How finances have changed over time

May 7, 2019


By Esmée Hardwick-Slack



The last two decades will be remembered as a period of incredible progression and innovation. Twenty years ago mobile phones were a rarity rather than a necessity, self-driving cars were only in sci-fi films, and people would look at you like you were mad if you answered their question with “Google it”. Technology has moved at an alarming rate, with many of these changes affecting the way we handle our finances.



Back in the day, paying bills meant posting a cheque, popping to your local bank branch, or visiting the service providers in person. That chequebook you keep in the kitchen drawer was much more than just clutter.

Nowadays, digital banking has given us plenty of options when deciding how to pay our bills. You can set up direct debits, transfer your money electronically, or you can make use of various services such as PayPal and other bill paying software. Digital banking is incredibly flexible, and with the majority of banks introducing mobile apps you can pay your bills from just about anywhere (and save on stamps).



20 years ago many people were still paid by paper cheque, received either in the post or handed out at your place of work. This often meant you’d have to make a trip to the bank to deposit it, ensuring you didn’t misplace it on the way!

These days, you simply fill out a one-time form with your bank details, hand it over to HR, and wait for your wages to be transferred into your account on payday.


Keeping Records

Chequebooks weren’t just for wages and paying bills, they were also where you would keep all of your records. Balancing your chequebook meant compiling all of your deposits and debits to ensure all the numbers matched up with your monthly statement. Records of your cheque were either written as line-items in your chequebook’s ledger or with copies of each cheque.

These days it’s hard to imagine having to manually make sure your finances are all in place. Most financial institutes now have secure online portals which allow instant access to your records and deposited cheques. These records can also be easily accessed from anywhere on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.



Years ago, cash was the go-to for the majority of purchases, everything from your food shopping to leaving tips at a restaurant. You’d have notes in your wallet and coins in every coat pocket, never knowing when you’d need some spare change.

In 2019, there’s no need to make sure you’ve got cash on you. According the UK Finance, the number of debit card payments in the UK in 2017 was greater than the number of cash payments for the first time. Contactless payments have been a massive contributor to the fall of cash. Introduced in 2007, the early days of contactless payments were confined to coffee shops and sandwich chains, however, the use of contactless has increased significantly. As of April 2017, there were more than 108 million contactless cards in issue in the UK, suggesting that we could soon become a cashless society.


What do you think the biggest change to finances has been in recent years? Has it affected the way you do business? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on our Twitter and Facebook pages.


Related articles:

How to save money

Should the UK become a cashless society?

Finance options: a guest blog by Connect Yorkshire’s Nick Butler


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