Recently I started a club over on the Rockstarfinance forums for bloggers from 35-45. If you recall from a few weeks ago, and above I now feature a link to these above. As part of the forum experience I wanted to come up with a topic to ask to get the club discussion going. As I thought back to every writeup of our generation I realized there is one common theme. Every mention brings up computers. I began to wonder, given ours is the first age cohort that experienced the personal computers impact, what has been the impact of computers on your personal finance decisions?
The Impact of Computers on your Personal Finance Decisions
Anyway, as any good host should, I wanted to answer the question from my perspective before posting it. As I started to work through the answer I realized I was writing a post not a forum comment. So here is that article. Give it a read and if you enjoy it either add a comment or join in the discussion over on the forums. I am sure the answer is different and interesting for everyone.
Background of My Computer Exposure
From a young age my family had personal computers. I personally remember receiving a Commodore 64 as a hand me down from my father. But even before that we had a TRS 80, and a Timex Sinclair. Over the years we upgraded as time went on. There were early DOS machines, Apples at school, and then Windows as the years progressed. Also, we had game systems like the NES which I lump into the same phenomenon. So, I guess where any venture for me would start is with how computers influenced my career.
Computers and My Career
I started programming in late middle school, and by late high school I dreamed of being a game developer. While thankfully I never pursued this avenue (I gather its ultra-high stress), I did leverage those skills into a computer science degree. My whole associated uniqueness at work is tied to understanding the interplay of computer systems and processes well enough to run projects improving either. So, we can establish out of the gate that my career wouldn’t exist in its current form if not for computers. This however is the obvious answer, there are subtler personal impacts.
A Deeper Look at the Impact of Computers on your Personal Finance Decisions
Today computer programs and applications permeate the personal finance landscape. There are programs like Personal Capital that allow you to track your net worth. Programs like Digit or Acorns that help you to save. There are even tools like Swag Bucks that let you to trade time/a small bit of privacy for money. Because of my background, I am more likely to use some of these and less likely to use others. Items like Swag Bucks, Ebates, or even blogging intrigue me. I enjoy playing around even if they are not worth much per my time. Why? Simply because the concept of making something from time that is shared from others is ingrained in me from the early days of Prodigy and other online communities.
And yet there is a flip side. I remember hacking as a kid, and the fact that no computer system is 100 percent secure. I even remember movies like Wargames on the subject. They were not ultra-realistic with respect to how hacking works, but they did hammer into me a distrust of putting sensitive data on the internet. There is no more sensitive data than financial data. For that very reason, while I respect many of these online financial services, if they require access to my accounts I take a pass. Note: It also doesn’t help that my undergrad featured 2 classes in computer security, but I believe the hesitance would be there even before I pulled back the curtain.
Now, one could say that millennials also grew up with computers and thus have similar positives. This is true but I view it as a bit different. Millennials tended to be exposed more to systems like Apple IOS where the blood and guts of the computer were covered up. There was no typing on the command line for the average user. Or in the case of a game system like Nintendo, no futile attempts to blow the dust out of the cartridge. That more raw computer experience I also see translating into my financial life in terms of investment choices. I tend to prefer investments with more transparency and more personal control. I do not like target date investments for example simply because I want to control my own asset allocation.
A Love Numbers and Logic
The final influence of computers on my personal finance background is in my love of logic. I believe I think more logically from all those years of trying to define computer logic. When I do things like analyze stocks or other steps I tend to look at it with less emotion and more statistically numbers based. Obviously,that is a great advantage in the world of finance as emotions can be the death of your investments. Instead of going I love stock A and it looks like a good investment, I instead buy index funds because the numbers show they are a superior investment.
So, I have typed for about my typical post length on the impact of computers on my personal finance decisions. Now it’s your turn. As I stated up front, feel free to add a comment either here or on the forum. I am interested in hearing your experience.
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