Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Check Writing Nostalgia: No More Slack

Honestly, it’s been a long time since it has mattered, but not so long that I don’t remember. When I was a young Army wife, I always knew I could write a check two days before pay day because it took at least that long for the check to clear.

What was funny, was that when we would leave our post in Amman, Jordan to visit classmates at the embassy in Damascus, we could go shopping in the souks, and checks we would write for gold, or carpets, or beautiful copper pots would clear days before the checks we would write at the embassy for cash. They must have had couriers; my guess is that the checks went by car to Beirut and then were combined with other checks and flown to the USA. Those checks cleared very quickly!

This morning as I was doing some banking, as I checked in to my bank, the first thing I saw was this notification:

We have already seen this at several of the businesses where we write checks; they run the check through and hand it back to us and the money is gone from our account almost instantaneously.

It used to drive AdventureMan crazy. I handled the month-to-month expenses. He would ask how much we had left, and I would say something like “Oh, six hundred twenty two dollars, plus the invisible thousand.” In his mind, the “invisible thousand” was sloppy financial practice. In my mind, it protected me against unexpected emergencies and overdrawing the account. It was worth it to me. We kept track of our checks (oh this sounds so old-fashioned now when I tell you about it, so quaint, so archaic) in a registry, where every time we wrote a check we wrote down the check number, the amount, who it was to, and on those accounts which charged by check, the check charge. At the end of the month, the bank would send you a paper statement, and you had to go through all your returned checks to see if there were any that hadn’t cleared, then subtract those from your total, and your total needed to match the bank’s total. On occasion, I would spend hours trying to find where I might have made a mistake. Mostly, it came out right.

Now, I do most of it online, and the bank keeps a running total for me. All I have to do is log on, and those totals are there, and up to date. I guess they are about to get up-to-dater.

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September 5, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues | 2 Comments