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Money Management Basics with ClearCheckbook

5/9/2011 in Money Management Tips
This will be the first in a series of blog posts about how you can use ClearCheckbook’s features to help you with money management. In this post we’ll be covering the transaction register and how to get the most out of it.

The ClearCheckbook Transaction Register in its most basic form is just a web-based version of your traditional checkbook register. When you add transactions to the site, they show up in your register sorted by the date of the transaction. If you want to sort the register by any of the other columns, simply click on the column header to sort it. You can also set the register to view a specific account, or an overview of all your accounts combined together.

The real power of ClearCheckbook revolves around marking your transactions as “Jived.” This is our term for transactions that have cleared with your bank statement. To “jive” a transaction, you just click the check mark next to the amount of the transaction that’s cleared with your bank. If done correctly, your “Jived” balance for an account should match exactly what your bank statement says. If these numbers don’t match, then you know there is a discrepancy between your ClearCheckbook account and your bank statement. (As a side note here’s an excellent tutorial put together by one of our members about how to jive your transactions:

You can also easily edit and delete transactions from this page. Editing a transaction is as easy as clicking on it and changing the details of the transaction. To delete one or more transactions, simply click the check box next to the transaction(s) you want to delete, then click the “Delete” button at the top or bottom of the register.

Money management isn’t just about knowing how much money your bank thinks you have, it’s also about knowing how much money you do have. Banks aren’t aware when you write checks and often times stores only send $1.00 pending charges when you pay with a credit or debit card until the transaction fully clears. If you simply trust what your bank says your balance is, you could be greatly overestimating how much money you are actually able to spend.

This is why adding all of your transactions to the register is very important. As soon as you write a check or go buy gas for your car, you enter that transaction into the site. The Overall Balance tells you how much money you actually have in your account. It’s essentially what your bank statement says, plus any outstanding transactions your bank doesn’t know about yet.

Here’s an example of how keeping your transactions up to date in your register could really help you from bouncing a check or overdrawing your account. Lets say you have $500 in your account today. You write a check of $200 for utilities, go buy some gas and groceries and then go see a movie with friends. That could easily add up to another $200 of expenses. Some of those stores, like the gas station, will post a $1 pending transaction to your account instead of the $40 or so it really cost.

Now, a few days later some friends ask if you want to go travel out of town for the weekend. You look at your bank’s website and see you still have a few hundred dollars in your account (because the check hasn’t cleared and those pending transactions don’t reflect the actual cost of the transaction). Now, when go to and get a hotel room or chip in for gas, you could easily dip into a negative balance.

Someone who entered those transactions into their ClearCheckbook register would have known exactly how much money they had to spend (which would have been around $100 instead of $350-$450 their bank might have told them.) They would have been able to make better decisions about what they purchase and prevented themselves from overdrawing their account.

The above example is compounded even more when you throw credit cards into the mix. If you diligently enter your credit card purchases into your transaction register, you’ll know whether or not you can afford to pay your bill off at the end of the month by looking at your overall balance.

Money management isn’t just about setting budgets or putting money into a savings account. It starts by simply knowing where your money is being spent and how much you have at any given time. By taking a few minutes to enter your purchases into ClearCheckbook and knowing how much money you truly have, you can save yourself a lot of money in overdraft fees.

The upcoming posts in this series will cover how to use the transactions from the register to view spending reports, set budgets, pay bills and more all in the effort to give you true power over money management.

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