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WesternHunter's picture
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Cost of Living

Funny.  I once read a quote from someone (can't remember his name now) who once said "the high cost of living is really just the cost of living high"

As I fiddle with this inflation calulator it really drives the point home and proves that a saying from over a century ago is still just as true today as it was then.

http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

Kept in mind when playing with this calculator that the average middle class individual income is a bit more today than the equivelent of 1955 for example.  Also keep in mind that we enjoy much more discounted prices on many products today than we had even 25 years ago due to large big-box retailers and wholesalers like Costco and Walmart, and all the super stores out there.  Most people today will say it's their car that is their money pit, but you also have to keep in mind that todays modern automobiles last on average over 200K if treated right as opposed to the 100K limit vehicles had prior to the early 1980's and todays vehicles are much more fuel efficient than those in our parents or grandparents day.  The main thing that really has increased in price today are home prices, but most everything else today is about the equivelent in price as our parents and grandparents paid for them years ago. Many products were much more expensive in their time than those same products are for us today. 

allinone's picture
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A good point.  But how to

A good point.  Thumbs up But how to improve it?

groovy mike's picture
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living within our means

Living within our means is the only answer.  Just don't spend money you don't have and you will be fine.

Tndeerhunter's picture
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Agree!

groovy mike wrote:

Living within our means is the only answer.  Just don't spend money you don't have and you will be fine.

 

Mike, I couldn't agree more. How many times have you spotted someone gabbing on the latest hi-tech cell phone while they cruised down the boulevard in a $37 car. Perhaps it might be more important to purchase a reliable car and forsake the $75/month cell phone bill.

Need I mention designer clothing? Shopping for milk and bread at the Quick-Stop instead of a grocery store? Stopping to buy a $5 cup of coffee on your way to work? I'm not so sure when a lot of people moved away from smart $$ management to simply "I wanna buy that!"

Mike, Your point is very well taken.  Yes

 

 

WesternHunter's picture
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high tech phones

Interesting about the price fo smart smart phones these days or iPads.  It's amazing how technology and capability changes, but price really doesn't.  At first I was critical of people spending too much money on stuff like iPads and smar phones these days, that is until I was looking through some old Parker Pen ads from the late 1930's and early 1940's. Back in 1941 a personal fountain pen cost about $7.50 to $12.50.  That equates to roughly $117 to $195 in todays dollars.  Pretty expensive! (Remember that cheap 10 packs of disposable Bic pens didn't exist then.) Consider that despite the beauty and jeweled appearance of a common fountain pen, back then a pen wasn't just a luxury item, it was first and foremost a utilitarian writing tool, meant not only to sign or initial a document, but also as a personal word processor meant to write page upon page of letters and documents on a regular daily basis. Basically, it was, in it's day the equivelent of todays iphone, PDA, or iPad. 

Zippo lighters in 1941 had an average retail price of $2.50 to $3.50.  Again this was in a time before cheap disposable products were common on the market.  $2.50 to $3.50 in 1941 has the same buying power as $37.00 to $52.00 does today.  The last Zippo I bought was in 2004 and it cost me $16 if I recall and that was full price.  Again, you have to remember to keep it in context, today the market is flooded with cheap disposable lighters that often sell for a couple bucks a pack and didn't exists in the old days. 

Tndeerhunter, you mensiones people high priced coffee today??  In 1955 coffee sold for .93 cents per pound at the neighborhood grocery store.  That's roughly $7.59 in todays dollars.  I buy whole bean coffer regularly by the pound and pay between $6.99 to $8.99 per pound depending on what's on sale.  Typically that's Starbucks too.  The best part is that the market is offering us today much better Arabica beans as opposed to the cheap and bitter tasting Robusta beans used for American coffee in 1955.  Today we're getting better quality at the same price.

In 1955 a typical Ford passenger car cost between $1600 and $3000.  Type that into the inflation calculator and you'll see that a typical passenger car today goes for roughly the same price, but is more fuel efficient and typically lasts longer. 

