If you are managing life on your own, you might already have some things down to a science. Holding a job, doing your laundry, and buying groceries are all basics of adult living. And of course know you need to pay your bills on time if you don’t want something shut off.
But what about finding yourself in a situation where you need to know how to write a check? While it’s true that the practice of writing checks was much more common in decades past, it isn’t totally obsolete. If you have a checking account, you can order checks along with your debit card that you already likely have. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to write one, follow this step-by-step process to help you along.
Why Do You Need To Know How To Write a Check?
Writing checks can be helpful for certain situations. Maybe it would save you money by paying your rent via check rather than paying online with a convenience fee. Even if you end up writing checks very rarely, it’s still a useful skill to have.
You should make sure that you have the checks in your name, and they also have your current address and phone number on them. Some businesses require this before they will accept a check from you. It can save time and frustration if everything is already pre-printed.
Situations Where You Might Need To Use Checks
You might need to write checks in certain situations such as:
- Paying rent
- Making a deposit someplace
- Paying a medical bill
Writing a check out of your checking account is cheaper than getting a money order since you don’t need to worry about paying extra for the money order. It is generally faster and convenient, too, since you won’t need to go to a store to complete these steps. If you have the checks in your name, everything can be done right away.
The Steps Involved in How To Write a Check
Before you get started, make sure you know what is necessary when writing a check for the first time. It helps to take a look at what information is required. That way, you will know exactly what goes where, eliminating any possible confusion.
1. Date the Check
Make sure you date the check with today’s date. It’s important to note that if a check is dated for a future date, it can’t be cashed until then. This might work when you are sending in your rent through a dropbox. However, if you are paying something and it is due that day, your best bet is to write down today’s date.
2. Know Who You Are Paying
The payee line is the name of the person or place you are making the check out to. The line might also say “Payable to” — just remember that it is the same thing. Make sure you have the proper spelling of the place or person you are paying. If something is incorrect, you would need to issue a new check.
3. Write and Spell Out the Amount of Money
There will be a box on the far right-hand side of the check. This is where you numerically write out the amount of money you are making the check out for, such as $100. On the left-hand side, you should see a long line. This is where you would spell out the amount of money the check is for, like one hundred dollars.
If there is space left on the line, some individuals choose to make another line across the remainder of the space, so no one else can include any extra numbers.
4. Fill Out the Memo Line if Appropriate
You should see a section on the left-hand side that says “For” or “Memo.” It is not necessary to fill in this line if you would rather not. Some people only do so for their own benefit, so they can remember what they wrote the check for.
In some types of situations, like paying a bill, you might be asked to put an account number or other reference on the memo line. This usually helps the company’s payment processing staff or software apply your check correctly.
5. Don’t Forget To Sign
You are almost done! The only thing left to do is sign your check, to make sure it is complete. This is necessary in order for the check to be cashed, or it will get returned to you. If you were trying to pay a bill or handle some other important issue, this could result in late fees or other possible financial issues. Give the check a once-over to make sure everything looks good on your end.
Keep a Ledger
Now that you have written a check, it is important to keep a ledger of all your transactions. This is because sometimes checks can take a while to clear, especially if you sent them in the mail. A check might not clear until someone takes it to the bank, so if you paid your rent this way, it might take a little extra time.
Don’t be fooled by the number you see in your online bank account. If your check wasn’t cashed yet, it is going to look like you have more money in there than you actually do. Getting in the habit of using a ledger for your checking account can help you budget better.
Understanding How To Write a Check Is Just One Step of Adulting
Knowing how to write a check is just one of the many steps you should learn on your journey as an adult. It can help you out in a variety of situations and make life easier overall if you need to pay a bill and don’t want to spend extra time or money doing so.
Looking to learn other important life skills? Check out our article on treating and dressing a wound so you’ll always be prepared for whatever comes your way.