Your checking account is the money you keep at the bank to use whenever you need it - either through checks, or by taking it out at the money machine (Automated Teller Machine). Because the money in your checking account has to be there whenever you want it, checking accounts are also called demand deposits.

When you write someone a check, they can trade that check for cash, either at your own bank or at their bank. Or they can deposit the check into their own checking account. From the numbers on your check, their bank will know how to get the money from your account at your bank.

If you write a check without having enough money in your checking account, your bank will refuse to pay the check, and will send it back to the person you gave it to. This is called "bouncing" a check. It makes everyone unhappy. You'll still owe the person you wrote the check to, and you will probably have to pay extra money to them and to your own bank. Have you ever been caught telling a lie? Bouncing a check feels like that; it's very embarrassing!

Lets examine the front of a check.