Reconciling a bank statement with a paper check register is tedious and error-prone. Besides checking off items on two different paper documents, the check register and the bank statement never seem to agree—primarily due to arithmetic mistakes you make. With QuickBooks, you can leave your pencils unsharpened and stow your calculator in a drawer.
When all goes well, you can reconcile your account with a few mouse clicks, as you'll learn on page 340. Discrepancies crop up less often because QuickBooks does math without mistakes. But problems occasionally occur—transactions might be missing or numbers won't match. When your bank statement and QuickBooks account don't agree, QuickBooks helps you find the problems.
The first reconciliation for a bank account is often the hardest, because the beginning balance for an account in QuickBooks rarely equals the beginning balance on your bank statement. Short of some extraordinary luck, these two beginning balances typically match only when you start a business and start using QuickBooks at the same time. For example, if you start using QuickBooks on January 1, you might use the online balance as of that date to fill in the account's opening balance in QuickBooks (page 40). But your bank statements adhere to their own schedule, so your last statement might have a closing date of December 20. The transactions that occur between the 20th and the 1st generate the difference.