Finance in the 21st Century: How Our Buying and Spending Habits Have Changed

The past 100 years have seen our spending habits change dramatically. As a nation we’ve become more affluent, yet we’ve also experienced booms, recessions and massive transformations in the way we live our lives.

The amount of time we spend outside of our homes has changed dramatically – as well as the hours we put into doing housework – and our use of technology (and all its associated costs) would have been unthinkable to the average person in the 1950s, or even the 1990s…

So, what happened?


Before 21st century: Necessity rules

Well, between 1900 and 1970, buying and spending really came down to a matter of necessity. The cost of accommodation and food swallowed up around 60% of the average family’s income, with many people not being able to buy their own homes. The type of food we bought was also very different too: supermarkets had yet to come into existence (which meant buying from local corner shops and markets on an almost daily basis) and only 15% of households owned a freezer in 1974. This all made the convenience, cost, type, preparation and storage of food very different to the routine we’re familiar with today.

Also, for the majority of the 20th century, entertainment accounted for less than 5% of a household’s outgoings…. something that we can’t fathom today in an age of leisure time, technology and the internet! There wasn’t a huge amount of money left over for recreation and culture, which was probably just as well – most men and women had very little free time, enjoying just a handful of television programmes and radio broadcasts within limited hours.

After 21st century: The age of consumerism

Towards the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, however, things began to change. Accommodation was (and still is) a huge expense for most household, but more people now own their homes (at least partially) than they did in the 20th century.

Moreover, the way in which we buy and spend has changed dramatically. Before the 21st century, transactions were chiefly a matter of exchanging cash. Shopping today, on the other hand, is a hobby in itself, with covered shopping centres, a plethora of online shops and market places and ‘super malls’ all designed to facilitate our shopping habits!

Most transformative of all, however, is the method in which we purchase. In the 21st century, we enjoy being able to use methods such as chip and pin machines, contactless payments, PayPal, online bank transfers, and even new and convenient methods such as apple pay. However, keeping on top of our finances can be very difficult… 21st century spenders are subject to a barrage of targeted adverts on our televisions and internet browsers, and are encouraged to participate a culture whereby we consume new things and quickly dispose of them.

A business is saving money

Take control of your finance

So, if you’re struggling to manage your money right now, don’t beat yourself up… you’re not alone and it’s not altogether surprising when our modern buying and spending habits are designed the way they are!

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to ‘combat’ bad spending habits:

  • It’s all about mindset.
  • Set goals by realistically plan for your spending – and stick to it.
  • Switch to alternative, cheaper stuffs and services.
  • Track your spending.
  • Reward yourself.

More tips here

Some words on the side effect, namely debts

The biggest problem of today’s buying and spending habits is debt. Many are ‘willing’ to let themselves fall deep into debts.

If you’re one of those who are in dire need for a relief, then you may want to consider alternative loans – for example, if you’re in a real pinch, check out CCP and see if a logbook loan is the right option for you – and of course, a radical change of your spending habits