couples may have separate bank accounts

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

How and when to ask for a raise

How can I help my student manage money?

5 tips for parents opening a bank account for kids

How to manage money in the military: A veteran weighs in

How to save for a wedding

How to save money while helping the environment

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Money Moments: 3 smart financial strategies when caring for aging parents

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Wedding

Webinar: Uncover the cost: International trip

Your guide to starting a job: Resources to help along the way

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

How I did it: Bought my dream home using equity

Buying a home Q&A: What made three homeowners fall in love with their new home

How I did it: Built living spaces to support my family

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Checklist: 6 to-dos for after a move

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

Are professional movers worth the cost?

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Is a home equity line of credit (HELOC) right for you?

10 uses for a home equity loan

Preparing for homeownership: A guide for LGBTQ+ homebuyers

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to use your home equity to finance home improvements

What to know when buying a home with your significant other

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Buying or renting – What’s right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: What is refinancing, and is it right for you?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Prequalification or pre-approval – What do I need?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: How does your credit score impact the homebuying experience?

Webinar: Mortgage basics: Finding the right home loan for you

Webinar: Mortgage basics: 3 Key steps in the homebuying process

What is refinancing a mortgage?

Home equity: Small ways to improve the value of your home

How to Adult: 5 ways to track your spending

Tips for navigating a medical hardship when you’re unable to work

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

Preparing for adoption and IVF

How to plan and save for adoption and in vitro fertility treatment costs

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

Resources for managing financial matters after an unexpected death

What you need to know as the executor of an estate

What documents do you need after a loved one dies?

How to prepare for a natural disaster

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

Student checklist: Preparing for college

6 questions students should ask about checking accounts

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

How I did it: Paid off student loans

Webinar: Bank Notes: College cost comparison

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Is online banking safe?

Identity stolen? 5 steps to take immediately

8 tips and tricks for creating and remembering your PIN

7 steps to keep your personal and business finances separate

Know your debt-to-income ratio

U.S. Bank asks: What do you know about credit?

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Be careful when taking out student loans

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

Webinar: Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

Webinar: ESG for Corporations: Building an all-weather, long-lasting strategy

Common pitfalls to avoid in the equipment financing process

The secret to successful service provider integration

Consolidating debts: Pros and cons to keep in mind

Questions to ask before buying a car

Can you take advantage of the dead equity in your home?

7 tips to help grow your business after launch

How to test new business ideas

Costs to consider when starting a business

How to redefine challenges with business collaboration

How to sell your business without emotions getting in the way

10 tips on how to run a successful family business

The costs of hiring a new employee

How to expand your business: Does a new location make sense?

Does your side business need a separate bank account?

How to build a content team

Finance or operating lease? Deciphering the legalese of equipment finance

Safeguarding the payment experience through contactless

ABCs of ARP: Answers to American Rescue Plan questions for counties

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

COVID-19 safety recommendations: Are you ready to reopen?

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.