The Internet and mobile devices have greatly reduced our need even to set foot in a bank after the day we open an account. Online banking software is so powerful that some people even choose to use Internet-based banks such as Charles Schwab and ING Direct. Websites like Mint.com consolidate your credit cards, debts, and bank accounts onto one screen for easy personal finance management at the click of a button. It wasn’t always this way. Banking was once a much more complicated and often in-person experience, the hallmarks of which we remember below.
Before Dedit Cards
Anyone remember using a check book? MSN Money reports that many stores don’t even take checks anymore, but before the universally accepted debit/credit card, checks were a customer’s only alternative to paper money. “Your first checkbook used to be a rite of passage,” they recall. “Today it’s a relic.”
With the check book came the arduous and often-neglected chore of balancing it. In order to stay on top of the checks you wrote and the remaining balance in your account, you had to remember to take a moment after every transaction and deduct the check from your total balance. Though most people tried to make the time to do so, every now and then a rushed moment or an absent mind caused a check to be missed, which sometimes resulted in a check bouncing (or not clearing due to a low balance) later on in the month.
Before Direct Deposit
Direct deposit turned every payday into play day, because it allows employers to electronically deposit an employee’s pay into his or her account without issuing a check. This innovation ensures that payment arrives on the exact same day every week or month (depending on your pay schedule) and allows you to schedule bill paying, shopping, and nights out far in advance without wondering how long it would take for your check to clear.
Before direct deposit, workers crowded into banks in and around payday to deposit their checks into their accounts. A deposit slip (a foreign concept to some young all-electronic bankers) needed to be filled out with account numbers and amount of the check, and then all the worker could do is wait for the money to clear.
Before Automatic Bill Pay
Automatic bill pay allows every recurring bill you owe, from your rent to your cell phone, to be deducted straight from your bank account on the same date each month without you even having to think about it. This helpful advancement can save your credit score, eliminate fees for late payments, and take away the stress of having to remember when each bill is due. Before this technology, it was the duty of any responsible adult to remember the exact due date of every bill they had to pay, and how far in advance they should send the check to avoid having it arrive late. Because of this, the occasional late fee was a regular reality for the busy bill payer before automatic pay.