$4137 per year was the average individual income in this country in 1955.  That's just under $34,000 per year in todays money.  In 2001 in my city it was said that the average individual income was around $38,000 per year, that was ten years ago. 

We truely have become a spoiled rotten nation.  I don't think, even despite the recent recession, we realize just how lucky and fortunate most of us truely are or how comfortable we live today. 

Tndeerhunter's picture
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I'm with ya

Quote from WesternHunter:

We truely have become a spoiled rotten nation.  I don't think, even despite the recent recession, we realize just how lucky and fortunate most of us truely are or how comfortable we live today. 

 

Amen to that !!!! Thumbs up

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Good post

Even the poorest among us live better then the wealthy 130 years ago.  I'm afraid the price for all the technology and material posssessions, has been a loss of morality for Americas people.

expatriate's picture
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The interesting thing is that

The interesting thing is that if you look at census data, the rate of poverty in the US was dropping rapidly from 1959 to creation of all the modern welfare programs in 1965 via Johnson's "Great Society" vision.  Since then, the poverty rate has fluctuated, but has remained basically unchanged overall.  Trillions of dollars spent, and we have the same poverty rate we had before.  We were doing much better before the programs were created.   And yet when I went by the low-income housing complex in my hometown last year, I lost count of how many satellite TV dishes there were outside the houses.  Hmmm...45 years ago, poverty consisted of people that didn't have indoor plumbing or shoes.  Now we're spending money to help people who have dish TV, air conditioning, and cel phones.  If somebody had said 20 years ago that taxpayer dollars would be spent to provide such items, there would've been monumental outrage.

Tndeerhunter's picture
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excellent points

You've made some excellent points there! One other, that might be worth mentioning, might be the free cell phones the poor get from the government. They are, of course, a necessity.  Whistling

expatriate's picture
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cost of living

The thing is that if you look back on what they were trying to achieve in 1965 with all those welfare programs, we've long since achieved those goals.  But if we actually put an end to poverty, we have to declare victory and get rid of the programs, don't we?  That's why the poverty rate has remained stable since the creation of the welfare state...you have to keep re-defining "poverty" in order to make sure it remains a problem so you can keep doling out the cash to all those welfare-addicted voters that support you.  

Roughly 1 in 7 Americans is now on food stamps.  All we've done is expand the number of people in this country that receive money taken from other people.  Stats for programs have gone up or down a couple points periodically so politicians can claim to have cut costs or make progress, but then a couple years later the other side quotes stats to expand the program.  Overall, the emotional Sally Struthers routine makes it a one-way trip...everybody wants to increase and nobody wants to cut.

As a result, we spend more on social programs than we do on national defense.  And interest on the national debt is close behind at #3.  It's not going to stop until the bill-paying class looks Sally Struthers in the eye and says, "That's too bad...the emotional blackmail has to stop."  But now that we've reached the point where half of the country pays no income tax, we're reaching the tipping point deToqueville warned of where half of the country realizes it can live off the other half's money.

WesternHunter's picture
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welfare and food stamps

expatriate wrote:

Roughly 1 in 7 Americans is now on food stamps.  All we've done is expand the number of people in this country that receive money taken from other people.  

 

Over 20 years ago when I was still in high school I worked for a few months as courtesy clerk at my local chain grocery store bagging grocerys and retreiving shopping carts.  I had full view to what people bought who paid with food stamps.  Food stamps then only covered food items, not sure about today.  These foodstamp people always had plenty of cash for TV Guide, Soap Opera Digest, or a carton of cigarettes.  An obvious sign that these recipients simply sat around all day an watched TV.  I get so sick and tired of people bitching to the President or to their Congressman about how they can't pay their bills, yet they are so unwilling to give up all the unnessesary materialistic stuff temporarily just to make ends meet.  There's something out there called Financial Responsibility, maybe these people should look into it. 

How is it that the average American was making less money in the past, working harder, and paying the equivelent for things in their time, and todays average individual makes relatively more money but enjoys better discounted prices that didn't exists in the old days, has less dependents, and Americans today are deeper in debt than in any other time in our country's history?? 

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