One thing that people do not seem to do much of anymore is write a check, however there are some situations that they are requested or necessary. This will become especially apparent when your kids begin school. PTA fundraisers & sports programs often charge a fee to use credit or debit cards for payment. It is only a few bucks, but you will find they add up quickly. It is better to just have a checkbook on hand to save money.
So now that you have a checkbook, how do you avoid common pitfalls that new check writers make? By knowing what they are and avoiding them.
Common Check Writing Mistakes
- Incorrect writing utensil – Checks should not be written in pencil, marker or red ink. Always use a black or blue pen.
- Leaving “pay to” line blank -NEVER leave this line blank when filling out a check! If that check is lost after being signed, anyone can write in their name and cash the check for whatever amount is written in on it.
- Check the date – Make sure you have the correct date on the check. Every January, thousands of checks are sacrificed and voided when people write in the previous year on the date line.
- Matching Totals – Ensure that your check amount matches numerically and when written out on the “pay to the order of” line.
- Memos are Important – Always write the reason for the check on the “memo” line. Not everyone does this, however it makes tracking expenses much easier, especially for taxes. It also serves as “proof” of the reason the check was written. That can assist you in future if receipt of payment is ever disputed by the receiver.
- A common scenario is when writing a check to your landlord, it’s a good idea to add a note on the memo line stating something like “Mar.’19 rent – above address”. Should you ever find yourself in a landlord/tenant dispute I assure you that you will be eternally grateful that data was written there.
- Most importantly – DO NOT FORGET THAT YOU WROTE THE CHECK. That money is going to come out of your account, and you do not want to become overdrawn and begin to accrue fines and bounced check fees. Think of a check as a very slow ATM transaction. It takes about 3 to 7 days for a check to clear the bank and reflect on your account.
- Always be sure that you have enough money in your account to cover the amount you are writing it for and do NOT float checks – it is a crime.
- What is floating checks? Let’s say you have $100 in your bank account but you need to write a check for $125. It’s Wednesday, but you know that you are getting paid on Friday. Should you just write that check and hand it over? The answer is NO. That is floating. If you know the funds are not there until Friday, then you should not write that check. Sometimes people will suggest you post-date the check, however that is not legal in all states so you are best off simply holding off until Friday.
If you have never written a check and would like step by step instructions, please click HERE.