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How Finances Have Changed Over 20 Years

How Finances Have Changed Over 20 Years

People like to joke about “when I was your age,” but the fact remains that the cool, rebellious grunge kids of Generation X have grown up into the responsible 30 and 40-somethings of today. They will be the last generation to handle finances in the old pen-and-paper way, and while these changes have unfolded gradually over some years, it’s sometimes jarring to think about how money was handled “when I was your age.” Consider the way these things have significantly changed:

Paying Bills

20 Years Ago: That checkbook that you keep shoved in a drawer? 20 years ago, that checkbook was your lifeline; you needed it to pay and mail every bill, making record keeping utterly important, as well as a large supply of stamps to send all those payments in.

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Today: How do you want to pay your bills? Today, the choice is up to you. You can use the old way of sending a check. You can keep a credit card on file for automatic payment. You can send your bank or credit union account and routing numbers to your online account for payment. You can also use various services such as PayPal or your financial institution’s billpay system. Digital banking is all about flexibility.

Keeping Records

20 Years Ago: Checkbooks weren’t just used for writing checks. Two decades ago, the checkbook was also the place you kept all your records. The phrase “balancing my checkbook” meant actually compiling all of the deposits and debits to see if the numbers made sense, and if they matched up with your monthly statement. It was the manual way to make sure you didn’t overdraft or get things out of place with your finances. Records of your checks were either written as line-items on your checkbook’s ledger or with carbon copies of each check, or even both.

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Today: Financial institutions have a secure online portal now that allows instant access to real-time records and a scanned archive of your deposited checks. Records may even be accessible on your smartphone, as many banks now have apps for financial management.

Getting Paid

20 Years Ago: Direct deposit was in its infancy, and for many people, you still got a physical check every two weeks. Depending on where you worked, your check was either mailed to you, or distributed at your office; that usually meant a trip to the branch rather than simply knowing it was electronically transmitted (an entire episode of the cult 1990s show The X-Files used rushing to the bank as the basis of its plot), and if you lost the physical check, it could take time to receive a replacement.

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Today: Wherever you work, you simply fill out a form with your information (account and routing number) and your paycheck magically appears in your account upon payment. This saves loads of time and effort since you don’t have to go to the branch, though it’s still worth it to regularly check and make sure there’s nothing funny going on with your deposits. Many institutions now allow for check scanning via a smartphone app as a means of deposit as well.

The Little Things

20 Years Ago: Cash was a common thing. In your wallet, on the entryway’s side table, change in your pocket – all of these places would be sensible ideas for keeping coins and a buck or two. Simply put, you never knew when you were going to need it. At the same time, you’d still have to be on guard with it because unlike digital transactions, cash could be stolen. Cash was the go-to for so many things, from simply paying for items at the store, to leaving a tip for service. If you didn’t have enough with you, tough beans, you weren’t buying it that day.

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Today: Modern finances make cash practically obsolete, though there’s certainly something practical in keeping some around. You can pay entirely by credit card, including tip, at most places. You can split the tab with friends using apps, you can pay bridge tolls through electronic sensors, and many vending machines and parking meters take cards, at least in major metro areas.

What’s Stayed the Same

The way we pay and make records of our finances has changed wildly in the digital age, but one thing remains constant: you need to be smart about how you handle your finances. In fact, it’s probably easier to give into spending temptation when everything fits on a card or you don’t have tangible cash to use (there’s been a study on this). You still need to manage your accounts, you still need to look at sound ways of investing, and you still should consider things like credit unions as a means of financing with better interest rates. These notions existed 20 years ago, and they’ll continue to exist 20 years in the future, despite however technology evolves the means of transaction.

Featured photo credit: jarmoluk via pixabay.com

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Bill Prichard

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at CO-OP Financial Services

How Finances Have Changed Over 20 Years

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

Summertime can be a real strain on your wallet. The sun is out, there are people to see, places to be; it’s no wonder you might be short of funds during these sunny months. Not everything has to cost you an arm and a leg.

Take some time to go through this list of 20 cheap summer activities and make some realistic goals to complete as many as you can.

Video Summary

1. Visit a strawberry festival

Summer is prime time for tasting strawberries. More often than not, an area that grows strawberries will have a strawberry festival. Indulge yourself in strawberry pies, jams, cakes and more!

2. Have a picnic

Take your partner or your family to the local park and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Designate each person to bring one food item of their choice to add to the fun.

