Banking Checking Accounts Where To Find Free Check Registers and How To Use Them Free Check Register Templates and Instructions By Justin Pritchard Justin Pritchard Facebook Twitter Website Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor and an expert on personal finance. He covers banking, loans, investing, mortgages, and more for The Balance. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado, and has worked for credit unions and large financial firms, in addition to writing about personal finance for more than two decades. learn about our editorial policies Updated on April 5, 2022 Reviewed by Michael J Boyle Reviewed by Michael J Boyle Michael Boyle is an experienced financial professional with more than 10 years working with financial planning, derivatives, equities, fixed income, project management, and analytics. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Aaron Johnson Fact checked by Aaron Johnson Aaron Johnson is a researcher and qualitative data/media analyst with over five years of experience obtaining, parsing, and communicating data to various audiences. He received a Master of Science in Social Anthropology from The University of Edinburgh, one of the top-20 universities in the world, where he focused on the study of emerging media. learn about our editorial policies In This Article View All In This Article What Is a Check Register? How To Obtain a Check Register Print or Create Your Own Register Why Use a Check Register? When To Use Your Check Register Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images A check register helps you keep a personal record of your checking account. This allows you to see and continually update your account balance, any withdrawals from or deposits to your account, and transactions that have not yet hit your account. Even if you trust your bank, it’s wise to keep your own records, because you might be better informed than your bank about upcoming transactions. Key Takeaways A check register can take many forms, but it is always a ledger used to record your bank transactions manually. You may receive a check register when you open a checking account, but you can also find one online, download an app, or create your own.The primary purpose of using a check register is to track your account balance, including transactions that might not have posted yet. Using a check register consistently can help you monitor spending, avoid overdraft fees, and catch bank errors. What Is a Check Register? A check register is a list of transactions in your bank account, along with a running balance that tells you how much money you have available to spend. You can use paper, apps, or spreadsheets to keep these records. As you spend money or add funds to your account, you update the list. It's also best to compare your register with your bank records periodically. Check registers usually accompany every order of checks and typically have several columns or fields that allow you to track your transactions and balances. Check registers can also be electronic or homemade, which allows you to customize your system and track your account without buying new registers. How To Obtain a Check Register If you didn’t receive a check register with your checkbooks and would like one, you have several options, some of which are free: Download a free template for Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.Order a new register from an online check printer or your bank.Buy a register from an office supply store.Grab a check register from the back of an old checkbook.Build a simple register in your favorite design or spreadsheet tool. Print or Create Your Own Check Register Paper checkbook registers have worked for years, and some people prefer to record this information by hand. You can also print a basic register that is available online. Note Designing your own register on paper or a spreadsheet is fairly easy and can be customized to fit your needs such as size, format, and column heads. To make a check register, create a document with the following columns across the top: Checkbox: Check items that have cleared your bank Check number or category: Record of check numbers Date: Date of a transaction Description: Helpful notes about a transaction Payment/Debit (-): Payments, fees, and withdrawals Deposit/Credit (+): Deposits and interest Balance: Current account balance after a transaction Why Use a Check Register? A check register helps you stay on top of transactions in your account. Even if you check your account balance online, your available balance might give you misleading information. Banks sometimes make mistakes, and you also might occasionally forget about transactions. Your check register will help you: Identify bank mistakes: These are rarely in your favor and should be reported as soon as possible.Catch identity theft: If you see something you didn’t expect, report it as quickly as possible to get full protection under U.S. law.Avoid bounced checks: These are expensive and create a ripple effect on your finances.Know how much you can afford to spend: You'll know whether you need to transfer money to your checking account to cover expenses. For example, you can avoid overdraft fees by moving funds from your savings account to cover upcoming expenses.Know what you've paid off: Keep track of all your paid debts, the amounts, and the dates in case you need proof of payment.See spending trends: Entering your spending manually forces you to pay attention to what you are spending and make changes if needed. Note Online account information can be misleading if you've forgotten about outstanding checks or automatic withdrawals. A check register helps you know how much money you really have to spend. When To Use Your Check Register It is important to be diligent about updating your check register with each transaction so it serves as a reliable source of your financial activity. When you write a check or use your debit card, you should record the transaction in your check register immediately. Note At the very least, save your ATM and debit card receipts and enter those transactions weekly. The more problems you’re having with insufficient funds, the more often you need to update your check register. You should also compare your check register to recent bank statements to look for any discrepancies. Also, bank statements show items that may not yet be in your check register, including: Fees you paid the bank Interest payments from the bank Automatic/ACH transactions, such as direct deposit of your paycheck or bills that get paid automatically from your bank account Check registers help you to keep track of all your transactions to avoid penalties such as overdraft or late fees. They can serve as an accurate record of your financial situation to help you manage your money more efficiently. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How do you fill out a check register? To begin filling out your check register, record your current balance in the top of the right hand column. Record all checks, debits, credits, and deposits in the register. For each transaction, list the check or transaction number, date, description, and debit or credit amount. Add credits and subtract debits, updating your balance on each transaction line. Mark transactions with a check when they clear your bank account. Where can I buy a check register? You can buy blank, generic check registers from a range of in-person and online retailers, including office supply stores, Walmart, and Amazon. You can also order them from the company that refills your checks. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Capital One. "Balance Your Checkbook Today for a Better Tomorrow." Oklahoma State Department of Education. "Tracking Your Money," Pages 4-5. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "How Can My Account Be Overdrawn When I Just Made a Deposit?" Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Do I Get My Money Back After I Discovered an Unauthorized Transaction or Money Missing From My Bank Account?" Community 1st Credit Union. "Know Your Checking Account," Page 1. St. Paul Youth Resources. "Understanding Your Bank Statement," Page 1.