Is it bad that we wrote a check for $10?

$10 bill folded U.S. Treasury - COOL!
Is it bad that we still USE CHECKS?! (Ziiiiing!) The wifey and I had to tip our pet sitter the other day and we couldn’t figure out how to go about doing it without annoying her. (We couldn’t do it face-to-face…And on a side note, pet sitting is EXPENSIVE! If you’re ever looking for a new hustle, I highly encourage you to start your own service ;) If you like animals and all.)

At first she was gonna drop a $10’er in the mail and be done with it, but I lovingly reminded her that sending cash was a big no-no and that I’d blog it to the world if she didn’t listen to me ;) (Even though I’ve been known to break this rule on many occasions out of pure laziness, or when kid’s birthdays come up – they love seeing $20 bills!). Putting  cash in the mail is like playing hide and go seek with your money only there’s more hiding than seeking.  And these postal mongers know very well you can’t track cash.

But writing a check for $10 seems just as foolish too. I could understand $20 or maybe even $15, but anything in the $1-$10 range personally doesn’t motivate me enough to go cash it anytime soon.  And that’s the WORST! When you’re just waiting for someone to cash a check of yours and they take sooooo freakin’ long to deposit it? Bleh.  I wouldn’t want to be on either side of that.

So as I commonly do when I’m stumped, I shoot things around Twitter and see where it lands. And this time around it seemed I was the one that was the outcast.

  • @jerrets Money is money, right? I’d take a $10 check.
  • @SandiAdy I wouldn’t be offended, I’d be happy you cared enough to go to the trouble.
  • @ctreit Nope, I would not be mad about a tip paid by check in this case.
  • @BestMoneyBlog I wouldn’t get mad at any tip, so… just go ahead and send one my way

Would it change if I gave you $10 in pennies?! :)  I guess it all makes sense though.  Kinda makes me wonder if I’ve gotten less-frugal in my older age! (Actually, I know for a fact I have.  Ever since our budget’s been on auto pilot I’ve gotten a lot less strict w/ the details. At least the smaller ones…)  5 years ago I’d have happily taken a check for $3! Haha… time is just much more precious to me now.

But anyways, after some back and forth we decided to cut a check out for $15 instead. This way our pet sitter gets a little more for a job well done, and yours truly can rest peacefully knowing she’ll be hitting up the bank sometime soon ;)  I know it sounds silly, but that’s just the way my brain works…  I think we’re all a bit weird when it comes to our money sometimes.

Do you guys have problems writing checks for a few bucks too?
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  1. Blair MacGregor July 19, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Nah, the $10 checks are fine, at least in my mind. Nobody gets hurt with those.

    What I try and avoid are the $10 (and under) debit card charges, especially when I go around to some of the local shops in my area. They get dinged a % by their merchant account for every transaction so I try to avoid pulling out the debit card for smaller transactions. A lot of businesses won’t even take debit/credit cards for smaller purchases.


  2. Leslie July 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    I met up with some friends for this rafting adventure and was running late. A friend offered to pay for my $20 ticket so we would not all be late, then I could pay him back later. When I arrived, I gave him the $11 cash that I had on me and said “Just remind me next time we hang out, I owe you $8.”

    A few weeks later, we had not had a chance to hang out yet, and his girlfriend emails me, saying that money has been tight for them and would really appreciate it if I could send him a check for the $8 that I owe him…. I did, but was rather surprised by the request. However, I suppose money is money.

  3. Lynne July 19, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Heck- no! It doesn’t bother me to write a “little” check. Sometimes you write the little check, and you have met your obligation….but the recipient doesn’t ever cash it….hmmm. Nothing like free, I guess.

  4. kt- lifedividend July 19, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    i dont write small checks and i don’t like receiving small checks.That is why i always wait for them to pile up to some nice big(ish) figure before requesting them. Checks over $100 are big enough for me. But if you are planning to give me a check of $10 them i will take it without a single complaint

  5. Stephan July 19, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    While checks are definitely not as common in my life as they used to be i have no issues receiving or giving out checks for any value. money is money, and while i do agree with you that the smaller amounts take much longer to cash, i have gotten used to it. i recently got a check from macys for a refund for $2.80, i cashed it the same day and bought lunch with it=)

  6. Jenna July 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    I’d much rather receive a check than cash. Cash is much harder to track for the purposes of my budget, so a check ensures it has to go to the bank and will be tracked! But if someone was giving me a tip or gift, I wouldn’t really care what form it comes in!

    It does drive me crazy when people don’t cash checks in a timely manner, but, since I don’t usually have cash on me, that tends to be the way I have to pay people back. However, it’s not often that I write them, so the chance of a delayed-check-cashing isn’t too great.

  7. Lulu July 19, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    The check is still valid and I am sure it meant A LOT to the pet sitter…it is all a matter of perspective.
    PineCone sends me checks for $3 for doing little surveys and someone at the bank asked me if I was tired of getting those little checks since the amount is so small. I happily replied that it is worth the same if it was cash so I don’t mind. It also makes for easy tracking because there is a paper trail and if it got lost I could have them cancel and reissue…unlike with cash.

