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Drop-off in Check Writing Shows Generational Differences in Financial Matters

A small percentage of people stick to writing checks, despite its seemingly inconvenient nature.

Check-writing may be dying, but it isn’t dead yet, according to the Wall Street Journal.More “old school” that paying with cash, a small percentage of consumers still clings to their checkbook.


It’s not just Millennials and Gen Z who rarely pay with checks. A large amount of older generations has also made the switch over to pay with credit and debit cards exclusively. Even though paying bills with checks might not be a totally foreign concept for Millennials, since many of them write check after check for their student loan payments, they would never even consider carrying around a checkbook for everyday purchases.

But there are still a stalwart few who use checks daily, even at the grocery store.

For people who stick to checks, the act of recording the payment in a checkbook while standing in line is a sign of good financial hygiene. But in the era of increasingly mobile and electronic payments including methods such as Venmo, chip readers, and Paypal, check writing is seen as a scourge and overall inconvenience in the grocery line.

Carrying and frequently using a checkbook is even more mystifying to Millennials and Gen Z than paying with cash, a practice which has also dropped in popularity recently.

But is paying with check even that much safer? According to the Wall Street Journal those who track the way people pay for purchases say there is no real evidence that paying with a check is any more secure than other forms of payment, especially because the routing number of the account is printed on the check.

In any case, it’s by far the slowest means of payment (unless you’re the type that pays with exact change). Transactions involving checks typically take 67 seconds to complete, compared with 25 seconds for cash, 24 seconds for credit cards and 20 seconds for debit cards, Lori Fontaine, an industrial engineer who works with retailers, told the WSJ.

There’s probably no easy way to convince the check-writers over to the card and digital side, just like you’d be hard pressed to convince a Millennial to carry around a checkbook for their daily latte. However, it will certainly be interesting to witness how the changing technology and increased mobile security has an effect on Baby Boomers’ payment preferences.

Would you pay for groceries with a check? Join the conversation on Twitter at @JasonDorsey or @WhatTheGen and don’t forget to add your #generation!

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