Being an adult can be stressful, especially when it comes to money. In this segment of Adult 101, you can learn how to write a check, thanks to assistance from consultants at Loyola’s own PNC bank branch.
Whether you are writing them to the landlord for rent or racing them to the post office before the electric bill is due, checks are a necessity in the adult world. Many people want the physical copy of a transaction that has occurred, hence, written checks.
First, and most importantly, to write checks, you must have a checking account. This is pretty simple to do if you don’t have one already, just walk into your local bank branch and they can help you set up an account.
Next, to write checks, you will need a checkbook. Most banks offer a free basic checkbook for those with a checking account. If you already have a checking account and did not receive one, a call to the bank can fix this.
So you now have a checkbook and someone wants a check from you. Don’t panic, this isn’t the FAFSA. Luckily enough, most checks are fairly self-explanatory once you understand what goes where.
Also, before writing, you can stop desperately trying to recollect your knowledge of cursive from the fourth grade. It is not mandatory for checks to be written in cursive, however it is important that they are legible.
Fill out the current date on the “date” line. Next to “Pay to the Order of” write the check recipient’s full name or the full title of the organization. If you do not know, look it up! It’s important that this is accurate.
Next to that line is a blank box with a dollar sign. That is where the amount of the check goes, including dollars and cents. For example, a $50 check would be written as “$50.00.”
Underneath the “Pay to the Order of” line is where you will write out the check’s amount. For example, $50 can be spelled out as “Fifty dollars” or “Fifty dollars and 0/100 cents.” Also, if the line is not completely filled, it is recommended that you draw a line to the end. That way no one can turn your $50 into $500.
Finally, don’t forget to sign it! The check must be signed in the bottom right corner to be valid.
You also have the option to fill out the memo portion in the bottom left corner. Here you can write a note to the recipient or yourself. For example, “September rent for Apartment 24B.”
Before you run off to pay your rent and teach your roommates, there are a few more important things about checks to keep in mind so you don’t find yourself in financial troubles.
Sometimes checks are not immediately cashed, so it is crucial to make sure you do not overdraft. This means when the check is finally cashed, if you do not have enough money in your checking account, the check will “bounce,” and you will be charged the check’s amount as well as a fee.
Our PNC friends recommend getting a banking app on your phone so you can track your purchases to make sure there is still enough money in your account. Be wary, however, sometimes transactions take a while to process through.
Another plus of virtual banking is the online bill-pay and overdraft protection features. Bills can be scheduled online and you can even set aside the money in your account. Usually a warning will appear if your spending starts to dip into the money set aside.
Banking online, at least in PNC’s case, can also allow digital checks to be made. Simply fill out all the information and they will mail it for you, saving some paper, a trip to the post-office and the worries about lost checks.
A final word on checks: Always, always, always check your balance before writing one. Also, write it in advance since this method takes a few business days, the PNC employees advise.
Best of all, if you are still completely lost when it comes to check-writing and other financial things, the employees at the campus PNC branch, located in the Damen Student Center, are available to do individual or group financial learning appointments.
And no, they don’t think it’s embarrassing if you want them to look over your first written check before you put it in the mail.