Despite what some people might think, checks are still part of our lives. What has probably changed tremendously is the way we deposit these checks into our bank accounts. Today, you can snap a photo of your check and use mobile depositing apps to add money to your bank account in less than five minutes.
In today’s digital world, you may think checks are a thing of the past. When in reality, the truth couldn’t be farther away from that. For more than one transaction, it might be best to use a check instead of electronic alternatives.
They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but when it comes to Valentine’s Day it sure doesn’t make things easier. Dinner over Zoom just doesn’t offer the same intimacy and a shared movie alone in your separate spaces is, well, lonely.
On Friday, February 12, 2021, the Lunar New Year begins. You will soon be putting up red lanterns, cut-outs, and paintings adorned with the image of the rat to ward off evil and to encourage longevity, health, and peace.
Sensitive people need to grow a thick skin to survive in today’s workplace. Thanks, in part to social media, common decency and discourse in society has broken down, and most of us must deal with rudeness at work. Still, there’s no excuse for incivility. It is not a show of strength; at best, it is a display of lack of social skills, and at worst, it creates a toxic environment for everyone.
But here are 5 reasons that you should continue to balance your checkbook, even with all of the technological gains.
Fees, Charges & Penalties
Have you ever read the terms and conditions on your bank account? Do you really understand what the financial jargon means?
Banks must notify you usually about 30 days before they add on new fees, charges or penalties.
You should balance your checkbook to ensure that you don’t receive a “non-sufficient funds” (NSF) charge; the bank might have been subtracting money from your account for new fees and you bounced a check because you didn’t know how much was available.
Human Cashiers Still Make Mistakes
Many banks go through numerous customer service representatives in a short amount of time. One mistyped “0” can mean a big difference in your account.
People are only human, we all make mistakes. Balancing your checkbook can find these errors before they become big.
There may be a statute of limitations on certain errors. You want to bring mistakes to your bank’s attention as soon as possible.
Computers are programmed by humans. While it is extremely rare, there may be a computer glitch in dealing with fractions that could effect your bank account.
Remember that your interest is a percentage of the value of money in your account. If the computer does not properly handle these mathematical calculations, there could be an error.
Your credit score could be unduly damaged by human or computer errors.
Cyber Criminals Are Clever
Malware allows hackers to steal millions every day according to federal cyber crime police.
One of the negatives of mobile banking is that the security features are still not completely safe.
Balancing your checkbook can lead you to becoming aware of hacking attacks or identity theft before these dangers can completely ruin your life.
Develop Financial Discipline
Wealth management skills are learned not innate. By continually balancing your checkbook, you become aware of how much you have, how much you added and any discrepancies in your account. Y
our bank account information remains in the forefront of your mind. You also develop better financial discipline. This can help you when there is an unexpected downturn in your financial situation.
Banking technology is better, but nothing is foolproof. Children and adults should learn how to balance a checkbook in order to manage their money. Wealth management skills can be the difference between life success and failure.
Our financial lives can always use an overhaul, and what better time than in the new year to refresh what’s become stale and unprofitable?
Rethinking how we manage our finances for a new year is one of those things that is worth our time and exploration. All sorts of good things can come from a personal finance reboot, so to speak.
Review Your Budget
One good way to start to rethink your finances is to take note of how you spend your money.
Learn how to take small financial steps that lead to big gains. Jot down, in a notepad, every penny that you spend on everything from the essentials to entertainment.
Being aware of where your money goes is much like a dieter looking at the scale to assess the weight they are losing. The only difference is that if you make adjustments to your frivolous ways of spending, your money will grow and you have everything to gain from that.
So for the New Year, a strong resolution is: gain money, not weight.
Set Specific Amounts to Save
No matter how dreaded the task may seem, learn to set specific financial goals such as contributing X amount to an emergency fund. This is a practice that pays off in the event of unforeseen expenditures.
Those who start the year setting measurable savings amounts for the coming months tend to repeat this smart practice each year and end up better off financially than those who don’t.
Resolve to set financial goals that are attainable and measurable, so you can protect yourself from financial storms.
Automatically Pay Yourself for Your Future
You can automatically set aside a percentage of your income, and this is a good way to contribute to any savings towards a home or car, retirement, 401(k), or college fund. Make it a habit to pull ten percent of your income out and pay yourself just like you would any bill. With discipline, your financial future may look brighter before you know it. So here’s a resolution: set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank account to an investment account. You will pay yourself automatically, and you probably won’t even notice that the money has left your bank account.
With the onset of mobile banking and the use of apps, one suggestion is that you switch to a financial institution that provides optimum services and tools for your personal financing. The new year could be a prime time to do so.
If finding a bank that offers online personal financial management (PFM) tools helps you budget wisely and learn how to make your money work better for you, then that could be a New Year’s resolution worth looking into.
Resolve to Make a Resolution
More important than any single financial New Year’s resolution is the commitment to taking charge of your finances. Whatever resolution you make will be better than ignoring your finances altogether.
Once you get in the habit of paying attention to how you use your money, you may find that you actually enjoy managing finances, rather than dreading it. An easy way to get started is to write down three improvements you’d like to see in your finances, such as income, savings, paying bills on time, and so forth. Then think about the specific steps you would have to take to make those things happen.
Before you know it, you’ll be way ahead of the financial game.
At the end of next year, you’ll look back and congratulate yourself for making New Year’s resolutions that are practical and can shape your future.
Today’s checks have a host of security features that make it difficult if not impossible for them to be forged or counterfeited. Security features on checks these range from special ink to special paper to holographic images.
Modern checks are printed on chemically sensitive paper, which causes stains or discoloration when someone tries to alter the check.
Most checks also have coatings on the paper that cause the toner to adhere. If someone attempts to lift the toner with a piece of sticky tape, it will rip the paper, rendering the check unusable.
Checks these days also come with a range of features that are meant to thwart copying and counterfeiting. These include:
Watermarks, which is a distinctive symbol that is visible on the original checks but won’t reproduce on a copy;
Visible fibers, often of varying colors, that are present throughout the check paper and make copying nearly impossible;
Security screen backer, which contains words that will fade or disappear completely on a photocopy or scanned image of the check;
Multi-colored backgrounds, which make the check difficult to copy or reproduce;
Microprinting — microscopic words, viewable only under a magnifying glass, that become pixelated and unreadable on a copy of the check;
Void indication, which is an area on the check backer with the word “void” in it that only appears in a reproduction.
You might think that check makers would want to hide these security features from those who might want to circumvent them, but today’s high-security checks do the exact opposite, using several methods to advertise their security features. These include:
A warning band on the face of the check that announces the security features;
A warning box on the back of the check that lists the security features;
A padlock icon that shows the checks meet industry standards for security features.