Nov 19, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Duplicate checks

Before I had kids, I was so organized. But all of that changed after Alex was born. It really hit home when he was a few months old and I checked the balance in my checking account to find it was off by a significant amount. I realized it was the check I'd written to American Express, and the amount I'd written the check for was the exact amount that should have been the remaining balance. In my sleep-deprived state, I'd switched the numbers around. Fortunately, I discovered the error before the account was overdrawn, and managed to transfer money in time to avoid any fees.

This was a few years ago, around the time that the law permitting companies to treat checks electronically went into effect. When I called American Express, I was told that they would send me a copy of the electronic check in eight weeks. (I never received it, but by the time the eight weeks were up, I had my canceled check from the bank. The experience didn't do anything to bolster my confidence in Amex, however.) I mentioned my experience in a discussion over at Mighty Bargain Hunter, and either he or one of his readers brilliantly suggested that duplicate checks would avoid the problem in the future.

I'd never used duplicate checks before - I hated how thick the carbon copies made the checkbook. But now they're the only kind I order. Since the organized me seems to be a thing of the past, duplicate checks ensure that I always know when I've written a check, who it was made out to, and how much it was for. There's been more than one occasion when I've been relieved to have all of that information so easily accessible, so duplicate checks definitely work for me.

Find more Works for Me Wednesday tips at Rocks in My Dryer.


Anonymous said...

I will probably always used duplicate checks--it's saved me from myself many a time, especially now that banks don't send back cancelled checks.

Aaron said...

I only use checks for our water bill and sewer tax. Every other account takes electronic payments.

Anonymous said...

How do you find checks where what you write on the check actually comes through on the carbon copy? Every time I've used the things, what I get is a blank carbon copy, or so pale I can barely make it matter how hard I press down.

Duplicates not acceptable as evidence that you actually made a payment--anyone could fake one of those. My credit union posts the canceled checks on the customer's online account site, so it's possible to download them as PDFs--free!--and store them to disk, which is mighty nice.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Aaron - Good point! This was a few years ago - now, I do pay the Amex bill and almost every other bill electronically. I write about three checks a month, but I'm glad to have duplicates for those - I just don't trust myself anymore!

@Funny about Money - I know it's not the cheapest, but I order my checks from the bank. I figure their security is probably a little bit better than a third-party since they could be liable if someone internal stole the information. Also, I'm not looking to use the carbons as proof of payment, it's just a record of what I've done b/c I just don't trust myself to keep track of everything anymore!

Miss M said...

Oh, carbon copy checks is what I call them. I've used them for years since I never bothered to use the check register. Good for jogging your memory or making sure you paid a bill.