- Step 1: Choose checking or savings Choose whether to open a checking account, savings account, or both. If you’ll be paying bills and making purchases, then you’ll need a checking account.
- Step 2: Study the options Research multiple banks and the accounts they offer until you find one that’s right for you.
- TIP: Many checking and savings accounts pay interest on a monthly basis. Choose one of these if it is available.
- Step 3: Make a deposit Make your first deposit. Your bank may require a minimum amount to open the account or a minimum balance that must be maintained to avoid fees.
- Step 4: Know your fees Know the fees banks often charge for such items as dipping below a minimum balance, writing too many checks, or using another bank’s ATM machine. Don’t be caught off guard by extra charges; avoid them when you can.
- TIP: Overdraft protection, while sometimes costly, can protect you from even more costly fees for bouncing a check.
- Step 5: Maintain privacy Do not share your banking PIN with anyone, or let others use your checkbook.
- Step 6: Balance your checkbook Balance your checkbook on a regular basis. Save receipts, keep track of transactions, and record them into your checking ledger at the end of each day or week.
- TIP: Spend based on your ledger balance and not on your online account balance. If you’ve written a check that hasn’t cleared yet, it won’t be reflected and you might end up spending more than you have.
- Step 7: Always check your statement Make sure you reconcile your checking ledger and your bank statement each month. Sort out any discrepancies by reviewing your purchases or contacting the bank.
- FACT: Did you know? The largest U.S. dollar amount ever issued as paper currency was the $10,000 bill.
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