Assuming the "template" suggestion isn't to your liking...
When you say your "db synapses just won't work" are you referring to something specific that is failing, or is that just a figure of speech indicating that you're having a hard time wrapping your brain around how to get started?
Assuming the latter,
In general I would suggest the following...
You said you have an Excel spreadsheet that you've been using.
Assuming it's set up in the normal way, with each column being a different field, and each row being a line item (like a check or an expense)...
The easiest way to get this started would be to "Import" the excel file into Access. Make sure the columns are labeled first, then jsut import the whole excel file. This will create an access table that you can then use as the basis for your database.
Depending how much you know about Access, you can get very complicated with this.
Once you have the basic table, there are Database analysis tools in the menus that will break it up into several smaller tables, but unless you are conversant with programming for database structures I would recommend NOT using those tools.
Instead, just create "Querys" to sort data matching certain criteria - you could have one for all checks, or for any negative entries, etc.
And you can enter new items directly into the bottom of the table, or if you wantto get fancy, you can create a "Form" to enter new items (and to view old ones), which could automatically calculate certain fields. But that's starting to get complicated, so it depends how much time you've got to spend on it.