Are checks becoming obsolete? From my personal experience, there are only four people/businesses that I had to put pen to checkbook for in 2022. This doesn’t mean I don’t write checks or need to deposit checks. It’s just the fact that money is not being physically exchanged and as a society we must adapt to electronic money transfers and cashless point of sales ever more.
My most recent eye-opening experience was when my 14-year-old son ripped a check out of my checkbook because he thought the kitten picture was cool. He had no idea that piece of paper had financial importance, and it made me think, How I am going to teach him about financial literacy?
My mom would balance her checkbook at the kitchen table, and I remember wanting to shadow her and “balance” my checkbook too, but my son doesn’t have that opportunity because our banking is done electronically on our bank’s website or app.
I have come to rely on my bank’s online bill pay. I like the convenience of scheduling automatic payments and the security of payments being sent directly from my bank’s website rather than having my financial information on multiple websites. Plus, it is environmentally friendly and it saves me from buying stamps.
Online bill pay allows consumers the option to make an electronic one-time or recurring bill payment through their bank’s website or app. Like a paper checkbook, you still need to track your account balance so not to risk overdrawing your account, closely monitor for fraudulent activity and confirm checks have been received and cashed. (I just realized a bill payment I had sent wasn’t cashed within the allotted 90 days and the funds were returned to my account!) Also, keep in mind online checks take longer to process and it is prudent to schedule payments at least 5 days before bill is due.
Cashing checks has also taken on a new look with online banking websites and apps. Now that you can electronically deposit checks and can transfer money between friends and family using Zelle, Venmo or other cash apps there has been no reason for me to go to the bank or ATM. That is until I became the treasurer for my sons’ scout troop and I had to remind myself how to endorse checks, bring my ATM card with me and recall my pin number!
It’s no wonder my 14-year-old didn’t know that piece of paper with the kittens was a check since the last time he received a check was for his First Communion in 2016. I can’t fault him but it is my job to teach him financial literacy. So whenever possible, I leave cash for tips, point out the cost of entertainment and leave price tags on the things we buy. I don’t want him to fall into a false sense of security that everything is paid for with plastic (with a mindful explanation that if you do use credit, you must have the money to pay for it!)