Once you have a paycheck, it’s time to open a checking account. A checking account is a bank account that you can use by writing a check or using a debit card. Some banks charge monthly fees for these accounts, others don’t.
A bank account helps you in several ways. It’s much less expensive than going to a check cashing place. It keeps your money safe where only you can get it. It helps you start a financial history, which can be useful later in life to pay for big expenses like a new car or house.
To open a checking account, you must first choose a bank. It’s probably a good idea to choose one that has a branch, or at least an ATM, close to your home, school or work. You can take a look at their website to get an idea of what kind of accounts are available, and what kind of fees they have. Right now, you’ll probably find that a basic checking account meets your needs.
Once you’ve chosen a bank, visit it to open an account. You’ll probably need to sign in and talk to a banker. They will need to see some ID, like a driver’s license or a state ID, your social security number, and proof of your address. Call ahead and ask exactly what you’ll need.
When your account is open, you’ll be able to put money in (deposit) and take it out (withdrawal). Whether you withdraw cash, write a check, or use your debit card, you can only spend money that is in your account. Spending money that you don’t have (“bouncing a check”) is called an “overdraft” and your bank will charge you a fee for doing it. Some banks have online programs and apps you can use on your phone to see how much money you have in your account and help avoid spending more money than you have.