By following these simple tips, you can more effectively manage your checking account.
- Know your account balance. If you regularly balance your checkbook, you will be less likely to write a check for more money that you have available in your account. When balancing your checkbook, in addition to the checks you have written, be sure to subtract all debit and ATM transactions as well as any associated fees.
- Get in the habit of reviewing your monthly bank statement every month. It only takes a minute, and a minute spent comparing your statement against your check register can save you days of trying to track down mistakes, missed entries, etc.
- Use the telephone, Internet or ATM to get the most current information about your account. Typically this information is updated each business day. However, be aware that your bank may charge a fee for this service.
- Ask your bank about their fees so that you are not surprised when you get your statements. Also, find out how your bank processes checks. Some banks process the largest checks first. If your first check bounces, all checks processed that day may bounce, each with its own charge.
- Do not float checks. The float is that time delay between when a check is deposited or written and when the money becomes available or is withdrawn from your account. With the increased use of electronic check processing, float time has been significantly reduced or in some cases eliminated. In any event, be sure to wait until funds are available before writing checks.
- Ask your financial institution about overdraft protection. No matter how good your intentions, there can be times when you write a check for more than you have in your account. Financial institutions offer various forms of overdraft protection and taking advantage of this service may prevent embarrassment or additional fees.