Thursday, December 21, 2006

Paperless Checking?!?!

ING Direct just launched a new product: Electric Orange. It’s a totally paperless checking account. That’s right, people. No Paper Checks. They even say in their FAQ, “Please don’t go and get checks from a third party provider – we won’t accept them.”

No paper statement, no paper checks, no paper anything. In fact! It is opened over the wire through an existing account (hence I cannot give you a link to the new product – you have to be logged into your account to see the details), so there isn’t even all that goo-gah you usually have when opening a checking account: “Sign here, here, initial, sign, initial, here, here, there, aaaaaaaand here!”


I’m just…well, I’m not sure about this. I say this as a person who has written less than five paper checks in the last twelve months: I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of paper checks. What about the babysitter? What about school deals, the three to five buck deals here or there? I never have precisely three one dollar bills in my wallet, not ever. Sure, they say you can have a paper check sent by first class mail to anyone you like…but that’s not the same as handing them a check right that very minute, you know?

Yet, the vast – overwhelming, even – majority of the checking account transactions I do are a) online or b) via debit card. I don’t carry my checkbook with me everywhere I go, and when I write a check I invariably spend a good thirty minutes sifting through my desk looking for the wretched thing. (My desk is a kind of space-time warp engine. I swear to Dog, I can spend an hour cleaning it off, get it all pristine and clear of detritus, walk into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and return to find it vanished beneath eighteen inches of paper, yarn balls, medicine bottles, knitting needles, computer cables and cat food samples. AND WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A CAT ANYMORE!!!)

They are tempting me with two things: instant transfer from my savings account, and 3% interest on my checking account money while it waits to be spent.

I operate on a monthly cycle in the Den. As we earn money, it goes into the savings account. Doesn’t matter what the source of the money is, it all goes into the savings account.

Once a month, the satellites link up and fire a set amount from the savings to the checking. This is a beautiful system, by the way, and can work even if you aren’t a month ahead of yourself, savings-wise. That’s actually how we got to this point: We don’t pay our bills based on our income, we pay them based on our budget. As we cut our budget and increased our income, viola! Savings! But that’s another long, involved blog entry for another day…

Since I migrated to higher interest at a different bank for the savings, it takes two to four days for the money to get from there to here, depending on how on the ball the receiving institution is. Every once in a blue moon, my receiving institution sprains its ankle and takes even longer to catch the ball. Hence, I tend to have to do my transfer well in advance of my need (read as, losing a few days interest I shouldn’t have to lose) and leave a buffer in the account at all times in case (see ‘losing interest’ gripe above).

Instant transfer would mean I could leave it at the higher rate longer; and I wouldn’t mind earning 3% on that money while it sat there waiting to be spent. Roughly half is gone within hours of transfer, but the other half just sort of languishes, being slowly whittled away.

But still…no checks? No checks at all? It all has to be done electronically?! That’s just…kinda…weird, man, weird! Kind of space-age, kind of like…people walking around in stark white clothing discussing Socrates while waiting for the hover-bus.

And yet, it appeals to me for that very reason.

We’re always yapping about reducing paper, trying to ‘save trees’ and environmental blah blah blah…and yet we cling to it. Like that coworker who prints out every single email she ever gets and refuses to ever throw one away, or the way we hold onto old bank statements and such decades longer than we strictly need do.

I may just go for this.

If I can pry my psyche off my checkbook.


froggiemeanie said...

So THAT's where my cat food samples went! Hey, maybe you own this set of Christmas lights that I found on my desk. No? How 'bout these shoes? Comb? Cook book? Empty ink cartridge?

Very Herodotus said...

I found a wine stopper in my junk drawer the other night, and I had to explain to my husband what it was. He was dumbfounded that someone would open a bottle of wine and not finish it!

How do you pay a babysitter without a checkbook?

21st Century Mom said...

I'm totally sold except for the part where I need to write a check once in a while. Can you print checks out on your computer?

Anonymous said...

When my sons openned their checking accounts, they were asked if they wanted to order checks. The boys just looked at them as if the had grown a second head. Only old people use actual paper checks.

My one son did actually use one check, to set up direct deposit of his paycheck.

KMK said...

Is this available everywhere? I have an ING savings account and haven't heard anything about it. Unless it was in that email I deleted without reading...

Is it too complicated to think of keeping a "paper" checking account open with minimum balance just for those babysitter type situations?

Moira said...

So yes they you can write paper checks and they will send them whoever needs the paper checks... I went ahead and signed up...
I think its cool