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Old Today, 07:05 AM
 
128 posts, read 39,181 times
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Then:

- Grew up in the 70s, much of elementary school through much of high school. Parents had modest home, only dad worked, mom stayed at home with us kids, a foreign concept for many now, but that was more common then.

- Parents had a tube TV with only network broadcast channels which did not have to pay for those channels using a TV antenna including one outdoors. Costly cable service was hardly around then, as many of the current cable channels did not launch until the early 1980s, such as MTV.

- Parents also had a landline phone with a basic black rotary dial phone. Do not remember what they paid for phone service then, but it was definitely not over $100 a month, likely under $50-75. No Caller ID, that came in late 1990s, no voicemail, no answering machine. Long distance was expensive, per minute, so phone calls to grandparents within the USA was like once a month, and did not make any international calls which knew no one overseas then which was prohibitively expensive.

- USPS letter mailing was cheap then, remember mailing job applications in the mid 1980s at 15 cents each.

- Bulky cell or car phones, mostly for the rich or business executives, did not appear until the 1980s, and the service, limited number of minutes per month, 100 or so, was quite pricey. Thinking when I got a cell phone in 1998, paying $40 a month for 200 minutes with Bell Atlantic, only one-way texting, and first text sent out on my cell phone was on 12/31/2001 after a phone software upgrade that became available in December of that year, which wished had months earlier on 9/11/2001 being less than a mile where one of the planes hit as the phone system was was overloaded. Had a pager years before 1998, which was more reasonable priced, they had similar radio coverage issues as today's cell phones, and then had to find a payphone out on the road if not at home, and used a long distance calling card if traveling out of the area to call someone back home. Shared a house with three other roommates in the 1990s, none of us had cell phones, so one landline between us, and my getting on to connect to the office with a computer after hours with 56 kbps dialup access was after 11pm at night, as otherwise the landline phone line was off and on busy.

- Email and the internet. First exposure to a computer was a dumb terminal in a high school class which around 10 of us gathered around. In college in the early/mid 1980s, first exposure to personal computers which dot matrix printer took 15 minutes to print a page which went to snack area down the hall to get something to drink/eat while waiting, and also software had to be loaded each time from a large floppy such as Lotus Notes came before Excel. I was in the 1st graduating class which did not use punched cards for processing computer programs. I got my first computer at home mid-1980s replacing a typewriter for word processing, but no connection to Internet costly service, even if around, was costly for a college student budget. Worked at MCI in the mid/late 1980s and 1990s, so email initially was within the company, and three of us shared a PC within our office in the beginning, and anytime sent an email outside the company the TO address had to be three lines. Also carried a portable 12-pound terminal home for being on call after hours, with the internet connection at 300 *bits* per second. Other than the one-time expense for a personal computer then, who thought of virus protection in the 1980s.


Now:

- Monthly subscription to cable TV and broadband internet. Monthly cost for that, plus purchase price of laptop, PC, printers, other devices that connect to that such as routers and modems, needed supplies and accessories such as paper, ink, etc., not to mention the software one time purchases or subscriptions, such as for security software, some free works, but for better protection, paid is better, especially with viruses, malware, keyloggers, ransomeware, etc. Some people do streaming video to save money, but that can be challenging if not tech saavy and even so time consuming. So $50 to $250 a month typically depending what deal you have worked out with your cable provider, plus software subscriptions yearly in the same dollar range or more, plus hardware purchases over time in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

- Cell phone, smartphones, netbooks/ipads and the like - one time purchase cost unless do monthly payment plan with cell phone carrier for 2 years, which personally uncomfortable with contracts with such an expense over 1 year as never know what will happen in life, especially health wise. Plus the monthly service cost. I got rid of my landline phone in the last decade, and some families do now, but at what cost. Cell phone service can be cheap as say for $20 for bare bones unlimited cell phone service for one person, but can be over $200 a month for unlimited for a family. Now, can call cheaply or free long distance within the USA or overseas. And with the internet on smartphones, can do things could not do a decade ago such as requesting Uber/Lyft, real-time GPS mapping with traffic conditions, etc.

- And if get a landline phone, one time purchase cost of phones, either corded and/or cordless, plus monthly cost of phone service with Verizon, AT&T, cable provider, or other carrier, which is more so if get unlimited long distance.

- USPS mail, letters now at 55 cents each.

- And in many households, both parents now have to work, to afford the extra tech/communication expenses along with other household items that have raised much in price over 40-50 years, and some singles and low wage workers are struggling with the extra expenses.


As an aside, have a 90-year old aunt living out of the local area, basic landline phone, no caller ID, no voicemail, no answering machine, no cell phone, no email, no computer or printer. Does have a TV with basic cable service. Her monthly tech/communication budget under $75 a month, outside of postage expense as a heavy USPS mail user.


Your experiences and also thoughts to save money?

Last edited by sprklcl; Today at 07:57 AM..
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Old Today, 07:28 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,535 posts, read 484,003 times
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Don’t forget the devices themselves. How much have folks spent over the years on cell phones, iPads, computers, printers, home theater systems, etc.?
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Old Today, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
7,068 posts, read 2,465,819 times
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Excellent summary of the situation, OP.
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Old Today, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Greensboro, NC
5,735 posts, read 4,149,596 times
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It still remains to me, though, that while we have spent a lot on tech, think about how much more it costs to live nowadays. Back in the 80's, a brand new car was around $7,000. Nowadays, a brand new car is around $25,000+. I decent ranch home with three bedrooms and two baths in the 70's could be built for $10,000. Nowadays, the same house is going to be at least $150,000.

Then again, if you made $40k back in the early 80's, that was pretty impressive. $40k today is a struggle if you have a family.
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Old Today, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
7,068 posts, read 2,465,819 times
Reputation: 10983
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinsguy37 View Post
It still remains to me, though, that while we have spent a lot on tech, think about how much more it costs to live nowadays. Back in the 80's, a brand new car was around $7,000. Nowadays, a brand new car is around $25,000+. I decent ranch home with three bedrooms and two baths in the 70's could be built for $10,000. Nowadays, the same house is going to be at least $150,000.

Then again, if you made $40k back in the early 80's, that was pretty impressive. $40k today is a struggle if you have a family.
All true, but step back and consider the OP's points. How much of increased family income need is driven by inflation, and how much is driven by the incessant demand that we own and maintain things that didn't exist in the '80s?

(And, to get recursive, how much of COL inflation is indirectly due to the demand that we have all these things - did cel phones, for example, cause other expenses and costs to rise?)
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