Can I write a check to myself?

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Writing a check to yourself is one way to withdraw money from your bank account or transfer funds from one account to another. While there are other, more high-tech methods for making these transactions, writing a check to yourself is an easy option.

But it’s not the best choice for every situation. Sometimes it’s more efficient to move funds electronically or visit an ATM to make a withdrawal. Here’s when writing a check to yourself makes sense, and how to do it.

How to Write a Check

If you don’t often use your checkbook you may be wondering: How do you write a check? First, be sure to use a pen (that way, the information can’t be erased) and choose blue or black ink. Then, for every check you write, fill in each of the following details:

  • The date
  • Pay to the order of (the person or company the check is for)
  • The amount the check is for in numbers
  • The amount written out
  • Memo (this is optional—you can use it to note what the check is for—or leave it blank)
  • Your signature

How to Write a Check to Yourself

The only difference when you write a check to yourself, versus a check to someone else, is that you put your own name on the “Pay to the order of” line. Then, just like you do for every other check you write, you’ll add the date, the dollar amount written in numbers, the dollar amount written in words, an optional memo, and finally, your signature.

Be sure to record the amount the check is for in the check register that comes with your checks when you order them (you should keep this in your checkbook along with the checks themselves). In the register, write down the date, the check number, the name of the person the check is for and/or what it’s for, and the amount. This will help you balance your checkbook so you know how much money is in your account.

Why Would You Write a Check to Yourself?

Writing a check to yourself is the low-tech way of transferring money from one bank account to another, or withdrawing money from your bank account. Here is when it can make sense to write a check to yourself.

  • Making a transfer. If you’re closing one bank account and opening another, you can move funds by writing a check to yourself. You can also write yourself a check to deposit funds from one account into another at the same bank. Or, if you have accounts at different banks, you can transfer money by writing yourself a check from one bank and depositing it in the other.
  • Getting cash from your bank account. If you want to withdraw money from the bank, you can simply write yourself a check, take it to the teller at the bank, and cash it. Just be sure to endorse the check by signing it on the back.

Examples of When You Would Write a Check to Yourself

If you have money in different bank accounts and need to consolidate your funds in order to make a large purchase, you could write a check to yourself. For example, if you’re remodeling and need to transfer $20,000 from your home equity line of credit (in one institution) to your bank account (in a different institution), you can write a check to yourself to transfer the money.

When Writing a Check to Yourself Doesn’t Make Sense

Writing a check to yourself isn’t always the best, most efficient option for transferring funds or obtaining cash. Online banking, electronic transfers, and ATMs are typically faster and easier ways to get transactions done.

Transferring Money Within the Same Bank

For example, if you have two accounts at the same bank and you want to move money from one account to the other, it’s much quicker and more convenient to transfer your money through online banking. Writing yourself a check to do this is a hassle.

Getting cash out of your account

If you need to withdraw cash from your account, using an ATM can be faster and easier. If you write a check to yourself, you will need to visit the bank and go through a teller in order to cash the check and get your money. Just make sure to use an ATM within your bank’s network to help avoid ATM fees.

Risks and Concerns of Writing a Check to Yourself

When writing a check to yourself, never make the check out to “Cash.” Instead, always put your own name on the “Pay to the order of” line. This helps protect you. Otherwise, if a check is made out to “Cash,” and the check is lost or stolen, anyone can cash it.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Other Ways to Move Your Money

There are several other ways to move money that are more convenient than writing a check to yourself This includes wire transfers, ACH transfers, electronic funds transfers, and electronic banking.

Wire Transfer

Often, when people use the term “wire transfer,” they’re referring to any electronic transfer of funds, but the technical definition involves an electronic transfer from one bank or credit union to another. To make a wire transfer, you’ll pay a fee, usually between $5 and $50 and need to provide the recipient’s bank account information.

ACH or Electronic Fund Transfer

An ACH is an electronic funds transfer across banks and credit unions. If you have direct deposit for your paychecks, for instance, that money is transferred to your bank account through ACH (which stands for Automated Clearing House). You can use ACH to transfer money from an account at one bank to an account at another. The transaction is often free, but check with your bank to make sure.

Electronic Banking

Online banking will allow you to move your money from one account to another within the same bank. All you need to do is log into your online account and use the “transfer” feature.

The Takeaway

Writing a check to yourself is one way to transfer money or obtain cash, but there are many methods for doing these things that are often more convenient, such as online banking or electronic transfers. Exploring all the options can help you decide what makes the most sense for you.

