I love the internet! I mean I really, really love the net. Yes, of course I love my wife Suzanne very much, but I love the internet. Can’t I just marry it too and pledge my everlasting love and devotion?
The internet is always there when I need it (barring a power failure). I thank you batteries and Wi-Fi very much for that. Yes, I can use my laptop or smartphone and take it anywhere I go and that’s a really good thing, isn’t it?
Before the Internet
If you are younger than age 30, you can’t actually remember growing up in an age without the internet like me. For those who are that young, let me tell you it was a very dark period in our history. It was a period where you actually had to look up information in a book to find out facts or even wait ‘til summertime re-runs to watch a missed episode of your favorite TV show.
Can you even imagine being out and about when one of your friends says something you find hard to believe and you don’t have fact checking at your fingertips? It’s true. You were out there all on your own without your friends Siri or Cortana helping you. And you could actually eat an entire meal without talking to your buddy in Cleveland while you dined at the table.
Are you with me so far? I think you are. After all, you feel the way I do and you know the internet is now such an important link in our everyday life in so many areas. Yes, there are internet trolls, and the dark web, and cyber bullying, and other problems, but overall, the internet is truly amazing.
The Internet We Take for Granted
Think about it. Just this brief list off the top of my head tells quite the story.
- Social Media – 24/7 you can connect with people and info from around the world.
- Communications – “Text me” or “e-mail me”, you say it a few hundred times a week and believe me…they will.
- Access to Information – At your fingertips. Encyclopedias died around 1990-something. If you don’t know what they were, just Google it.
- News, Weather, Sports – It’s instantaneous and in real time, can you say “breaking news”?
- Entertainment – From games to movies to music and videos, and of course the latest episode of The Bachelor, a must see!
- Banking – Online banking may be the reason for the demise of the post office. Last year I spent a grand total of $4.90 cents on postage stamps.
- Marketing – Every business in the world has figured out that you are on the net so…simply click here.
- Education – Want to get your college degree? Or learn a new skill? From university classes to webinars and how-to videos, the internet has it all.
- Shopping – Cyber Monday through Sunday and they take all my credit cards, so very convenient.
That’s a great number of things that the internet provides now that we just didn’t have back in the day. But have I left out the area of the biggest impact of all? The mere fact that you are reading this indicates you are a true convert and believer in the new religion known as the internet and its major revolutionary impact on…wait for it…Personal Finance!
Think about this. Personal finance and the entire area of financial education has been turned upside down and on its head over the past 25 years since the internet has been involved in our everyday lives. And its impact is geometrically growing as fast as you can get your speed to 500 megabits per second.
4 Areas Where the Internet Changed your Personal Finance
Here are 4 areas where the net has totally impacted our lives and without it we’d still be in those “dark ages”.
First, with the internet we actually began to talk to each other about that taboo subject, personal finance. It began with the exchange of information between consenting adults, from financial experts to the average Joe. It was the beginning of someone like me starting to understand and learn about literally anything I wanted to know about money and to actually have conversations about things like making my money work for me and what I might do to foster that success. The experts on the net became the gurus of personal finance, a subject which was for the first time becoming very personal and totally accessible.
Blogs and Bloggers
Where would we all be without the next step in guru communications if it were not for blogging? Blogging has become a huge source of information and the blogger is providing opinions, advice, and communications. Blogging has become a real business itself as well as an information source for millions of readers. In fact, the ability to ask questions, comment on what’s written and contribute your own personal experiences has become a central part of the internet today. It has shined a spotlight on personal finance education.
Investments and the Stock Market
Before then internet, the investment markets were really something only a few people understood well and participated in when compared to today. In fact, if you were an investor in stocks and bonds before the 1990, you most definitely dealt with professionals who “advised” you and charged you a pretty penny for the privilege of risking your money with them. It was just the way it was and because of it, many or most of us sat on the sidelines and let the John Paul Getty’s and J.P. Morgan’s dabble and make a fortune investing. It was just not for Mr. Everyday Guy to do that kind of thing.
Boy did that change with the arrival of the internet. The impact of the online broker, the affordable fees, and the information available has made investing an important part of most Americans’ financial education and personal finance plans. It’s easy, quick, and cost effective and doesn’t have the mystique that it had which made the process scary and a feared risk.
There is virtually no information that cannot be obtained in a nanosecond about any kind of investment you may want to know about. You can literally buy, sell, or hold 24/7 online and you may already be doing just that.
Banking and Financial Management
Online banking really has all but replaced the brick and mortar banking experience in just about all cases. In fact, I almost never personally go to the bank because I have so many options available to me through the net that save me both my time and my money.
Besides opening accounts, getting loans, making investments, and managing all of my accounts, I now pay all my bills online. The activities you can perform are literally endless and it’s basically all free if you meet certain relationship requirements. Today, banking is about relationships, albeit “cyber” ones and not as personal as they may have been in your Mom and Dad’s day. But in this world of high speed, high demand culture, the personal in-person banker isn’t as much of a priority as it used to be. What is a priority is getting your business taken care of: cheaply, timely, and with you in control of it all. Online banking and all the trimmings does just that!
If you want to take the notion of banking one step further, there’s the idea of expense tracking and budgeting. Now you have software, spreadsheets, apps, and more to give you better options that ever to manage your finances.
Shopping, Competition and the Cyber Mall
How do you spend your money and shop in the 21st century? Well, I can tell you this much…an awful lot of you are shopping online and that’s a “personal finance” part of life that continues to grow and grow. If you are paying attention at all, you already know that Amazon is a huge factor in the retail world, but that’s just the tip of the cyber iceberg. Every retailer who is anybody has a presence online. And that presence had eroded the “store” at your local mall a ton!
Who would have thought just 25-30 years ago that stores like Sears and Penney’s and so many others would be closing their retail stores at the rate they are and in fact they may be the dinosaurs of the retail world. That’s a direct result of the increase in cyber shopping, its ease, pricing, and low overhead, marketing reach and the strains on the busy consumer’s free time.
Online shopping offers 98% of what in-store experiences did, only without the hassle, battling for a parking spot, and for less money. You do your research, competitive shop, order, return, etc. all from home or work and it’s very easy. It will only become more important as time goes on!
And let’s not forget the ability to comparison shop online, to research and read reviews, and get expert advice and customer support on what you’re buying.
The future is here, especially in the internet world of personal finance and financial education. Learning how to maximize the internet for your finances is not only a great idea, it has quickly become a necessity. Are you doing all you can to keep up with it? If you aren’t, remember that you can do something about your finances if and only when armed with the right information. It’s all there waiting for you. Are you making sure you are accessing all you can to insure your financial success? If so simply say, “I DO”.