When you pay in cash, the deal is done as soon as the money changes hands. Many other transactions today, however, are more complex: between checks, debit cards and online money transfers, you may have hundreds of dollars coming into or out of your financial account. If the bank has received the data but hasn't processed it, the transaction is said to be "pending."
Different banks handle pending transactions differently. Some include pending transactions in your account balance, others don't. If you have, say, a $250 pending transaction that doesn't show up in your balance yet, you really have $250 less to spend than your balance statement says. When you deposit money, there are laws with regard to how long the bank can take to process the transaction. That ensures added cash won't be pending for too long before you can get the money.
A Durham, NC resident, Fraser has written about law, starting a business, balancing your budget and fighting evictions, among other legal and financial topics.