Expenses Your Parents Never Dreamed Of Having

Expenses your parents never dreamed of havingIt 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.

Related: How to Save Hundreds on Your Cable Bill

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.

Related: Republic Wireless Review – You Could Save Big Money On Your Cell Phone Bill

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.

New Technology

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

Like What You See?

Join the other readers who have signed up for our email newsletter! No spam, just periodic updates to help improve your finances!

About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Internet is the main expense that my parents didn’t worry about when we were growing up. That and cell phone bills! Our parents got off easy! =/

  2. Two things come to mind that my parents never had to think about. First, cable or satellite tv bills. Only three channels back then! And we buy so much more insurance now….long term care insurance, disability insurance, professional liability insurance, vision care and dental insurance…..even insurance for pets!

  3. How about college tuition! Man, was my mom shocked when she saw those numbers. I’m a first generation college student so she certainly had no idea that college had shot up in price by about 300% from when she took community college expenses. While I paid for my college myself and through loans, she was just floored that other parents did!

  4. Great and interesting post. I feel like we are replacing items and “upgrading” at a much higher rate than in the past. I also think people are spending more on travel as family and friends move away and are more mobile.

  5. Great article, Lance. I think the lifestyle in general has changed. When I was a kid, it wasn’t normal to have a new car or buy spendy clothes, or go out to eat. I can probably count on one hand the number of times we went to a restaurant growing up. The early seventies were just an entirely different mindset where spending was concerned. It was still difficult for most people to qualify for a credit card, and if you got approved for a mortgage of any size you were thrilled. Now days, all of these things are “normal”.

  6. My parents was surprised on how a lot of things change so fast. Handhelds before where big and bulky, but now things are getting smaller and thinner each passing year. They’re paying for our Internet bill every month, which we don’t even have when I was a kid.

  7. What a creative post idea!! I seriously don’t know how my parents did anything without cell phones haha.

  8. Interest points, Lance. Cell phone and Internet bills are the two monthly costs I think of (which you of course mentioned). However, as technology continues to advance (and in many ways, converge), I think we end up saving money in the long run. For example, we haven’t had cable TV bills for over a year in our household since the Internet really has become the priority and gives us the chance to stream online or download programs. We no longer own CD player + phone + computer when we can have all these things in one device. Looking forward to the future!

  9. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I think my folks spent nearly $1000 on a set of encyclopedias, which was a ton of money back in the 60s. My mom still has them on display in her living room. Like you said, it’s difficult to compare. Best thing we can do is try to keep expenses down by making good choices in what we buy, and especially watch out for expensive recurring charges, such as cell phone charges. I use a Trackfone for my cell phone. For the amount I use it, it costs about $100/year or $8.33/month. If you have a smart phone, look at something like StraightTalk ($45/month for unlimited everything).

  10. Who really pays full price for books anymore, and landlines. Gas mileage is much better, but people now pay for bottled water when they didn’t before.
    Lance I added you to my blogroll.

  11. Our internet bill is ridiculous now… $60 for basic service. When my husband tried uploading a large amount of photos, it totally reduced our downloading speeds which is frustrating considering we pay $60 a month! We’re in an area with no other competitor (I tried getting DSL but the phone lines are too damaged in my area and Verizon is too cheap to fix) so we’re stuck with them. At least their (Cablevision/Optimum Online) customer service is excellent.

    I do think that people didn’t have to pay so much to commute back then either. Adjusted for inflation, gas is significantly more than what our parents paid. Plus public transit costs were cheaper, people could afford housing much closer to their work so they didn’t drive as far, etc. etc.

  12. I just had a conversation about this with my stepdad! He was talking about one time he’d overdrafted his first bank account and the fee was $5! $5!?!?!?!? Now we look at $30 and up for the standard OD fee. Crazy.

Share Your Thoughts