Category Archives: Checks

Changing Your Routine

Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2015 – Sweet Doll Designs

I am not a huge fan of change.  I’ll wager a guess that most people share my sentiments.  But, as they say, the only constant in life is change…so I guess we’ll have to get used to it!

As I mentioned in a recent post, I had to find a new job a few months ago.  The process was scary, exhausting, exciting, and ultimately, rewarding since I love my new job!  One thing that I didn’t consider until after my first full month of working at my new job was that I’d also have to change my routine when it came to paying my bills.

For nearly 10 years, I was used to receiving my paycheck on the 10th and the 26th of the month.  At my new job, I get paid on the 15th and the 30th/31st of the month.  At first, this may seem like no big deal.  However, I took a while to think about how to organize my bill paying routine going forward so that I could make sure I was paying my bills on time each month.

In the past, I paid bills on the 10th and the 26th.  That seemed to work out with the due dates of my bills.  Even though I get paid about 5 days later than I used to, the new schedule really doesn’t jive with my bill due dates.  From what I could tell, I had three options:

  1. Stop paying bills – who needs them, anyway?!
  2. Call my providers and request new due dates for my bills
  3. Change my well-established bill paying routine and – gasp – come up with a new one!

We’d all love the first option, but being realistic, I struck that one off my list.  While the second option was a valid one, it felt like too much work.  That left me with option #3 and I thought I could be brave and make a change, and that’s just what I did.

Now I sit down at the beginning of the month and write all my checks and schedule all my bill payments.  I know how much money to expect will arrive in each paycheck and by the beginning of the month, I know how much I will spend on bills and savings that month.  I can also be sure that I leave enough money in my checking account to pay the rent due on the 1st of the following month.  If I’ve written a check, I will put a reminder in my phone calendar to mail the check on a certain date so that it will arrive at the provider by the due date.

So far, organizing my bill paying at the beginning of each month is working out well for me.  It gives me a feeling of control over my finances and peace of mind that I won’t miss any due dates.

Have you come across an instance where you’ve had to make an unanticipated change with organizing your finances?  Post in the comments below!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today: The current design of the penny with Lincoln’s face on it has been in circulation since 1909.  Previous penny designs featured Lady Liberty on the front of the coin.  (Source: http://www.ehow.com/about_5278127_lincoln-penny.html)

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Back to school – Bank accounts

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=32842&picture=-100
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=32842&picture=-100

I know, I know…you don’t want to think about “back to school” yet – it feels like school just let out for the summer!  However, if you’ll think about it for just a few minutes and get this bit of financial housekeeping in order, then you can go back to your summer playtime!

As you prepare for going to school again in the fall, one of the essential items on your list should be opening a bank account.  It’s helpful to have an account at a bank that is local in your college town for easy access when paying for books, food, and fun.  Ideally, the bank you choose is also convenient for you in your hometown so that you can always access your money.

To start out, I recommend that you open a checking account at a bank of your choosing.  There are plenty of banks that offer free checking accounts (they usually don’t pay any interest, but they also don’t charge any fees or have minimum balances).  You want to look for one of these.

Here are a few questions to ask when looking for a checking account that’s right for you:

  • What kind of overdraft protection is available (a savings account or credit card are normal answers)?
  • Is there a fee for this account?
  • What are the other fees, such as ATM fees?
  • Do you have a minimum balance requirement?
  • Do you charge transaction fees?
  • Do your checking accounts earn interest?

If you’re interested in keeping your money at one bank for home and school (assuming that you don’t go to school in the same region as your hometown), start by looking into national banks such as Wells Fargo, Capital One, and Bank of America.  They have a variety of account options to explore and will likely have branches in your hometown and college town.

These days with finances going digital, online banks such as Capital One 360, Nation Bank, and Ally Bank are a few more banks to consider.  You can still perform all the same transactions that you can with traditional banks, but there is no store front to visit.  For example, to make a deposit, you can usually take a picture of the check with your phone camera and submit that to the bank.

I wrote a little more in depth about what I like about Capital One 360 in this post, and if you’d like to open an account, please consider using this link: https://r.capitalone360.com/PWBs7SgWpH  If you open an account with $250 or more, both you and I will get a bonus!  It’s a win-win for everyone! 🙂

Regardless of which bank you choose, the important thing is that you set up an account for yourself so that you’re all set when it comes time to go back to school.

Ok, enough of that school talk – get back to your summertime playing!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – Bank of North America was the first chartered bank in the USA – it was chartered in 1781 and opened in 1782.  It was our nation’s first central bank. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_North_America).

Anatomy of a Check

This is an important post for me.  Not only is it my first one, but this topic is part of what sparked my passion for Financial Literacy.

I distinctly remember in the 6th grade, my teacher brought in an overhead image of a blank check, much like the one pictured below, and taught us how to properly fill it out.  We each got our own copy of the check so that we could practice by ourselves.  At the time, my parents had already opened a checking account for me – I remember writing out the check for my calculator at the beginning of 6th grade.

Thinking back on these experiences now, I wonder how much of a money education kids are getting in school.  I don’t think money basics like this are taught in class, leaving it up to parents to educate their kids about money.  However, what if the parents don’t feel as though they know enough or they were never taught about money – how can they be expected to teach their kids something they’re not sure about?!

Then came my thought – I love finances, taking care of my money, and watching it grow.  I love learning new savings techniques and talking to people about money.

I even enjoy paying my bills!

With this blog, I am endeavoring to share my passion for learning about money with everyone.  So here we go, my version of Anatomy of a Check:

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When filling out a check, all you need to do is write:

1)      Today’s date

2)      The person or company to whom you wish to give the funds

3)      The amount of the check written in numbers

4)      The amount of the check written in words, putting the cents in terms of 100 (ex: 00/100 for no cents, or 50/100 for 50 cents), and drawing a line after the “100” to the word “Dollars” (this is to prevent unscrupulous people from having enough room to tamper with your check)

5)      A memo (for your records, or sometimes the recipient will request you note your account number)

6)      Your signature

Be sure you write legibly so that the bank can read the check correctly!

When you order your checks from a check printing company, your name and address will be pre-printed on your checks (7), as will your bank name (8), routing number (the first group of numbers – before the colon) (9), account number (the second group of numbers – after the colon) (10), check number (11), and the basic format of the check.

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A few interesting notes: when you write the amount to be paid in words, if that amount is different from the amount written in numbers, the bank will honor the amount written in words.  That amount is legally binding!  So, take your time when filling out checks and be sure you are doing it correctly!

Also, it is never a good idea to have your social security number pre-printed on your check – this is a very important number and private!  Finally, it is best not to get your phone number pre-printed on your checks.  If a company needs that information, you can always hand-write it on the check.

As you can see, it is not difficult to fill out a check, but if you’ve never done it before, it might take a bit of practice.  Try it a few times on the sample check below and have fun with it!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – on April 2, 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act which created the US Mint, and the first one opened in Philadelphia.  Happy Birthday US Mint!  (Source: http://www.reference.com)

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