Using Registers to Help Keep an Eye on Finances (With Free Register Download)

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I have this need to always keep a close eye on our financial situation. I would say it’s one of my many obsessive compulsive tendencies.

I keep my own register for every debit and credit card we have. I don’t really trust financial institutions, and I say this with a grain of salt. I’ve had my troubles with them, and honestly if it wasn’t so convenient to use debit and credit cards I would most definitely use cash for everything. That being said, I have saved us from some tough situations by diligently tracking our debit and credit transactions.

How I Keep My Registers:

I have a small 1/2 inch binder that I keep all my registers in. I have a sections for each debit and credit card, along with a register for our savings account.

Each debit account register and savings register have a date, what, amount, balance, pending, and through column. (I didn’t used to have a pending column, until I started noticing that I would mark something off as through in my register when it was pending in my bank account, then later my balance would be off, and somehow the transaction had disappeared from my bank account only to show up a few days later, yeah, like I said before…troubles.)  My credit card registers have a date, what, in, out, and balance column. Link to print or download is located at the bottom of this post.

How I Keep Track of My Transactions:

First off, every time we buy something I get a receipt.  This includes cash purchases.  If I can’t get a receipt I immediately go to the notes in my phone and log the transaction with a date, what was purchased and the amount, (honestly though, sometimes I forget to do this, and it really throws me off at the end of the month.)

Also I keep meticulous track of our bills.  I have a list of every bill we owe in a month. I keep track of how the bills are paid on this list as well. Like if I need to send a check, pay it online, or if it is an auto pay and when it will come out.

How I Log the Transactions:

Every morning I sit down with my binder, my calculator, my bills list, and my phone. (I also have my spend log, but that is another post.)

I take all the receipts from the day before and order them to what was used for the purchase and how my binder is set up. Then I staple them together in that order.

For example: My binder might be set up as Debit Card 1, Debit Card 2, Credit Card, Savings Account. If I used my credit card, debit card 1, and cash for purchases I had made I would order them as debit card 1, credit card, cash because that is the order in which my sections are.

I open my binder to the first section for which I have receipts. I log all of the receipts for that card onto that page, subtract my purchases from my balance, and write my balances in the column.

Next, I write down any bills that need to come out and subtract those from my balances.

How I Reconcile My Registers:

You can do this by logging onto your bank account online. I use an app on my phone.

I open the corresponding app and go to my transactions history.

I mark anything that has gone through and anything that is pending. If it is not there I don’t mark it.

I check to see if any of the transactions I had marked as pending the day before have gone through or if any unexpected transactions occurred. If the latter, I write them in my register. If I don’t recognize the charge I write it down with the date, amount, and what, so I can look into it, and possibly dispute it, later.

Then I check to see if my balances match. If all I have is pending and through transactions it should, but if I have any transactions that I didn’t mark off, it won’t. In this case your register balance should be exactly however much less as the transaction(s).

In Example: If the bank says I have $342.52 and my register says I have $294.85, I should have unmarked transaction(s) that add up to $47.67. If all the numbers add up your register is reconciled. If not, you have a discrepancy. You will need to go back a few days and check to see if anything went through that you were not expecting or forgot to log. If you find something, log it in your register and recheck your balances.

I do this until I’ve completed all sections in my binder for which I have receipts. Cash receipts are for my spend log. I log all of my receipts, including cash and any bills that I had put into my register into my spend log. You can read more about why you should use a spend log and how to use it and set it up here.

As promised you can print/download my register here.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me here. If you found this post useful hit the like button, share on social media, or scroll way down and comment.

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