Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Writing Checks

Twenty or thirty years ago, you'd pay for a lot of things with checks. Now? Of course not. If you can pay with plastic, you do, and most places you go, you can. And you can pay for a lot of things electronically, too. But you still can't pay for everything electronically, and so, I still have to write a check every now and then.

But how often? That's what I'm going to find out! I'm counting the number of checks I write in 2013, starting from January 1st. For simplicity's sake, I'm only counting my checks, not Amber's checks.

Most of the checks I write these days can be classified in one of these four categories:
- Day care. I don't think there's a way to pay our day care "tuition" electronically, so this transaction is still done with ink and paper.
- Sports leagues (curling and kickball). I pay league and membership fees, and curling tournament (bonspiel) fees, with check. Our curling club gives its members the option to pay online via PayPal, but PayPal charges an extra fee for that; even when you consider that most banks charge for more when you run out of checks, writing a check is still much cheaper in this instance.
- Church. Dropping a check instead of cash into the collection dish at church allows us to track our church giving for tax deduction purposes.
- Personal transactions. If I owe person X more than $50, I'll usually just cut him or her a check instead of a stack of 20s.
Come to think of it, I've already written one check in 2013 that doesn't fit under any of those categories: our Homeowners Association dues. But that's just one check a year. We'll see if anything else comes up.

I'm expecting the number of checks I write in 2013 to be in the neighborhood of 40, with about two-thirds of those going to the church. (So far, I'm already up to 5. Fast start!) That's more than I would have had to write a few years ago, back when we didn't go to church, and didn't have a daughter (and, thus, no day care costs). Although back in our apartment days, we did have to pay rent via check, whereas now we make our mortgage payments electronically.

When I first opened a bank account in North Carolina, the bank gave me 150 checks, and it took me over six years to use them all. Six years! That works out to 25 a year, or about two a month; however, the actual number is less than that, because at least a few of those 150 were ripped up and never actually used. (As in, "Oops, I wrote the wrong thing, gotta start over with a new check".)

I guess you could debate whether a messed up check is actually "used" or not. I'm saying it's not, because the point of this exercise is to see how many checks I need to write in a given year.

Check back (pun intended) in January 2014 to see the answer.

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