The internet has changed the way that we do almost everything, from shopping to learning languages, and managing our finances is no exception to that. There are many different services and products available to us, and we can connect globally with companies to improve our finances and the way that we handle them.
One of the biggest changes has been the movement to online banking in the last few decades. The idea was first introduced and experimented on within the 1980s but it wasn’t until the late 90s after the Internet had become more mainstream, that it took off. In Great Britain alone, approximately 14 million adults opened an account with a digital-only bank from 2020-21, and even more use their bank’s mobile application exclusively. Many physical bank branches have been shut down because of this, however, it has led to the development of online banking technology, allowing users to cash cheques at home, transfer money more easily, and keep an eye on their spending.
Another thing that has changed is our ability to check prices and compare deals across different brands. With accessibility and variety comes a lot of different information, with every company claiming to have the best deals. One perk of the internet is that you can compare these different offers and services efficiently with price comparison sites, such as mortgage brokers like Trussle. Their website allows you to not just compare prices but actually uses an online mortgage calculator to see how much you could borrow. Sites like this make it easier to wade through lots of information and offers, and can all be done from the comfort of your home, much like online banking – convenience is key. Sites such as this also offer various guides for those wanting to find out more information.
Saving money is a little more complicated. We are very open to new forms of social media marketing and more products are accessible to us, which leads many of us to make ‘impulse’ purchases and lose track of what we’re spending because we’re not physically handing over cash. However, there are several online aids, such as browser extensions. These apps, for example, Honey or PriceBlink, are downloaded (generally for free) and attach to your browser to do the work of saving for you. As soon as you enter a compatible site, the app will look for discount codes and vouchers that will hopefully save you money. These are applied at the checkout and make it a lot easier to find deals on products that you wanted to buy anyway.
The sense of control that individuals feel over their personal finances has increased as the management of them move from offices in accountants’ buildings to a mobile phone in our hands, particularly for the self-employed. Small business owners and freelance workers now have applications available to them that will help keep a track of income, costs, tax, and much more. This is definitely a positive because it means that more people are likely to create new businesses and markets diversify – as soon as the fear factor is taken out of financial management, it becomes far more attractive.
It’s clear that the internet has done a lot in terms of financial management, and it will be interesting to see where it takes us in the future – we may have hologram bankers in the year 2050…