Anytime I see a people complaining on social media about the cost of housing compared to previous generations, it is always followed with hundreds of comments stating that previous generations did not "waste their money on ridiculous things". These comments always bring up Starbucks, avocado toast, $1,000 cell phones and streaming services (and it always seems to come from one side). But they completely ignore what previous generations spent money on.
This got me thinking... How much money did we waste on ridiculous things?
I started thinking about what I saw older generations spending money on in the 80s and 90s.
Almost everyone I knew had a glass cabinet in their home filled with "fine china" dinnerware that was only used once a year. And the walls were decorated with artistic plates that were not cheap. Seems ridiculous.
Depending on when you were born, you would buy the exact same music album at least 3 times. Maybe you started with a record of your favorite band, then you moved to cassettes and had to buy the same album again. Then CDs came out, time to buy it yet again.
You would go to the record store at least once a month, usually more, to buy these CDs. They cost around $12 which, in today's money, is equivalent to $27. And you rarely just bought one. I spent somewhere between $24 and $50 each month on CDs, which would be $50 to $100 per month today, just to have music. And everyone has a huge binder full of CDs under the passenger seat of their car.
Oh, but we needed something to listen to the music on. So we may have started with a record player, then moved to a WalkMan, then a DiscMan for CDs. In the early 90s a DiscMan would cost between $380 and $450, depending on if you wanted the good anti-skip feature. And you needed that feature if you wanted music that didn't skip when you walked. That is between $800 and $980 in today's dollars, adjusted for inflation.
So we were paying the equivalent of a nice cell phone today to just listen to music, ALONE.
Oh, I'm sorry, that is just for music on the go. I forgot about the multi-disc changer we needed in our homes, connected to a separate amp, that was connected to big speaker.
And of course we all would upgrade to the newest versions.
And sure, we didn't have cell phones, but we had the first pagers, that needed to be upgraded to the better pagers with letter options, that was upgraded to the first cell phones.
Now the pagers and cell phones were not too expensive. They were around $80 to $100, which is about $200 today. But those plans, thats where they got you. If you went over your monthly minutes or messages, get ready for a surprise bill in the multiple hundreds.
We spent an insane amount of money to listen to music and have a pager/phone. Streaming services seem WAY cheaper.
And speaking of streaming, what about movies?
In the 80s, VHS movies were about $90 because only rental stores would buy them. So we would go to Blockbuster every Friday and rent a few movies at $3 a pop. This is about $10 today for one single rental. Of course the kids would get two choices and the adults usually got one. That's $30 a week for movie rentals.
When DVDs came out in the 90s, the price to buy dropped to $25, or $50 today. So everyone built up their collection. I remember every house I knew have a stack of DVDs next to the CD tower.
We wasted an insane amount of money on ridiculous things.
And those are just the things off the top of my head.
Millennials are right, previous generations had it easier.