10 Things to Do If Your Quiucken Account Doesn’t Balance

By Stephen L. Nelson

Following are some suggestions for reconciling an account in Quicken 2015 that’s causing you problems. If you’re sitting in front of your computer wringing your hands, try the following tips.

Make sure that you’re working with the right account

Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? If you have a bunch of bank accounts, however, ending up in the wrong account is pretty darned easy. So go ahead and confirm, for example, that you’re trying to reconcile your checking account at Mammoth International Bank by using the Mammoth International checking account statement.

Look for transactions that the bank has recorded but you haven’t

Go through your bank statement to make sure that you’ve recorded every transaction that your bank has recorded. Cash-machine withdrawals, special fees or service charges (such as for checks or your safety deposit box), automatic withdrawals, direct deposits, and so on are easily overlooked.

If the difference is positive — that is, the bank thinks you have less money than you think you should — you may be missing a withdrawal transaction. If the difference is negative, you may be missing a deposit transaction.

Look for reversed transactions

Here’s a tricky one. If you accidentally enter a transaction backward — enter a deposit as a withdrawal or a withdrawal as a deposit — your account won’t balance, and the error can be difficult to find.

The Reconcile: Checking window shows all the correct transactions, but a transaction amount appears to be positive when it should be negative or negative when it should be positive.

Look for a transaction that’s equal to half the difference

One handy way to find a transaction that you entered backward — if you have only one — is to look for a transaction that’s equal to half the irreconcilable difference. If the difference is $200, for example, you may have entered a $100 deposit as a withdrawal or a $100 withdrawal as a deposit.

The sign (that is, positive or negative) of the difference should help you find the problem. If the difference is positive — the bank thinks you have less money than your register indicates — you may have mistakenly entered a withdrawal as a deposit. If the difference is negative — the bank thinks you have more money than your register says — you may be missing a deposit transaction.

Look for a transaction that’s equal to the difference

If the difference between the bank’s records and yours equals one of the transactions listed in your register, you may have incorrectly marked the transaction as cleared or incorrectly left the transaction marked as uncleared.

Check for transposed numbers

Transposed numbers occur when you flip-flop two digits in a number — enter $45.89 as $48.59, for example.

These turkeys always cause accountants and bookkeepers headaches. If you look at the numbers, detecting an error is often difficult because the digits are the same. When you’re comparing a check amount of $45.89 in your register with a check for $48.59 shown on your bank statement, both check amounts show the same digits: 4, 5, 8, and 9. They just show them in different orders.

Transposed numbers are tough to find, but here’s a trick you can try. Divide the difference shown in the Reconcile: Checking window by nine. If the result is an even number of dollars or cents, you may have a transposed number somewhere.

Have someone else look over your work

This idea may seem pretty obvious. If you’re using Quicken at home, ask your spouse. If you’re using Quicken at work, ask the owner or one of your co-workers (preferably that one person who always seems to have way too much free time).

Look out for multiple errors

By the way, if you find an error by using this laundry list and still can’t balance your account, you should start checking at the top of the list again. You may discover — after you find a transposed number — that you entered another transaction backward, or incorrectly cleared or uncleared a transaction.

Try again next month (and maybe the month after that)

If the difference isn’t huge in relation to the size of your bank account, you may want to wait until next month and attempt to reconcile your account again.

Before this carefree attitude puts you in a panic, consider the following example. You reconcile your account in January, and the difference is $24.02. You reconcile the account in February, and the difference is $24.02. Then you reconcile the account in March, and — surprise, surprise — the difference is still $24.02.

What’s going on here? Well, your starting account balance was probably off by $24.02. (The more months you try to reconcile your account and find that you’re always mysteriously $24.02 off, the more likely it is that this type of error is to blame.)

After the second or third month, it’s pretty reasonable to tell Quicken that it should enter an adjusting transaction for $24.02 so that your account balances. (This is the only circumstance that merits your adjusting an account to match the bank’s figure.)

By the way, if you’ve successfully reconciled your account with Quicken before, your work may not be at fault. The mistake could be (drumroll, please) the bank’s! And in this case, you should do something else. . ..

Get in your car, drive to the bank, and beg for help

As an alternative to the preceding idea, which supposes that the bank’s statement is correct and that your records are incorrect: Ask the folks at the bank to help you reconcile the account. (Check to see whether they charge for this service first, of course.)

Hint that you think that the mistake is probably theirs. Smile a great deal. And one other thing: Be sure to ask about whatever product they’re currently advertising in the lobby. (This behavior encourages them to think that you’re interested in that 180-month certificate of deposit, and they’ll be extra nice to you.)

In general, the bank’s record keeping is usually pretty darned good. Nevertheless, your bank may have made a mistake, so ask the people there to help you. (Note: Be sure to have them explain any transactions that you discover only by seeing them on your bank statement.)