Dear lady in front of me at the grocery store: No one writes checks anymore.
The usage of checks as a payment system has plummeted in the U.S. in recent years. In 2000, checks were used in more than 40 billion transactions, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve’s Cash Products Office. That number is down to less than 20 billion, according to the Fed’s most recent numbers, which are based on a survey conducted in October 2012.
When it comes to American payment preferences, checks run a distant fourth. (At least when you measure the overall number of transactions. Checks are used for about 19 percent of the value of all purchases, slightly higher than debit or credit cards.)
Yeah. Seeing somebody write a check is such an oddity these days that it sorta sticks with you. It's amazing how annoying it is to be in line behind somebody when they whip out the checkbook: Hey, don't you know that will take precicous seconds out of my life!
When people talk about the changes in our lives in recent years, they usually stick to the big things -- smart phones, computers and the like. But some of the smallests things, like the disappearance of the checkbook, can have the biggest effects.
I think I'm down to writing about three or four checks a year. I resisted the debit card for a long time, but my sister finally talked me into it, and my life hasnn't been the same since. Who knew they'd even accept it at the fast-food driveup window? And paying bills electronically takes me about 20 minutes. Going through the whole writing-checks routine used to take me hours.