Cash or cheque?

Money Queen

Money Queen (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I looked at my first full-time payslip in disbelief. More money in one month than it would take me all year to earn on my paper round. At that precise moment, I felt rich. What am I going to do with all that money?

It’s a shame that every payslip doesn’t come with that feeling. Unfortunately, as time goes on, we get mortgages and cars and other such commitments to mop up all that disposable income. Money felt very different to me back then.

It was more difficult to get at for starters. To make a withdrawal, you had to actually go to the branch. I can’t remember the last time I went to a bank branch. Once in the branch, you had to queue up to see a teller. Once you reached the front of the queue, you wrote out a cheque to yourself, handed it over and in return, they gave you some cash. You could only get cash during your bank’s extremely limited opening hours which meant that almost everyone went at lunchtime. That meant the queues were enormous.

Along came the ATM. Suddenly with your plastic card and a PIN number, you could get your cash when you liked. At first, you were limited to your bank’s own branches still, but it was progress. Mine had a weekly limit of £50 which was just too low to eliminate the tedious trips to the branch.

If you wanted to pay someone else some money, you would write them a cheque. For it to be worth the paper it was written on, it needed to be backed by a cheque guarantee card. I can’t remember the last cheque I wrote out but for some strange reason, my cheque book still lives in the back pocket of whichever trousers I happen to have on. Old habits die-hard.

I remember applying for my first loan. It was for the princely sum of £2,000 to buy a new car. I had to go down to the branch for an interview with the bank manager. I remember dressing up smartly and turning up early, eager to make a good impression. That was over 20 years ago and was probably one of the last times I ever saw a bank manager.

Today, I can pay for my tube ticket with a swipe of my card. I can lend money out to other people without ever leaving my armchair. From that same armchair, I can place bets or invest in the stock market. Some would say that they are one and the same thing. I can also launch a project and ask strangers to invest in it. I can find almost anything I want on the Internet and pay for it there and then. I could probably list off half a dozen different ways to pay someone some money. I bought my last house without seeing a soul (apart from the estate agent).

And yet, despite all that, our financial system seems very antiquated. I still have a pocketful of change and a wallet full of paper money. If I go to a different country, I need to change those coins and notes for different ones. I have a number of plastic cards, each with their own provider, credit limit and statements. I probably have accounts with dozens of institutions, from Amazon and eBay, through to utility companies and banks.

If I want to work out exactly where I am with everything, it’s up to me to collate all the information and do so. I can’t wait for the day when all I carry is my phone and I’m able to see everything about my finances in one place without breaking sweat. Maybe one day.

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One comment on “Cash or cheque?

  1. Pingback: List of Cheque Return Reasons – Both for Instrument and Image-based Cheque Clearing | Simple Financial Mantras

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