Managing Your Checking Account
After you open your account, it’s important to keep track of your money. Today there are more ways than ever to monitor your account and avoid unnecessary fees.
If you have checks with your account, the package will include a checkbook register. If you don’t have checks, you can request one from your banker. There are also checkbook register programs and apps if you’d prefer. Recording the money you spend (debits) and money you deposit (credits) helps you see where your money goes and ensures you won’t overdraw your account.
Automate Your Account
e-Services allow you to easily manage your accounts. Sitting up direct deposit with your employer means your paycheck is electronically put into your account. You can even set up an automatic savings plan by directing part of your paycheck to a savings account and the rest to checking. (“Pay Yourself First.”)
Billpay services available through internet banking and mobile banking apps make paying your bills easy. Once your billers are set up, you can pay what you want, when you want. No worries about stamps, lost bills, or late fees. You can also set up automatic payments (ACH payments) that transfers money each month on the same date. This is especially useful for items like car payments or mortgages that are due on the same day and for the same amount each month.
If you don’t use e-Services, it’s important to check your statement every month. Your statement shows all of your debits and credits, and shows your account balance. This is your first line of defense to track fraudulent transactions, and to keep track of the amount of money you have.
Avoid Unnecessary Fees
No matter how much money you have, no one wants to spend money on fees that can be avoided. Some checking accounts come with a monthly fee, though there are many that don’t. It’s important to know which type of account you have, and what the monthly service fee is. Some accounts also charge a fee if you don’t maintain a minimum balance in your account. Again, know the “fine print” associated with your account so you can avoid as many fees as possible.
One of the largest fees is charged if you overdraw your account. This means that you’ve spent more money than you have in your account. (Another reason why monitoring your account is important.) Talk to your banker to see if you want to “opt in” to overdraft protection that will cover debit card charges that might overdraft your account. If you do overdraw your account, don’t freak out – it's more common than you think. Contact the bank to find out what your next steps should be.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to find a way to monitor your account that works for you. Watching your checking account – which is just tracking where your money goes – can help you put together a budget, identify where you can save money, and avoid unnecessary costs. If you have any questions, you should feel free to talk to your personal banker, or contact us. (No strings attached.)