  8. Kimberly July 19, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    I say definitely not weird, especially if it’s going in the mail (and the $5 increase doesn’t hurt either!). I think the most embarrassing time I wrote a check was one time last year when I forgot my wallet and did not realize I had 0 cash or my debit card in my purse until I was at the register, but alas I did have my check book and therefore used it to pay for a $3 sandwich. These things happen!

  9. J. Money July 19, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    @Blair MacGregor – Does Subway count? I just swiped $7 worth ;) Fresh out of my recent $100 biweekly cash take-out.
    @Leslie – Ahh yes, very familiar with those requests. Back in the day I needed every $1 I could get too, so totally understand where they’re coming from. It’s great you put it in the mail for them! I remember having to ask a 2nd and 3rd time before, not fun.
    @Lynne – Yeah that’s what scares me – that they never cash it! Cuz the day I forget (which is, like, every day) I’ll pull out too much money or something and get dinged. Which is another reason linking up your checking with savings account is smart – saves ya from going into the negatives.
    @kt- lifedividend – Sure, I’ll give you $10 if you give me a nice case of beer :)
    @Stephan – I don’t know what’s more impressive, that you got this rebate or that you found lunch for $2.80!! haha….
    @Jenna – That’s true, cash is harder to track and easier to spend before it makes it to the bank :)
    @Lulu – Do you want all my $3 checks too? ;)
    @Kimberly – haha….yeah that’s no fun. hopefully you didn’t hold up the line and cause a ruckus! check-writers usually do ;)

  10. danielle July 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    i’ve been on both sides. my 2 co-workers and i went out during the NBA finals and the bill came to $30 even with tip. The next day my co-worker wrote me a check for $10 and i gladly accepted it. i did note in my mind 1. wow a $10 check! and 2. i should keep my checkbook on me in case of these types of emergencies. I know that she really wanted to pay me the next day (for good faith) and didn’t have cash on her. and actually now, because of that incident, i keep my checkbook on me whenever i can. i wrote my friend a check this past Saturday for event tickets she bought me, and let her know to cash it as soon as she can so as to 1. try to avoid the not-cashing-a-check-for-2-weeks scenario and 2. help her out since she is low on cash.

    my vote is that a $10 check is all good!

  11. Adam July 19, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    Cheques seem really old fashioned for a young’un across the pond.

    Could you not have done a bank transfer? I’ve paid money into the accounts of my friends (and they have mine) with a click of the button. I just type in my friend’s bank number and sort code in online banking and instantly transfer it.

    Paypal would work too if your sitter had it.

    I don’t know how everyone manages with cheques. I have one lying around that I haven’t cashed yet because it’s so inconvenient. I work long hours during the week so really only have Saturday mornings to head over the bank….and who wants to get up early on Saturday mornings? :)

  12. Yana July 19, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    I don’t write many checks, but if there were a reason to write a $10 check, I would do so. As far as receiving a small check and not cashing it, I can’t imagine doing that – and by small, I mean less than $10. Checks are written to me weekly, and it is simply a matter of collecting them since I know I will be making a deposit anyway. Why would I disregard any amount of money?

    This reminds me of way back when, when I had a collection agency after me. They sent me a check for around $3.00, pretending it was from some kind of rebate. However, the city of origin was the same as the collectors, and I was not expecting a rebate. This presented a challenge to me, because I don’t throw away money, but I knew that if I used the check at a bank, my account number would be written on the check for the collector to do with as it saw fit. If I gave it to a grocery clerk as partial payment of my groceries, I would have to put my driver’s license number on it. As it turned out, in those days, my grocery store had a payment station for paying the phone bill. I endorsed the check and used it as partial payment toward my phone bill, but I dropped it in the box so that I would not be there when the clerk took the money. That worked just fine. Kinda like a coupon ;)

  13. J. Money July 19, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    @danielle – Not a bad idea actually. Although, then I’d be scared of having all those blank checks on ya! Maybe keeping just 1 folded up and hidden may be better?
    @Adam – Oh believe me, I would have LOVED to do an e-check or Paypal! It ended up actually being a one time thing. We switched pet sitters cuz they were just wayyyy overpriced, and we didn’t find this other one somehow the first time.
    @Yana – Oh you are bad! :) Haha…love the creativity though. You finally shake all of them off? Were you scared like ALL the time? Gives me the heebie jeebies.

  14. Ace July 19, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    I think $10 would be the lower limit for me. I would hate to waste the time to go to the bank to go deposit a check for anything less than that. I remember back when I was doing surveys with pinecone research, they were sending me checks for $3! I ended up being really lazy and waiting until I had 3-4 of them before going to the bank.

    But you made a great point about time and money. I think a lot of it depends on who you’re giving it to. If you’re giving it to a teenager or a young adult I think that it’s reasonable to cut checks less than $10.

