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The Balancing Act
Part 1: Keep Good Records

Part 1 in a two-part series on balancing your checkbook

Part I: Keep good records

I manage my online and still balance my checkbook with a pencil!
It's time to balance your account!

Congratulations! You've taken a first step to financial independence and responsibility by opening a checking or debit account.

The second step comes quickly on the heels of the first—with the arrival of your first statement from your credit union. Now you have to balance your account!

You're pretty sure your have enough in the account, so why all the fuss about balancing it?

Two reasons: balancing your account saves you money, and protects your credit rating.

Balancing save you money

One very good reason to balance your checking/debit account every month is to protect you from spending money you don't really have in your account.

Your debit card won't let you take out money you don't have, but nothing stops you from writing checks on money you don't have. If you bounce one or more checks, it'll probably cost you over $45/check in service fees.

Bouncing a check is a common phrase that describes what happens if you write a check for more money than you have in your account—it's "bounced" back to you to make it good.

Denny forgot to record a check. Here's what happened.

A bounced check can cost you a lot of money, both in fees from your credit union and from the store you wrote the check to. The credit union automatically deducts the charges on your bounced check from your account. If you don't balance your checking account, you won't know.

There are other ways charges can be on your account without your knowing about them. People make mistakes, and so do financial institutions. Usually, it's the account holder who errs, but on occasion credit unions also make mistakes.

The only way to catch any errors is to keep good records and regularly balance your account.

If you fail to balance your checking account and bounce checks repeatedly, it'll cost you a lot more than money...

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What makes credit unions so great? Members like you.

Every dollar you invest in your credit union earns you money while other members borrow it.

When you're ready for a loan, other members' savings will be there to help you out at the lowest possible cost.
NCUA