Saturday, January 5, 2013

Still Life With Robin: Check the Year

by Peggy Robin

Here's a tip about how to remember to write "2013" instead of "2012" on your checks in the first weeks of the new year: Get out your checkbook and write 2013 on the date line of the first half dozen or so checks in your checkbook.

I thought this was a handy little technique to avoid the trap of writing year-old dates on my checks...until I went to my purse and took out my checkbook to do just that, and discovered that I had not hand-written a check since October of 2011! That is to say, in all of 2012 I did not write out a single check in pen. I see I made out that long-ago last check to a craftsperson at the Renaissance Fair in Crownsville, Maryland. I would bet double the cost of the charming little thingamabob I bought that by now this craftsperson has a credit card reader that plugs right into her iPad or iPhone. Anyone can get them --they're free-- and the transaction fee is under three percent. And of course, the receipts are sent automatically sent by email with the correct date.

Now that I think of it, I haven't paid any of my regular bills by check in years and years. I pay all the utilities using electronic transfers. Occasionally, I will need to write a check to the guy who delivers firewood or someone who comes to the house to repair a broken something-or-other, but in that case, I use my banking program, which directs me to feed the check into my printer; I press a button and the check emerges from the machine with everything neatly filled in on the proper lines, including the current date. The program then syncs the transaction with my bank, so I can't even make a mistake in recording what's on the check. The program even forces me to store useful information that is not on the check, such as the category of the expenditure, and whether it's tax-deductible or not.

So my new and improved tip for the new year is to suggest to all that you try living check-free, both in how you pay others and how you are paid. You have your choice among a number of convenient ways to do this: use PayPal (all you need is an email address and a bank); use a credit card reader (all you need is a smartphone and the free device); or use electronic banking (all you need is a bank account and a computer). The only thing I don't recommend is the use of cash. It may have been the best way to pay in '12...but that's only if the first two digits of the year are 19.


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

No comments:

Post a Comment