Keeping a check register is a must in today's society. An accurate register can save you time and money just by knowing what you have available to spend and making sure you don't go over your limit and get charged a fee. One nice aspect of your home computer is that programs like Excel are easily configured to become check registers, saving you money on expensive spreadsheet programs such as Quicken or Money. It takes only minutes to establish, and once your register is set up, you can begin logging in your information as often as you need to.
Label columns A through G in the first row, as follows: cleared, date, check #, item description, debit, credit and balance. Highlight columns E, F and G (debit, credit and balance) and right-click to "Format cells..." and adjust these columns to represent currency. Column B can be adjusted for date format in the same manner.
Extend the width of these columns as far as you need by clicking on the right edge of the column and dragging toward the right. For example, the "item description" column will need to be much longer than the "cleared" column.
Key in your first entry as "starting balance," including the date, and enter the balance your check register begins with.
Enter in the box below the balance you just entered in Step 3 the following formula: =G2-E3+F3. Hit "Enter." That field should now read the same as the balance you keyed in above it.
Click on the box you just entered your formula into, and you will see that it is highlighted with a small square at the bottom right-hand corner. Click and hold the small square, dragging the formula down to as many rows as you desire.
Take note that all of the balance fields now contain the same amount; however, as you enter in your checking account information, the balance will adjust for you, giving you the new total.
Mark an "X" in the "cleared" column on any items you know have cleared your bank to balance your check register. Take your most recent bank statement total and add any un-Xed outstanding deposits and subtract any un-Xed outstanding debits. The balance you show on your spreadsheet should equal this calculation.
Enter new items in your Excel check register regularly to maintain an accurate balance. Highlight the different columns with different color shadings if it helps ease working on your check register. You can also choose to highlight specific spaces based on what types of expenses they are.
Be sure to save your document in a backup file in case something happens to your computer, but never keep documents with your full account numbers.
- Margaret Telsch-Williams