It was a few weeks after our financial crisis that my Mom called Liberty University. She’d been taking Bible courses by correspondence, but because of our financial difficulty, we could no longer afford them. As she was explaining our situation, the woman on the other end of the phone commented that she and her husband went years without balancing their checkbook. When they finally got around to it, they found out they had more money than they thought they had.
Unfortunately, most people who don’t balance their checkbook aren’t as fortunate as this couple. For instance, when my Dad didn’t balance our checkbook, he ended up bouncing checks and paying exorbitant overdraft fees.
This is the more common scenario. In fact, in 2011, Americans paid over $31.6 BILLION dollars in overdraft fees. How much of that came from Christian families?
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: Balance your checkbook.
Where do you begin? With today.
Most banks have free resources either online or on the telephone that will tell you your current balance. This is the best place to start. Start a new checkbook recorder and make this your starting balance.
Next, use these resources to see if there are any outstanding checks (these are checks that you know you’ve written, but haven’t cashed yet). If so, subtract the amount of the uncleared checks from your current balance.
Then, look for any outstanding deposits or merchandise returns that you’ve already made that haven’t credited yet.
Then add the amount of any deposits that haven’t yet been credited. This is the current balance in your checking account.
The good news is that most banking transactions happen pretty quickly these days thanks to electronic banking, so it won’t take long for any outstanding checks or deposits to be processed into your account. If you check with your bank either online or by telephone every day until your balance matches their balance, your check book will soon be balanced.
Let's take a look at those steps again:
Now the key is keeping it balanced!
This is really easy---it just takes a little discipline.
Every time you write a check, swipe your bank card, or withdraw money from your checking account, YOU NEED TO RECORD IT IN YOUR CHECKBOOK!
It only takes 5 minutes a day to record your purchases, and keep your checkbook balanced. Keeping your checkbook balanced will help you stay in reality about how much money is in your checkbook, and clear away some of the chaos in your financial life.
If it saves you the cost of an overdraft fee---it’s 5 minutes well spent. Where else are you going to earn $30-$60 for 5 minutes work? Every dollar you’re not paying the bank in overdraft fees is a dollar you’re keeping in your family budget to spend on family needs.
Most importantly, when you keep your checkbook balanced, you’re being a wise steward of the money God has given you. So boldly go where no one has gone for a very long time---Dare to balance your checkbook and obey God’s stewardship principles!