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It’s amazing how time, technology, and our spending habits can drastically change what we think to be necessities or common items.
It’s no surprise that with the rise of a consumer society comes an understanding of products as luxury items.
However, it might come as a shock that many products once seen as basic are now viewed as luxuries by today’s standards due to their expense.
As we all search for ways to create a cozy lifestyle on even the tightest budgets, let’s take a look back at some everyday staples from times past that have transformed into luxury items over time.
#1. Stay-at-Home Spouse
A common talking point for many today who are unsatisfied with the economy and the state of work is how people used to lead their lives.
Once upon a time, a stay-at-home spouse was the norm, with only one income supporting the entire family and allowing them to indulge in vacations and do more than survive.
Today, it’s near impossible to survive on just one income.
Generally, stay-at-home spouses are a last resort if childcare is unaffordable for couples.
#2. Doctor House Calls
Remember when doctors used to make house calls?
Most people don’t.
However, this practice was extremely commonplace back in the day.
It was eventually phased out for numerous reasons, including increasing costs and regulations, the fear of potentially being sued for malpractice, and the development of technologies that couldn’t be brought over to homes.
The good news?
You can practically get home care with telemedicine, even if the visit is only virtual and the doctor isn’t physically showing up to your home to help you deal with your symptoms.
#3. High-Quality Food
People used to eat well, and it showed in the overall health and wellness of the country.
But as with most things, feeding the population became about cost.
Nothing is cheaper than fast food and processed food.
As convenience became a focus for the nuclear family and people sought to deliver new experiences, we started to see fast food and processed or packaged food enter the home.
Over time, these products worsened in quality and began to contain additives and chemicals that barely resemble the food they’re modeled after.
Today, eating well is difficult, especially if you’re on a budget.
#4. Owning a Home
True, wages used to be a lot lower.
But so did housing prices, and the buying power of the dollar went much further.
The reality is that houses were much easier to obtain for those born decades ago.
Their American dream was more than possible.
Today, people looking for a home would be hard-pressed to find anything of quality below a price point of mid-to-high six figures.
Even worse, they’re up against corporations like BlackRock that are scooping up homes in order to profit off of real estate and keep younger generations renting instead of allowing them to own homes.
#5. Real Wood Furniture
Have you gone shopping for furniture recently?
If you have, you might have noticed that getting your hands on real wooden furniture isn’t so much of a reality anymore.
Everything today is made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
This is a material made of leftover hardwood or softwood compacted with resin-based glue.
Actual wooden furniture is quite expensive, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with MDF furniture, it’s certainly not as reliable or as strong as real wood.
This results in potential holes and breaking as you pull it out of the box, put it together, and do other basic activities that real wood would be able to handle.
Jobs used to offer a host of benefits to encourage individuals to not only work with a specific company but to remain loyal and stay with that company for as long as possible.
One of these benefits was a pension.
A pension is a fund that employers add to over the course of someone’s employment that then goes towards funding their retirement.
Of course, many modern employers won’t necessarily know this given that most jobs these days rarely offer benefits, let alone things like pensions.
Even though pensions may have been offered only a few decades ago, you won’t see them very often today.
#7. Owning Things vs Renting Them
Ownership wasn’t such a hard thing to obtain in years prior.
Whether it was a car, a home, or even some of your daily goods, it was much easier for people to own things.
Today’s generation instead often has to rent them.
Economic stagnancy and inflation have made it difficult to gain access to basic things like cars and houses, making it difficult to actually purchase these big-ticket items outright and own them without having to pay a ton off in loans first.
But it’s not just these items that younger generations have to rent.
Everything is a subscription program too.
Whether it’s software, entertainment, or even payment plans for groceries to offset low wages, ownership seems to be a thing of the past.
Technology is generally supposed to improve lives.
For the most part, it does.
But it’s also created a massive privacy problem.
Social media, big data, and beyond have made it so that no one has a lick of privacy or feels safe as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Whether you’re filming yourself, being filmed in public, or just browsing the web, say goodbye to true privacy.
#9. Manual Transmission Cars
A lot of the items on this list can be somewhat of a letdown.
But one thing that has been phased out and isn’t necessarily a bad thing is manual transmission cars.
It seems like manual transmission cars disappeared overnight.
While many models out there still do have stick shift, so many more have the added convenience of switching gears for you.
There’s also a lack of demand for these cars, with automatic cars simply being preferred.
If you’re not a fan of driving stick, you’ll be glad to know that manual transmission cars are really a thing of the past.
#10. Well-Built Home
Homes used to be amazing, but you might not find a home that’s up to your standards these days.
As with anything, building homes is all about profits.
If companies can find ways to stay within code while saving as much money as possible, they’ll likely do so.
This leads to poorly built structures that, while not horrendous, still leave a lot to be desired.
If you want a well-built home, you’ll need to look for something built in the past that is still in good condition today (just be on the lookout for things like asbestos).
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
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