Checkbook? Account Register? Bank Statement? Balance My Account? What does all of this mean? 

The 20-something’s of today have probably never heard of any of these terms, much less even used them. In today’s high-tech era, it’s most likely a dying practice. For those that may want to learn how we 40(+)-something’s keep track of our money and spending, here are some basics.

Let’s talk terms first.


This is basically a piece of paper you fill out and give to a person or business that you owe money to. It is like a promissory note – sort of an I.O.U. The check has your account number and bank information at the bottom so that when it is deposited other banks know where to send it to collect the money from you.

Account Register

This is a booklet where you write down all of the checks or debit card transactions you’ve made. You also write down deposits in this register.

Bank Statement

This is a monthly recap of all of the activity your bank account had during a specific time period. The bank can send this to you once per month either via U.S. Mail or electronically.

Balance My Account

This means comparing what you have written down in your account register to the transactions your bank is reporting on your bank statement.

Bonus Terms:

  • Debit – Money you spend that has come out of your bank account (checks, debit card purchases, ATM withdrawals, automatic bill payments, etc.)
  • Credit – Money that was put into your bank account (deposits, direct deposits, etc.)
  • Overdraw/Overdrawn – This means you have spent more money than you have. This also means the bank may charge you fees for each item that presents on an overdrawn account. Sometimes these fees can reach upwards of $35 to $40 per item.
  • Return Check – This is an item that presented on your account, but there was not enough money to pay the check so the bank returned it to the person you gave it to. Now you could pay a fee at your bank AND the place you wrote the check to.  Plus, you still owe that place/person the original funds you attempted to pay them. Excessive return checks could not only damage your credit, but could also cause criminal charges to be filed.

So you have a bank account, you deposit money, you spend money. You check your bank account online or on your phone once or twice a week to make sure there’s money there. So far, so good.

Why is it important to also balance my bank account?

  • You want to make sure you don’t spend more money than you have so you don’t overdraw your account and get charged fees.
  • You want to make sure the bank is not reporting a transaction on your statement that you did not make.
  • You want to make sure that all of the deposits you have made are indeed posted on your bank account.
  • It is important to keep a clean history on your account to build good credit. Good credit will help you reach bigger and long term financial goals.

If you use checks, you’ll definitely want to learn how to balance your checkbook.

It’s very important to make an effort to understand how to manage your money to be a responsible, credit-worthy adult. These few basics will set you on a path for success. I have a teenager that balances his checkbook, and he’s still in high school. It’s never too early – or too late – to start!

Are you interested in a career in accounting, economics, or finance? The McLane College of Business provides high quality, innovative, and accessible business education with a distinctive commitment to business as calling, preparing graduates for purposeful service and leadership. For more information, we invite you to visit our website, or stop by for a visit!