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How Finances Have Changed Over 20 Years

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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.

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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 January 27, 2022

5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

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5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

With high standards of education, a multicultural community, and laid-back lifestyle, it’s not hard to see why so many students love Australia. However, one thing Australia is also known for is being the world’s most expensive country to study in as a foreign student.

For those willing to look beyond popular cities like Sydney or Melbourne, however, study abroad doesn’t have to be unaffordable. Check out these five more economical cities that still make for great student living.

1. Gold Coast

If you’re looking for a more affordable place to buckle down and study while still enjoying glorious beaches and a vibrant nightlife, the Gold Coast is an excellent choice. While it has no shortage of restaurants, cafes, bars, and natural attractions, the city is also well-known for its quality of education.

Gold Coast is home to Bond University, which has Australia’s highest rating for overall graduate satisfaction, but also some of the country’s highest tuition fees. Fortunately, it hosts campuses for Griffith University and South Cross University as well, both of which have affordable options for international students.

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When it comes to off-campus accommodation, there are plenty of choices, from shared housing to homestays. Real estate sites like Flatmates can be useful for finding options within your budget.

2. Wollongong

Wollongong’s close proximity to Sydney (80 km) makes it a popular choice for students who can’t afford the high cost of living in Australia’s largest city, but still want to experience all that it has to offer. Wollongong itself is a lively city as well, and is rated as the country’s most livable small city thanks to its gorgeous beaches and lively city centre.

The University of Wollongong is one of Australia’s top universities, with a comprehensive academic program, international research reputation, and high graduate employment rates.

Due to a lack of on-campus parking, most students prefer to walk, cycle, or use the free bus service that operates between the university and city centre. Living costs are quite reasonable in Wollongong, and sites like Gumtree can come in handy if you’re looking to split housing costs or even score some second-hand furniture on arrival.

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3. Hobart

Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the second oldest city in Australia, and also the cheapest city for university students to live in. While it might not be as happening as cities like Gold Coast or Brisbane, its striking natural beauty and slower pace of life make it a great place to block out distractions and focus on studying.

The Hobart Universities sector is based on a single institution, the University of Tasmania, which is consistently rated among the top ten universities in Australia and has a large population of students from abroad, with more than one in five students being international.

Although public transport in Hobart isn’t as convenient as could be, there is plenty of student accommodation available to make up for it. Students often live in shared houses near the university so they can simply walk to class. If you’re looking to rent a shared house or room in the area, Easy Roommate can be a good place to start your search.

4. Adelaide

Of Australia’s major cities, Adelaide is the cheapest to live in. That, along with its spacious layout, clean and green atmosphere, and beachside attractions make it a great place to live and study. It’s also regarded as the food and wine capital of Australia.

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Adelaide has three universities, including the University of Adelaide, which is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide; the University of South Australia; and Flinders University. Its integrated bus, train, and tram transportation system connect all parts of the city and make it easy for students to get around.

Naturally, the cost of accommodation is lower outside the city centre, and depending on which university you’re studying with, the outer suburbs could be more convenient as well. Check Study Adelaide for information on a range of student accommodation options, from independent living to homestays.

5.  Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third largest city. Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, it’s known for being one of the most affordable cities in Australia, which makes it a good choice for students. It’s also known for its pleasant subtropical climate and wide range of entertainment options.

Brisbane has three major universities: the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, and Griffith University (which accepts the most study abroad undergraduates). The inner city is well-connected by public transportation, although cycling is popular as well, and there are plenty of cycle paths that make it easy for students to get around this way.

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Students typically live in and around the inner suburbs, where the bulk of Brisbane’s teaching facilities are located. If you’re looking for convenient accommodation off-campus, you can check sites like Urbanest or The Pad.

Featured photo credit: Bhavesh Patel via unsplash.com

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