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How to Write a Check

I remember walking into the school book fair with a blank check from my parents. The purpose of the oddly shaped paper was unknown to my 8-year-old self, but the value was priceless to me. After having my teacher assist me in writing all the necessary fields, I gave it to the cashier and left with my new arts and crafts book.

Fast forward, I was writing my first check. Without a teacher looking over my shoulder, guiding me through the lines. It was one of the most stressful “Adulting” acts I had ever experienced. The priceless thrill I felt as an 8-year-old turned into fear as I understood now that in this single rectangular piece of banking perforated paper, I was giving someone permission to access my money.  

As most companies nowadays rely on technology for money transfers, it should come as no surprise that recent reports show that checks have been declining significantly in the United States. While this lost transaction art has been felt as early as the 2000s, when more than 40 billion transactions took place with checks to only 20 billion as of October 2012, there is still a need for the paper bank money order.

Fun fact for all of you wire-transferring app-tapping users out there: the decrease in check usage has been tied to a rise in Google searches for “how to write a check.” Regardless of the cause of declining check usage, it is a required and necessary life-skill to properly write a check and understand the required lines.

Junior Achievement is here to help you (and your student) to understand how to fill out a check. Don’t worry, I will be explaining it in the same way my third-grade teacher taught me.

Check writing 101


The check example used above is a check from Junior Achievement’s program JA BizTown®. Through this program, students practice how to (responsibly) keep a checkbook through deposit tickets, recording deposits and of course, the dreaded personal check writing. To give your child the skills they need to succeed, please contact your local Junior Achievement office.

Phillips, Matt. "The Spectacular Decline Of Checks ." The Atlantic. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2018.

"Where Americans Don’T Know How To Write Checks." Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 14 Mar. 2018.

4 Best Money Apps for Your Financial Goals

Which two items do you carry with you nearly 24 / 7?

For most of us, a cell phone and wallet would be the answer.

According to Statista, a total of 197 billion app downloads in 2017. With all the apps being downloaded one would wonder, which ones are helping you?

With only 1-in-3 Americans maintaining a household budget, according to  Gallup, it comes as no surprise that there is an overwhelming number of apps to help you gain control of your finances.

We turned to Investopedia’s published report outlining the 4 Best Personal Finance Apps as of December 2017 to determine which apps are download-worthy.

This is what the experts are saying:


Best App For Managing Your Money 

MINT, Ranked Best App for Managing Your Money

App Strategy: Track all of your earnings and expenses to understand where you’re spending and where you can “cut back”. The app claims you can create budgets, track investments, discover new ways to save, and more.

            Limitations: No investment options

Cost: “Mint is free to download and free to use. Even paying bills with a bank account is always free, though there are fees associated with making payments or using a credit or debit card.  If there is a fee for any payment method or service you choose, we'll tell you.”

            Customer Ratings (According to Investor Junkie):  8.5 / 10


Best App for Getting Out of Debt 

YOU NEED A BUDGET (YNAB), Ranked Best App for Getting Out of Debt

App Strategy: The app claims there are four basic rules that you should follow to have control of your money.

#1. Give Every Dollar a Job

Be intentional about what you’re spending your money on. YNAB advises users to ask themselves, “What should this money do before I’m paid again?”

#2. Embrace Your True Expenses

Realizing the money you have now may need to be used for a larger expense in the future.

#3. Roll with the Punches

When you overspend in one area, you will have to re-allocate money from a different category. Roll with the changes in your expenses.

#4. Age Your Money

“Work toward spending money today that you’ve earned at least a month ago.”

Limitations: paying bills, tracking investments

Cost: Free trial period, then $6.99 a month

Customer Ratings (According to Investor Junkie):  8.5 / 10


Best App for Tracking Expenses 

WALLY, Ranked Best App for Tracking Expenses

App Strategy: This app claims to give a 360° view of your money, as well as tools to understand and achieve your financial goals.

Limitations: Some report the app is not user-friendly, the app doesn’t connect to your actual financial / bank account

Cost: Free

Customer Ratings (According to iTunes Store): 3.8 / 5


Best App for Painless Saving 

ACORNS, Ranked Best App for Painless Saving

App Strategy: You are able to determine how often you want to (micro) invest your money for Acorns to manage with “Round-ups”.

            Limitations: For accounts over $5,000 the app charges .25%

Cost: $1 / month for all accounts under $5,000 and .25% of the balance /year on accounts over $5,000.

            Customer Ratings (According to Nerd Wallet): 3.5/5


Do you have a favorite personal finance app? We want to hear about it! Comment with the name of the app you use and share why you love it!

Disclaimer: Please be sure to thoroughly investigate any money management app you are considering before using. Junior Achievement is sharing third-party reviews of apps but this should not be construed as an endorsement of any app by our organization.  

