You don’t need to waste your money purchasing overdraft protection in the event you make a transaction that depletes your checking account balance. Here are four money routines that will definitely keep your checking account in the black.

Pad your checking account by 20%. What I’ve learned from having a period where I bounced several checks within a short period of time was that I was being too precise with the amounts that I left in my checking account.  I was incurring fees because I was short on nominal amounts of money such as $5, $10, or $20. I started to purposely pad my checking account by 20% to ensure that if a bill was higher than expected, I wouldn’t be penalized for it.

Pay in cash.  Part of the reason that we get ourselves into overdrawn and overdraft situations is because we are not keeping accurate accounts of what is being spent and what our balances are. If you withdraw a specific amount of money at the top of the week for you to use, you won’t have this problem. There will be no need to use your checking account.

Use your ledger more often. Even mentioning the word “ledger” can make some people scratch their heads. The checking account ledger, also known as a register, is a thin book that helps you keep an informal record of all deposits and withdrawals from a given checking account.  It is also used to perform bank reconciliation, which is the process of adjusting an account balance reported by a bank to reflect transactions that have occurred since the reporting date.

Create a financial calendar. A financial calendar is a must if you have a problem with keeping your checking account up-to-date. With a financial calendar, you write out what your money is doing each and every day of the month. I highly recommend that you use one color to track inflows such as paychecks, alimony, and rental income. In another color, track the outflows such as mortgage, rent, tuition, and grocery shopping. With your financial life in front of you at a glance, you can begin to see where money flows will be tight and where they will be more fluid. You can move money into your checking account to align with what’s going on with your money throughout the month.

With these routines, you will be able to safeguard your money from overdraft fees, and take back your power and control.

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