A bankcard can be an excellent financial management tool, provided two conditions are met: [1] the balance is paid off in full at the end of every month and [2] all spending complies with your written budget.

Many bankcard holders, though, get surprised from time to time at the end of the month by the size of their bankcard bills.

Here's an easy, free solution to that problem. When you charge something, immediately deduct it from your checking balance and the proper budget account. This method helps you to stay within your budget and to eliminate any end-of-the-month surprise.

Then, when your bankcard bill arrives, write one check for the entire amount. That single check number will be assigned to all related deductions in your check register.

Voila, no surprises, no balance, no interest payment.

For more money-saving ideas visit No-Debt Living, www.nodebtnews.com, where you can view more than 100 valuable articles and resources on financial, consumer and time-management news with a Christian perspective. Robert Frank is editor of No-Debt Living. Reprinted with permission from No-Debt Living. Copyright 2000 No-Debt Living.

Need a tool for creating next year's budget? Larry Burkett's Online Budget Guide can help.