  15. myfinancialobjectives July 19, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    The only time I ever write checks is for rent/utilities. But let me tell you, I would not have a problem at all! Just a few weeks ago I posted about how I bought a cup of coffee worth $1.79 with my debit card because I wanted the extra $1.00 to transfer into my savings account! :) Us PF bloggers are a rare breed…..

  16. Yana July 19, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    Yeah, I can be devious, but mostly I think it’s a certain kind of creativity. With financial things, it is a good thing to be a thinker. Money and numbers are a kind of game to me, and also, I like to know how things work. How businesses work, how to fulfill requirements using alternate methods, and so forth.

    I wasn’t scared all the time, but as far as shaking them off, I don’t think you can ever do that. It appears that those days are gone, but I’ve read that collectors in particular will target people many years later. They disregard the laws, and they are counting on consumers to respond with great fear to their terrorizing actions. Probably the number one reason for so many bankruptcies – to get rid of the collectors.

  17. Donna Freedman July 19, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    @Leslie: I think you still owe him, because $8 + $11 = $19, not $20?
    J$: Feel free to mail me a check for $10. I promise to cash it promptly and avoid causing you stress.

  18. Adrian @ PIN July 20, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    I think it’s bad because I am not a fan of having to go to the bank just to cash a $10 check. On the other hand money is money I don’t mind receiving a $10 check.

  19. eemusings July 20, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Cheques…another American quirk!

    Jokes. Aside from businesses, cheques are seriously extinct here. I’ve never had a cheque book, don’t see why I would ever need or want one.

    They take ages to clear and they’re a pain.

  20. mbhunter July 20, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    You can send me all of the $10 checks you want. I’ll e-mail you my mailing address.

  21. nyx July 20, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    Yes, come into the 21st century. lol. =)

    Just kidding. Its up to you, I don’t write checks, I see them as a hassle, I just stick to cash and plastic.

  22. Khaleef @ KNS Financial July 20, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    I actually go a step further. I will set up the person as a vendor with my bank’s online billpay service, and have the bank mail them a check for whatever small amount it is. This way the money is automatically deducted from my bank account on whatever day I schedule the check to arrive – so they can let it sit around if they want, but at least I won’t have to keep remembering that little check is still out there!

  23. J. Money July 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    @Ace – Shoooooot…I’d have taken a check for $0.75 as a kid!
    @myfinancialobjectives – Rare breed = AWESOME breed too ;)
    @Yana – Haha yeah, I like your creativity indeed :) I’ll agree that some bill collectors can be extremely sketch!!! I plan on never having to find out personally too :)
    @Donna Freedman and mbhunter – I’ll tell you what. If any of you can find one of these for me I’ll give you $10 for it :)
    @Adrian @ PIN – It’s true, money is money.
    @eemusings – They’ll be extinct one day :)
    @nyx – Believe me, it’s not my preference.
    @Khaleef @ KNS Financial – Hmmm…does that actually “take out” the money from your account though as if it’s already gone? Or do you still have to wait for it to clear to not see it anymore? Cuz if it’s the latter, it’s the same thing :)

  24. MomsManyProjects July 20, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    I have checks, but I rarely (if ever) use them anymore. I don’t carry them around with me either…that’s what a debit card is for!

    As for receiving checks, I don’t mind at all! I love receiving unexpected checks in the mail! The last one I received was for $0.23, which seems like an awful waste to me. They spent more on the stamp than the check! I’ll deposit it, but it’ll be a while…I’m not spending more on gas for the trip to the bank than what the check is worth. I’ll wait until I receive another expected check before depositing it!

    Also, I was wondering why you should be concerned with going over on your account if the person you sent the check to waits a long time to cash it? If you deduct what you’ve spent right away, then it’s in the account…you can clear it later when it’s been cashed. I never wait until bills/payments have been cashed before taking them out of my account register…that’s just asking for an overdraft!

  25. J. Money July 20, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Well truth be told I don’t balance or deduct/clear anything ;) I just log into my Checking account every day and make sure the balance is always $100 and up (which it should be if I’m budgeting/tracking correctly). That extra $100 is for times when I mess up or people take forever to cash their checks from me! haha…

  26. Khaleef @ KNS Financial July 20, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    @ J. Money – Yeah, the money comes out whenever you schedule it. For instance, if I need to pay you $10, I can have a check mailed to you by 7/26 and that’s the date the money will be deducted from my account. Even if you don’t cash it until September!

    This is how I can get around someone who isn’t motivated to cash my checks. I actually pay my rent and give offerings in church by doing this. I have the checks delivered on payday, so I won’t see all of that “extra” money in my account after I’m paid.

  27. mbhunter July 20, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    I’d have to get a few $10 checks for one of those :)

  28. Greg McFarlane July 21, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    A 42¢ stamp to mail a $10 check? Sounds like a self-imposed 4.2% service fee to me.

  29. J. Money July 21, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Good deduction!

  30. OdysseusToday July 21, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    I believe the smallest check I have written was for about $1.50. When you got to have that hit of juicy fruit there is no other options!