3. Camp in your back yard

    The summer heat can sometimes make it hard to sleep. Why not enjoy the heat outside in the yard? Pitch a tent or gaze into the night sky.

    4. Take long walks

    Discover something new where you live. Take the afternoon off from your chores and go for a long walk. You may be surprised by what you discover.

    5. Break a world record

    Breaking a world record doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You could even break one on your lunch hour. Give it a go!

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    6. Go on a bike ride

    The number of bike paths on roads in big cities has increased dramatically over the years. Take advantage, and enjoy the summer breeze.

    7. Join a gym class

      The gym is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but why not go with a friend a join a class? Spinning, yoga and step classes are always more fun with friends, and a lot of gyms allow you to pay-as-you-go.

      8. Find a new hobby

      The summer is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Serotonin (our body’s natural “happy” hormone) is produced by the sunshine and will be at a yearly high, which is great for when we want to tackle something new.

      9. Join a sports team

      Not all sports teams are competitive and require huge amounts of your time. Join in the fun with like-minded people, get fit, stay healthy and make some friends along the way.

      10. Make a slip ‘n slide

        Gather your friends, some plastic sheeting, a hose, washing up liquid if desired, and make a huge slip ‘n slide just like these guys. Granted, yours won’t be as big, but you get the idea… it’s fun!

        11. Make a treasure hunt for your kids

        Today’s digital world sees our children more often than not playing inside than outside. Why not create a sense of adventure by making a treasure hunt? Only rule? It has to be outside.

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        12. Visit a free festival

        Towns and cities are awash with free festivals, with themes from film to science. Scout your local area and discover something new.

        13. Visit the zoo

          Let’s face it: we love animals. While browsing news websites and social media networks you’re bound to come across a few pictures of cats. Take a trip to your local zoo for a better experience.

          14. Take a road trip

          Enjoy the open road with a few friends and take a road trip somewhere–anywhere. Just go out and enjoy the sunshine!

          15. Play ultimate frisbee in the park

            Frisbee is always great fun down the park, but why not turn it into more of a competitive sport by playing ultimate frisbee?

            16. Make your own ice cream

            Ice cream is a very versatile dessert. Make a sandwich, enjoy a cone, or simply just enjoy a bowl full. Better yet, making your own ice cream allows you to create any flavor you want.

            17. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ

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              When was the last time you invited your neighbors over? Do you even know them? Now’s your chance. Just ask each person to bring a food item so costs don’t mount up for you.

              18. Get a summer job

              For many students, summer is the time for relaxation and fun. But who said earning money and being productive isn’t fun? You only get out what you put into a situation.

              19. Attend a charity event

              Attending a charity event is a great way to raise funds and awareness for a cause, meet new people, and generally have a good time. Search for your local charity event today.

              20. Visit a national park

              National parks are a great way to explore nature and learn something new. You could even volunteer and make a difference in helping restore natural habitats.

              21. Visit your local comedy club

                Local comedy clubs are extremely underrated. They are cheap to attend and no doubt you’ll have a barrel of laughs.

                22. Make your own hammock

                  Hammocks are very relaxing, are perfect for summer afternoons and are surprisingly easy to make.

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                  23. Read in your new hammock

                  Now you have your very own hammock, the only thing left to do is enjoy it. Grab your favorite book and read to your heart’s content.

                  24. Watch a movie outside

                  Movies are great. Relaxing outside in the evening is great. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect combination. In D.C, Maryland and Virginia this summer, for example, you can enjoy a huge number of movies outside.

                  25. Take a hike

                    Hikes are a great way to keep fit and see more of Mother Nature. There are countless trails available for you to explore. Why not try some this summer?

                    26. Learn how to fly a kite

                    As a child, you probably had a kite and haven’t touched it since. Why not dust it off and attempt to fly it? It’s tricky, but well worth the challenge.

                    27. Work out at the park

                    American cities are full of parks with ample space for a work out session. No doubt you’ll be happier to work out in the sun rather than a crowded gym.

                    28. Take your dog to the beach

                      One of the many joys of owning a dog is taking him or her for long walks during the summertime. This joy is enhanced when visiting the beach, for both you and your dog.

                      29. Make a summer smoothie

                      Healthy, delicious and perfect for the summer. Not only that, there are countless recipes ready for you to try.

                      30. Attend a free yoga session at the beach

                      No experience needed and all skill levels are welcome. Take yourself and a buddy down to the beach and try some yoga. You’ve got nothing to lose!

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