In a world where debit cards and paying online are becoming the increasing norm, checks are slowly becoming a thing of the past. So why learn how to write a check? It is becoming out of date and probably will not be used much longer anyway. That is how most schools feel now-a-days. However, checks are not out of date yet. Life will still throw you curve balls where you need them.
When I began renting an apartment for the first time they, like many apartment complexes, only accepted checks. I was young then and had young roommates fresh out of high school. We came to the shocking revelation that no one in the house had checks, nor knew how to write them.
I called my parents and they were appalled that no one knew how to write a check. It was something they had been taught in school and used frequently. Those days are long behind us, but should they be? People still need to know how to use checks, so here is a quick guide with pictures.
There are six sections of a check you have to fill out, they are:
The check above is the example of a check for a business, but it is the same as a normal check. Where it says "your company name" it will say your name and address. Your check will also have the name of your bank on it as well.
The portions of the check you will have to fill out are:
- Company you are paying money to
- Amount you are paying in numbers
- Amount you are paying in words
- What the check is for
- Your signature
What are those numbers on the bottom of the check for? That is a question i hear a whole bunch. When i was editing these checks in Photoshop, I did not think to label them. However in order they are the routing number, account number, and check number.
You will need to know the routing and account number if you are setting up direct deposit for a job. The routing number is the bank the check belongs to. You can also look this up online. Just google the routing number for your bank and state.
The account number is specific to you. This is your bank account number. The check number is self explanitory, it is the number of the check from your checkbook.
There is no wrong way to write the date on your check as long as you include the day, month, and year on it. You can write the date out in words, abriviations, or even in the European style with the day first and the month second.
2. Company you are paying money to
'Pay to the order of' is essentially asking you 'who are you paying money to?' Make sure that if you are paying, for example, your electric bill or rent, you get the name of the company right. Some apartment complexes are owned by different businesses, so you might have to inquire on who checks should be addressed to. Though it also should say in your lease agreement. If you are writing it to a person, be sure to write their first and last name.
3. Amount you are paying in numbers
This is the easy bit, this is where you write out how much it is for. Always double check to make sure the decimal is in the proper place. Especially if you are writing a check for say $1,000.00 dollars. If you use a comma for those large numbers, make sure it is defined and not to be confused with a decimal point.
Some checks have dollar signs printed on them, some do not. If it already has a dollar sign printed on it, you do not need to write one in.
4. Amount you are paying in words
This is where a lot of people get real tripped up. At some point in schools all kids learn how to write out numbers. However, in American school systems that is focused on in one grade in elementary school and then never really revisited. When those elementary school kids grow up they have mostly forgotten what they have learned. Simple numbers are easy, but one you get into the thousand a whole lot of people get mixed up. Though luckily writing the numbers out is made easy by being allowed to use a fraction for the cents.
Tip: If you have room at the end of this line, draw a line all the way to the 'Dollars' printed on there. This prevents people from adding on extra money.
5. What the check is for
This is simple, this section is where you write what the check was for. Some businesses require you to write the invoice number or your account number on it just so they can file the checks better. However, mostly this is for your personal information. Many banks will returned scanned images of checks you wrote on your bank statement. This helps you better keep track of what you were writing those checks for.
This is especially handy if you use your checkbook more than your debit card or share your checkbook with a spouse.
6. Your signature
Lastly, it is time for you to sign your check. Your check is not valid until it bears your signature. Try to sign it with a signiture as well, printing your name is too easy to replicate. Never, ever sign a check until you have filled out the other fields completely.
It may be tempting to just sign all those checks before hand just so you do not forget. However, this is a huge no-no. If anyone got their hands on those, they would be able to fill in the other areas and take every last dime of your money.
Now with that last section complte, you are now armed with old school knowledge. I can remember a time where all my parents used were checks, but these days I hardly ever see them use them. I don't see people use them in line at the store, I don't see people use them at resturaunts. These little pieces of money paper may be going out of style, however they come in handy when you need to pay a bill that doesn't come with an online option or you have to pay back a friend.