This seems so obvious – to the point of not even worth mentioning. But it’s amazing how many of us fail to look at our statements every month, or to look at them thoroughly. Besides balancing your account – in other words, reconciling your posted balance against outstanding drafts or checks that have not been presented for payment – you need to examine your account thoroughly every month to make sure there isn’t something there that is out of place. Did the restaurant you went to a couple of months ago record a five dollar tip or a $25 tip? Did the shoe store who took your catalog purchase back really process the credit to your account like they were supposed to? Are there fees or debits that you can’t seem to account for? These are just some of the issues you’ll want to bear in mind as you’re studying your statement.
Even if you have the most basic of checking account products, your bank should demonstrate an interest in helping you manage it successfully. (And if they don’t, shop around for another bank.) Ask a banking customer service representative what tools, consumer education, and resources your bank provides or recommends to help their customers manage their finances properly. You may be surprised to learn that your bank offers website articles, free online or in person classes, apps, or even just free friendly advice that can help you run your checking account and your overall for personal finances with great efficiency.
If your checking account agreement assesses additional fees for transactions that exceed a certain number, or for minimum balances that drop below prescribed amount, it’s important to take those restrictions seriously. Blowing them off here and there may not seem like a big deal at the time, but over the course of a few years it’s easy for those extra fees to pile up.