How to Include Volunteer Work on Your Resume in 2018

Congratulations! After hours of sweat and smiles, you’ve finished your volunteer efforts but how are you going to make them stand out on a resume?  Of course, you could intertwine your experience in your face-to-face interview… or add it to your professional network profile in hopes that your potential new employer will do some “digging” about you, but the question remains -- will it make a lasting impression?

Showcasing your volunteer experience not only can highlight key skills and qualities of you as a person, but it also shows that you would be more likely to take part in a company-wide volunteer effort.

According to a Linkedin survey, 41 percent of respondents consider volunteer effort to be just as valuable as paid work experience when they evaluate potential candidates. Which means, it’s crucial to include it within your professional resume.

Where to Put Your Volunteer Experience 

While updating your resume with volunteer experience, you can either add it under “Related Experience”, “Community Involvement” or a “Skills” section.

For example, if you volunteered with Junior Achievement teaching a JA program at a local school. Your volunteer duties included working side-by-side students to help them understand financial concepts, entrepreneurship and careers.

How to Connect Your Volunteering and Resume 

From this experience, you could state that the skills you gained included: increased confidence and enthusiasm in public speaking, further developed leadership experience by coordinating with the teacher and students, as well as improved ability to think outside the box to relate the concepts to the students.

You may also be able to demonstrate that you are supportive of your employers’ Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, should you volunteer through your current company.

Whether you’re wanting to beef- up your resume or looking to showcase your community involvement, volunteer experience can make as big of an impact on your resume as you did by volunteering.

Money and Millennials: Credit for Beginners

 Credit is like a car, it has to be built before you can get to where you want to go.

Unfortunately, the negative connotation of a credit card prevented me from my forward movement of building credit until I was in my mid-20s. In a way I was fortunate; my car was paid off, my family helped to pay for college and I was renting my apartment. I was living frugally-like my grandfather, whose financial advice was always "don't spend it if you don't have it". 

As surprising as it may seem, my negative outlook was shared by the majority of my generational counterparts. According to a Bankrate survey, more than half (64%) of Americans between 16 to 36 don't own a credit card. Which sparked the question of "Why not?". Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth and co-author of The Millennial Money Fix, states, "Millennials have been stigmatized by debt… They've witnessed firsthand the effects that mishandling debt can bring." 

The idea of a young 20-year-old having a spending limit of a few thousand dollars would make anyone nervous! Which was why I was saving each paycheck for my future home, paying rent, and creating a monthly budget. That was until I had to take my dog, Finley, to the vet for an emergency. One doggie prescription, a massive vet bill and a “digestive condition” diagnosis later and Finley was back to his normal self. Unfortunately, it had cost me a decent portion of my first-home savings. 

I turned to the two wisest people I know, my mom and dad. While they had their own credit card horror stories to share from their 20's, it turned out there was more to a credit card than just the "priceless" tear-jerker commercials. Most cards have perks like rewards, credit score reports, fraud/ theft protection, as well as my personal favorite-- budgeting tools, easily accessible on their mobile app. Not to mention, when used with self-control, they can provide a financial seat-belt for when an emergency strikes-- like an unexpected vet bill. 

Cruising for a credit card online wasn't as easy as I thought. I didn't have any credit history which eliminated the majority of the options that were out there. At last, after swerving around the application barrier, I was ready to hit the credit-building highway. I submitted the online application form and a week later, I received my stylish blue card. 

Today, it's been a little over a year since I started my credit journey. I am happy to report there haven't been any (emotional or financial) break-downs nor have I "totaled" my savings account. 

Today, as I look ahead to the future, I realize the journey of building the necessary credit to be considered for a home loan will be a long one, but I know it will all be worth it once I pull into my own driveway. 


Meyersohn, Nathaniel. "Millennials Aren't Opening Credit Cards. That's A Mistake." CNNMoney. N. p., 2018. Web. 8 Feb. 2018. 

DONUT Mess with Junior Achievement

Students from Oakwood, an elementary school located in Portland, Oregon, combined entrepreneurship with a craving for breakfast to create the Sweet O's Donut Shop.

Through JA Our Community, the Oakwood students learned the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce, as well as how citizens contribute to a community's success. By identifying careers, understanding taxation, and government services, as well as the flow of money within a community, the 100 second-grade students determined their next step for their startup donut company.

These young elementary entrepreneurs got a taste of starting a company when their Principal used her community connections to introduce the students to Tom's Food Center to help them turn their business dreams into a sweet reality.

Steven Antaya, vice-president of Tom's Food Center, pitched the students with a business offer they couldn't refuse. He told the students that if they created a sign to market their product, he would set up a table at the store and sell the donuts at his store.

Deborah Smith, vice-president of education for JA of the Michigan Great Lakes reflected, "We wanted the kids to see that it really does happen in real life and that they are only in second grade, but their ideas matter. This is a wonderful opportunity and the kids are super-excited. They think now they're going to be famous."

Through community involvement, Oakwood's second-graders turned a delicious concept into a reality and got a lifelong taste of entrepreneurship.


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