Cost of Modern Life

To continue the policy of posting on random topics.

I was listening to an NPR report on the current ‘college loan problem’, where a large swath of middle-class america can’t afford to put their kids through college, but at the same time can’t get goverment sponsored loans.

(I know that my parents ran into this same problem with me & my sister, the NPR report was on how this had gotta worse since then)

It seems that the main issue here is that the government came up with it’s guidelines, a long time ago (don’t remember the decade exactly), but when the ‘Standard Quality of Life’ was much lower … and it was, and still is, therefore expected for a family to be able to spent 22% of their post-tax income towards college.  In the modern age, with ‘expected quality of life’ that we have, very few people have almost 1/4 of their salary as just free cash sitting around.  They elaborated on this a bit more on the report, but it really got me to thinking …

Think about ‘life now’, versus, say, just as far back at the 60’s (or 70’s for that matter).   There are so many things now that we EXPECT, and couldn’t imagine living life without.  And it’s not just the privileged … I have many friends from all walks of life, and even those that are supporting a family of 5 on one and a half minimum wage salaries … have to have a Cell Phone for example.

Cell phones are probably a great example of this.  I really can’t imagine life without one now … but thinking back, I didn’t get one until, probably, 8 years ago, if then.  I have trouble imaging how my parents survived so long without out, and as my son continues to grow up, I fully expect to buy one for him (at some unspecified age) so that he can contact me.

I remember much of my, and my parent’s lives being filled with ‘waiting around’, because of a lack of cell phones.  In college I would be dropped off for afterschool activities, or at a golf course, or at a game, wherever …  And my parent’s would only have an estimated time of when I would be free.  And they would show up.   If it ended early, I had to hang out and twiddle my thumbs.  If it ended late, they did.

The more I think about it, it’s amazing to me now the amount of technology that I have, that I just couldn’t live without now, and that therefore is a constant monthly drain of resources for service fees, OR at least is a constant drain of ‘replacements & upgrades’.

I suggest you take a second to ponder this yourself.  It’s interesting.  I don’t see any ‘solution’ to it, it’s just a sign of the times.  I don’t plan on changing it myself.   Below I’m going to document all of these things that fall under that category for myself:

  • Cell Phone (on top of land line service as well)
  • PDA (usually combined with Cell Phone now)
  • Cable (or satellite)
  • ReplayTV (Insert name of your preferred DVR here)
  • GPS systems for Vehicles
  • Internet Access
  • Mobile Internet Access
  • Home Computer(s)
  • Laptop(s)
  • Video Game System + Monthly Online Access Fees
  • Mobile gaming system (PSP, Nintendo, etc)

These are all things that I couldn’t imagine living without, personally.  And are all things that 40 years ago, didn’t exist, and so wasn’t a cost for anyone.

I’m sure others would have some extra items on that list (such as iPods, etc.)


3 Responses to Cost of Modern Life

  1. […] birur wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI have trouble imaging how my parents survived so long without out, and as my son continues to grow up, I fully expect to buy one for him (at some unspecified age) so that he can contact me. I remember much of my, and my parent’s lives … […]

  2. […] Cost of things in comparison You might want to consider this a followon to my previous post about modern costs. […]

  3. ashersimons says:

    As you say, we have technology now that didn’t exist 40 years ago but with some exceptions (like cable and gaming systems) most of the items can be used for business or as business related money making devices. The cell phone in particular, now that we live in a mobile world, 40 years ago maybe one in two working households or less had a car now most working households have two or more cars. We are on the move and need to do business on the move as well, the old life of waiting two or three days for a quote are gone, if you can’t quote almost instantly you will loose the business to someone else who can. A mobile phone is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity if you want to keep up in the working world. I have dispensed with my land line as an unnecessary expense that I no longer have time for. Pre paid phones have made it possible for almost anyone to have a cell phone and now I understand that Tracfone and the US government are subsidizing pre paid cell phones to low income households. So everyone will be able to call for help in an emergency but also use their cell phone to do business. The Sullivan report shows how by having a cell phone Americans can do more business and add valuable extra dollars to their monthly earnings. There is no way we can compare working and living 40 years ago with our fast track lives of today.

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