A checkbook generally consists of a supply of preprinted banking checks, a registry for recording payments and deposits, several deposit slips for incoming checks and currency, and a protective sleeve with a pocket for receipts. Many people carry a checkbook inside a purse or in addition to a wallet in their pockets. Because a checkbook often contains sensitive banking information, most people keep a very close eye on it while in public. The loss of blank checks can be a very costly mistake unless reported to the bank immediately.
Whenever a banking customer opens a new checking account, the bank representative will often issue a small book of generic 'starter checks' which must be completely filled out by the customer during each transaction. A rudimentary registry for keeping track of check amounts may also be included in this initial checkbook packet. Once a customer has reached the end of the supply of starter checks, additional packets of preprinted checks may be ordered through the bank itself or other professional check printing companies.
Many people select checkbook designs which reflect their individual personalities or affiliations. The checks themselves must contain some standard information such as an account number, name of the banking institution, routing number for computerized deposits and the customer's contact information. A checkbook only holds one set of checks at a time, but customers often order in bulk. Because the checks are numbered sequentially, it becomes important to maintain the continuity whenever a checkbook is replaced.
A checkbook registry allows users to keep a running account of incoming and outgoing deposits and checks, but periodically these amounts need to be verified against the bank's own records. Monthly statements issued by the bank can be used to determine which checks have been processed and which checks or deposits may still be unrecorded. This information may also be available over the phone or through a secure online account. Making sure the registry balance matches the objective information provided by the bank is called 'balancing a checkbook'. Accurate checkbook information can be vital if an outstanding check amount would be higher than the available balance in the account. Checks returned for insufficient funds can create numerous additional charges from both the bank and the holder of the check.
Maintaining a checkbook properly is an important habit to develop early in life. Parents of working teenagers should demonstrate how to balance or reconcile a checkbook and also stress the dangers of writing worthless checks.