It is amazing how much things change over the years.
When you think in terms of decades, the changes are even more drastic.
I’m sure you can think of many things we have today that you wouldn’t dreamed of having even just a couple years ago.
The thing that many of us don’t think about is that our parents didn’t have these expenses at the same point in their lives that millennials are at today.
Even if millennials are making the same amount of money their parents earned, after you adjust for inflation, there are more expenses fighting for every dollar earned.
Granted, many of these expenses are choices that we make today. Keep in mind, they aren’t necessities.
More “Utility” Expenses
The two biggest “utility” additions in the last couple decades have been cell phones and home internet.
For any millennial, these are must have utilities and there is no way 99% of us would go without them.
Our parents couldn’t even have thought up high speed internet or mini computers that you carry in your pocket. Unfortunately for us, these expenses aren’t small.
Cell phones cost hundreds of dollars if you don’t sign a 2 year contract with a carrier and that doesn’t even include the monthly bill of anywhere from $50 to $150+ per line! Luckily, you can lower your phone bill to as little as $10 a month (plus tax) with innovative companies like Republic Wireless.
High speed internet in your home isn’t cheap either. At a minimum, you’re likely paying $30 a month but I’ve seen packages run as much as $100 simply for internet.
You might need a cable modem and wi-fi router as well so you can use all of your wireless devices in your home.
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last couple decades and that means even more expenses that our parents’ generation didn’t have when they were growing up.
Some pieces of technology, such as laptop or desktop computers and DVRs seem to have a place in most of our homes.
These new technologies cost a lot of money up front, but they have a ton of extra costs down the road as well. Computers end up needing to be replaced every few years.
Most people end up spending a ton of money on software or apps to either entertain (Netflix, Candy Crush, etc) or educate themselves (Rosetta Stone). Other purchases make our lives easier through simplifying difficult tasks, but they still cost money (Microsoft Excel, Quicken, etc).
There are similar costs with other technologies that have become more common. Things like satellite TV and video games systems both have up front costs and additional costs to purchase more entertainment options.
Upgraded Items From Times Past
There are more expensive versions of things from the past like electric toothbrushes and digital SLR cameras rather than traditional SLR cameras.
You can still buy regular old food, but now we have fancy organic food if that’s your preference. You could shop in traditional stores, but now you can shop on the internet too and get everything shipped to your house.
These upgrades add conveniences, but at the same time some of them add cost to our daily lives.
Organic food is definitely more expensive, but it may end up saving you money down the road with less health problems due to pesticides.
Online shopping can save you money due to lower costs, but if you shop more because you can shop from the comfort of your home you could end up spending more. In many cases you have to pay for shipping, too!
We’ve Eliminated Expenses Too!
We haven’t only added expenses over the last couple of decades. In some ways, we’ve been able to cut down expenses! Dress codes at many work places have become much more relaxed saving people hundreds on business professional clothing.
The internet has vastly increased the knowledge available to everyday people compared to the past. If I want to know how to fix something in my house, all I have to do is search for a YouTube video to see if it is something I can handle myself (and save hundreds) or if it is too complicated and requires hiring a pro.
Overall, I’d say we probably do have more expenses than our parents did when they were our age, but many of them aren’t as necessary as we like to think they are.
People could function without cell phones or internet in our homes. We could go to the public library to use the internet there if we needed it for something.
Either way, the important thing is to realize that comparing how much your parents had to pay when they were your age versus your current expenses is a very complicated thing to do. There are just way to many changes in how we live our lives.
What expenses can you think of that our parents didn’t have that we have today that I didn’t mention? Can you think of anything that has been eliminated that we don’t have to pay for that your parents did when they were our age? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo by: Janitors Text added by: Lance Cothern