A check ledger is a small record book designed to be kept with the checkbook, in which all different checking transactions can be recorded immediately. Though many people do their banking online now, keeping a check ledger is still very common because it is an easy way to see the amount of money in the checking account at a glance, and is also easy to check over for mistakes when the bank statement comes every month. Ledgers will typically come with most check orders, or they can be ordered online. Another option is to simply print them, as there are a number of templates available for free online as well.
Similar in appearance to a small spreadsheet, a check ledger includes a number of different columns and rows. Typically, the vertical columns begin with one to write the check number or the transaction code, such as "ATM" for an ATM withdrawal. The next column is intended for the date, and the widest column is designed to write the recipient of the check, or the purpose of a deposit or withdrawal. The three remaining columns list deposits, withdrawals, and totals. Keeping the deposits and withdrawals in different columns makes it easier to visually understand just by glancing at it.
The reason a check ledger is carried with the checkbook is to ensure that all transactions are written down. This can help to prevent overdrawing the account or bouncing a check. In addition to writing down all the checks, it is important to make note of ATM withdrawals, interest deposits or bank fees, and regular deposits such as automated payroll deposits from the workplace. Individuals who have set up their bills to automatically withdraw funds from the checking account should be sure to write these down every month in the check ledger as well.
At the end of the month, the check ledger is then compared with the bank statement to make sure everything matches up. The amounts of each of the transactions should be the same, as well as the final balance when all transactions are taken into account. Most people choose to balance their check ledgers once a month so they can correct any mistakes with the bank before they become a problem; waiting any longer can make it more difficult to resolve any issues. Businesses or individuals who write a large amount of checks might need to balance the checkbook even more frequently.