There is no disputing that direct deposits and pre-authorized withdrawals have made personal finances much simpler.
Even if I am on vacation or feeling under the weather, it no longer matters if I am in the office on pay day. The money shows up in my account and shortly thereafter, the money comes out for the mortgage and utilities. (Easy come, easy go!) It is certainly convenient and saves me from standing in line to go pay the bills in person.
But in adopting this convenience, have we also phased out unique moments of joy? Are we missing out on moments to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the incentive for why we work to earn a living?
Do you remember the thrill of your first job and getting paid for the first time? That was a feeling of power, wasn’t it? And do you remember the fleeting sense of financial independence and going to spend it on pizza, clothes, shoes, camera gear and journals… or maybe that was just me.
But the point is that there was a natural ebb and flow to earning, saving and spending. Receiving a paycheque was validating, rewarding and made me feel like I really made a contribution. The ritual of walking up to a teller or a bank machine and depositing this piece of paper that was the result of two weeks of blood, sweat and tears actually made me happy. It was also a motivator.
But now, with direct deposit and automatic withdrawals going on autopilot, I barely remember what week is pay week anymore.
A fond memory from the early years of my career, working as an assistant, was when the secretary was not in the office, I would be the one tasked with distributing the envelopes containing the paycheques. The warm reception and the smiles on people’s faces were something I will never forget. I even remember thinking to myself that this is what “spreading sunshine” is all about, making people happy like this.
But that didn’t compare to the day that overtime cheques came in. You want to see happy faces… those were the days to hand out the “envelopes”!
On payday, the overall mood of the office just seemed lighter.
When we made the transition from paycheques to paystubs, when they made us go to direct deposit, that all changed. Gone was the ceremony of handing out the envelopes. That unique lighter mood that everyone felt every two weeks seemed to go extinct as it became just another workday.
Payday was never the same again.
But with that new convenience, even the ritual of paying bills changed. Before automatic withdrawals, I would actually enjoy the act of sitting down at my desk, pulling out my chequebook and writing out cheques to pay for my rent, my telephone, my electricity and my credit card bills. The moment I dropped those bills in the slot of the mailbox, I had a great sense of relief and satisfaction that I was on top of my finances and that I was a responsible adult meeting his commitments.
I liked it! It was a confidence builder!
With automatic withdrawals, I get an email telling me how much will come out on what date.
Spreading sunshine? That would be a stretch.
Satisfying? Not so much.
Tangible? Even less.
I am not suggesting for a moment that we should go back to paper for routine transactions like this. The convenience of today is something I could not even have dreamed of the day I got my first paycheque. I wouldn’t go back.
I just wonder if in the transition from paper to paperless, we forgot to mourn the loss of a moment of joy and gratitude for a job well done, to enjoy the fruits of our labour and to bond as a team.
The next time a direct deposit notice comes in, don’t forget to take a moment to pat yourself on the back and say to yourself, “Yay!”
You deserve it!
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7 responses to “Electronic Transactions, Missed Opportunities?”
Andre, I find more and more as electronics continue to creep into our daily routines, it’s not just the spreading of sunshine but the loss of human interaction. Yes there were times standing in the bank on payday was annoying due to everybody being paid the same day, but you got to know the tellers, in some cases they became good acquaintances. They got to know your routine and what you needed to do. Know we stand in front of an machine to obtain our cash, pay our bills, transfer between accounts. It is only when something out of the norm is required that we actually go “in to” the bank. And with this loss of personal interaction has also come the loss of people being able to adequately provide service. They don’t know the individual. Your ability to obtain a loan is based strictly on your credit score. No long do you have a “banker” who knows your history and your ability to repay your commitments. Electronics convenient; yes. Decreasing our abilities to interact with other human beings and actually transact business that doesn’t fit within electronic parameters; even more so, resulting in actual increased frustrations when you do need to talk to a human being across a counter or desk.
Thanks for the feedback and the fascinating food for thought. You are absolutely right… I really miss the “Personal Banking Representative” that followed me for 15 years.
The increased dependence on technology is indeed making us miss opportunities to connect on a human level!
Andre- thanks for the interesting post that brings back memories. My first job, in high school, I worked at the local Woolworths. We were paid every Friday which helped with budgeting and our pay envelopes contained cash! Which probably didn’t help my budgeting. And how about “reconciling” the checkbook or having to “float” a payment?
Oh my goodness yes! You brought back many memories of my years working part-time at the pharmacy.
We all hated opening a roll of coins near the end of the shift and then getting stuck counting what was left of them when doing the float. Ahh, those were the days! Great memories! 🙂
Yes, good memories. And at least we learned how to make change back then!
I pat myself on the back and say Yay every time my pension cheque gets deposited in my account at the end of each month!!!
Oh my, I didn’t think about that! And you are completely right, you definitely deserve to say “Yay” for that pension cheque! You worked very hard for it! Bravo!