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This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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Bankruptcy myths you should stop believing

Bankruptcy myths you should stop believing

Many people have misconceptions about bankruptcy. Not just the process, but also about the future fallout that comes from declaring bankruptcy. While bankruptcy should be taken seriously, it’s often not as scary as people think, said Michael Bovee, co-founder of debt relief company, Resolve. “People are so afraid of bankruptcy, they don’t even look,” he said. “They won’t even pick up the rock and see what’s underneath.”

Before choosing to file for bankruptcy, it’s important to make sure bankruptcy is the right option for your debt problems. To do that, you need to separate fact from fiction when it comes to common bankruptcy myths like these:

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“It’s the big scarlet letter B myth,” said Charles Phelan, founder of debt management company, Zipdebt. He explained that some people seeking debt relief believe that everyone will know they’ve been through a bankruptcy and they will never be able to financially rebound. While the process of filing a bankruptcy can be arduous and is not to be taken lightly, it also won’t ruin you, Phelan said.

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Bankruptcy will definitely have a negative impact on your credit score, but it won’t last forever and it might not be as far of a tumble as you think. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years and Chapter 13 bankruptcy for seven years. But the farther in your rearview mirror the bankruptcy gets, the less negative weight it will have on your credit score. And the fastest way to rebuild your credit is to use it responsibly. (Timely bill payment makes up 35% of your score.) Credit card companies will come knocking with new card offers very quickly after your bankruptcy is resolved, Bovee said. But be very careful about using credit again. The card offers you get may have very high interest rates and you don’t want to wind up in debt again.

(Related: How long does bankruptcy stay on your credit?)

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The idea of not being able to borrow money for a long time understandably makes people nervous. But filing bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get new credit or a loan. And you won’t have to wait seven or 10 years to borrow again. “Within a year, I’ve seen people get 4-5% car loans, you can get an FHA loan two years after bankruptcy,” Bovee said. If you absolutely must make a large purchase in the near future, you probably want to hold off on filing bankruptcy, but if your main concern is handling your debt, not buying a car or home, then it’s worth a look.

(Related: What happens when you file bankruptcy?)

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There is a big difference between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, from how long each lasts to what they accomplish. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is shorter (it typically takes about 90 days) and it may involve selling nonexempt assets to pay your debts. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is called a “wage earner plan.” To qualify for a wage earner plan, you must have a steady income that allows you to pay back all or part of your debts through a repayment plan lasting as long as five years. The benefit of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it gives you a good chance of keeping your house or car. But Chapter 13 is more expensive and it can be very hard for people to stay on a payment plan for so long, Bovee said. One missed payment and you could be back where you started.

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It’s true that with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a chance you could lose your home. But it’s not a given. It depends on if you’re current on your mortgage and how much equity you have in your home. If you don’t have much equity, a bankruptcy trustee likely won’t sell your home to pay your creditors. If you have a lot of equity, you’ll want to protect it. If your state’s homestead exemption laws allow you to protect all or almost all your equity, there’s a good chance a trustee won’t sell your home. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, meanwhile, you can keep your home as long as you stay current on your mortgage payments.

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The kinds of unsecured debt that are discharged in a bankruptcy include things like credit card debt, medical debt, past-due amounts on utility bills, business debts and past-due rent. If you owe the IRS back taxes, that can be wiped out in bankruptcy too, Bovee said. But the tax debt must be older than three years old and you have to have filed all your required tax returns. But not all debts will be wiped out in bankruptcy. Student loans are very, very hard to discharge and alimony and child support can’t be discharged.

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No two financial situations are the same, but many people wind up headed down the bankruptcy path because of situations out of their control. Major medical bills, job loss, and divorce or separation are some of the life events that tend to land people in financial trouble, Phelan said. “There’s no shame in this if you need it,” he said.

(Related: Credit counseling vs. chapter 13 bankruptcy)

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Bankruptcy is a complicated legal process. Your petition can be thrown out for even simple mistakes made on your filing. “I think it would be silly for a person to go down the path of bankruptcy without hiring an attorney,” Phelan said. The success rates for filing with and without an attorney tell a pretty clear story. For Chapter 7, people who represented themselves were successful 66.7% of the time versus a 96.2% success rate if they used a lawyer. For Chapter 13, people who didn’t use a lawyer were successful just 2.3% of the time verus a 41.5% success rate with a lawyer.

This article originally appeared on Resolve and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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