Occasionally it happens. We get caught up in life, the weeks slide by, and suddenly you realize that it’s time to reconcile your checking account. When I opened my personal finance software the other day to reconcile what’s on my computer to my bank statement, I got a shock: It had been three months since I last reconciled my account.
All of my credit card accounts were up to date; I’d even reconciled my business account and my savings accounts. But, for some reason, my checking account slipped through the cracks. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened. Now, it wasn’t a huge deal, since I am quite scrupulous about keeping track of my income and expenses in my personal finance software, and overdraft is not normally something that happens to me. At the end of each day, I enter in the receipts from shopping trips and make sure that any checks I write are accounted for. It required me to go back and look at three months’ worth of statements and reconcile them, but the process is made fairly easy by the computer software.
Reconciling your account is important. Your bank statement is the official record of what’s going on with your account, and you want to make sure it matches up. Check for duplicate charges (has happened to me on three occasions), bank errors (once), and fraudulent charges. And, because you should usually have only 30 to 60 days (sometimes less) to rectify problems in case of fraud, it is important to reconcile your account statement to your own records every month.
The best way to stay on top of your financial situation is to keep track of your spending in some sort of personal finance software or a ledger, and then to reconcile your records with what the bank provides at the end of each statement period. Hopefully, this situation won’t repeat itself for me.