Monday, July 25, 2011

Does Anyone Really Write Checks Anymore?

I remember when we had to actually write checks and stick them in the mail to pay our bills.  Nowadays I go months between writing checks.  A book of checks can last me years.  I have all the bills either set up to pay automatically every month, like the car payment, internet, phone, and DirecTV, or I pay them online through my bank's website or the individual creditor's site.  There are a few places that aren't actually set up to take electronic payments, but I still don't have to write a check for those.  I can have my bank do it.  And, since I can do that, why would I want to write a check out by hand, stick it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and actually mail it?

That's why I can't figure out why the Wisconsin Department of Transportation actually expects me to do just that.  When it's time to pay the car registration for the year, I actually have to mail the card they send back to them - in an envelope with a check.  Oh, I could pay online, but they'd charge me an additional fee, which I refuse to pay.  Why should it cost more to pay online?  It seems to me that they'd rather have people pay online because it would save them some time messing with paper checks, but what do I know?  Tomorrow I'll write a check and mail it off to renew Jeffrey's license plate sticker.  But I don't have to like it...

I know there are people who don't feel comfortable with it, but I think all banking, bill paying, etc. should be done online - or the option should at least be available.  I know our bank encourages it.  They say the electronic transactions are safer than handwritten checks - besides being more convenient for me.  It's even possible to email money to anyone with an email address and a US bank account, though I've never tried it. (No, I'm not taking volunteers!)

I have been checking our bank's website recently to keep an eye on mortgage rates, because we want to catch it as low as possible when we refinance.  It's also a good way to check CD interest rates and compare a Roth IRA with a traditional IRA.  Now that Jeffrey is 50, he can contribute an additional $1000 per year to either one of them.  (Just had to mention it)   The information is updated every day and all available without actually having to talk to a person, and that I like a lot.  When it's time to actually lock something in and sign papers, we'll have to talk to a real person, but until then I'm doing it all online.

Except for that check I have to write...