Bank Deposits and Working Remotely

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This may be my best/worst humblebrag ever.

I’m traveling in Europe for four months, and sometimes checks arrive at the mailing service I use to receive my mail while I’m gone. It’s a problem to get all those checks deposited into my account.

By the way, the humblebrag doesn’t work. It just makes you hate me. The Harvard Business Review has a working paper on the topic—“Humblebragging: A Distinct—and Ineffective—Self-Presentation Strategy“—which explains how this sort of thing alienates people.

Having read the article, I know to avoid the humblebrag as much as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes when you’re wandering in Europe for months at a time, drinking German beer and such, the humblebrag just slips right out. What can I do?

So while I’m in Europe and money flows in and I have all of these checks to deposit, what’s a lawyer to do?

3 Ways to Deposit Checks While Traveling

What are my options?

  1. Pay the mail processing company $10 to mail the check to my bank (it’s USAA in Texas). It’s happy to mail it for me, and the funds show up in my account in less than a week. That’s what I was doing until I figured out a much better way.
  2. Mail the check to me. I can have the mail processor mail the check to me in Europe or to my office in Raleigh. Then, either I can deal with the check or I can have someone in the office do it for me. It’s difficult for me to receive mail while I’m on the road, and it’s expensive to have the office process the checks. Plus, I have to pay the mailing company about $3 to send it.
  3. This cool little trick I’m about to pass along. Which is what I’m doing now.

I’m meeting lots of other nomads while I’m on the road. The idea of giving away all your stuff, simplifying your life down to a carry-on bag, and working remotely is wildly popular. I had dinner with a dozen nomads last week in Berlin, and I’m meeting new people every day in co-working offices and cafés.

One of the guys I met last week, an early-30s CEO of an Internet company, showed me a cool solution to the check-depositing problem. He lets his mailing company scan the check as part of its regular processing of his mail. Then he shoots a picture of the check right off his laptop screen and uses the remote deposit feature of his bank. Boom. Done. Fantastic idea.

So I’ve now done it. I’ve deposited a scanned check right off the screen. Amazing. I’ve been depositing checks via my iPhone app for years. However, I haven’t ever done it without having a physical copy of the check. That is, I hadn’t done it until yesterday.

Making a Deposit Without a Physical Check in 7 Steps

So here’s the drill:

  1. Have your mail processor (I use St. Brendan’s Isle) scan your incoming check.
  2. Review the image of the check on your laptop screen.
  3. Take an existing blank check (or a blank piece of paper) and do the required endorsement on that page. I simply took a check-sized piece of paper and wrote “For Deposit Only to USAA Account number #####” and signed below.
  4. Whip out your bank mobile application on your phone and open the mobile deposit feature. If your bank doesn’t allow mobile deposits, it’s time to switch banks.
  5. Shoot a picture of the check image you got from the mailing processor right off your screen while using your bank’s app. Do it in a place with minimal glare.
  6. Shoot a picture of the back of the check (the paper one you doctored).
  7. Hit the button, and off it goes.

That’s it. Your money is now in the bank. I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I’m not sure why I’m so excited about it. In retrospect, it’s obvious that it should work just like having the paper, but I just hadn’t thought of it. Now I’ll do it forever for those annoying checks that show up from people who won’t do direct deposits (my health and dental insurance and a few others).

So now, while I’m in Europe, Asia, South America, or on some random beach somewhere else, I won’t be stressed by being unable to deposit all the money flowing into my mailbox. Problem solved.

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