Are you still using bank checks to pay for everything? If so, why?
Before you order that next box of bank checks (whether from your financial institution or from an independent printer), stop and ask yourself: “Do I really need checks anymore?”
That may seem like an odd question at first glance, but think about it: in our plastic-and-electronics era, are paper checks worth the time and effort you have to put into them…must less their actual physical cost, small though it may be?
We humans have always been savvy about simplifying our monetary exchange formats. Back in the really old days, money was basically big rocks with holes in ’em. Not exactly portable, so eventually folks started carrying around things like wampum belts and lumps of precious metal instead.
Of course, large amounts of money were still prohibitively heavy in those formats, so eventually someone decided that paper currency was the way to go. And yet even then, really large sums were hard to handle. Even in $100 bills, for example, a million bucks is more than you can easily carry.
A New Revolution
In the 1600s, Dutch banks started letting depositors write promissory notes to their creditors, who could then bring them to the bank to be cashed in for real money. The idea took off, and by the mid-1800s, people were using the kind of printed checks we’d recognize, complete with account numbers and address info.
But all good things must end. Given recent developments in payment technology, there are simpler ways to pay for things now…and no real reason to use checks anymore. Let’s face it: checks are going extinct.
Out With the Old
The truth is, most people who still write checks do so out of inertia, or for outdated security reasons. Nowadays, you can pay for almost everything with credit or debit cards, EFTs, bank billpay programs, or direct online payments: household bills, car payments, mortgages and rent, entertainment, etc.
Most of these services are free, and once you’ve set everything up, it’s a lot easier and quicker to shuffle electrons than to write a check. Admit it: doesn’t it annoy you when someone ahead of you in line at the store pays with a check, when you could get out of there in a minute or less with plastic?
And as a savvy consumer, there’s the savings angle. If you stop using checks, you don’t have to pay for printing them, you don’t have to waste time writing them, and you don’t have to buy as many stamps, which keep getting more expensive.
Admittedly, you won’t save a huge amount of money if you stop using checks. But you’ll save enough to make it worth saying “bye-bye” to bank checks for good.