Had we only known that everyday things we were accustomed to daily might disappear or become a luxury, would we appreciate them that much more? With the advent of technology, we carry computers in our pockets, access a lifetime of entertainment, music. sports, and video games, and shop without leaving our couch while communicating with friends and family anywhere in the world.
These astronomical advances are a giant leap from before the Internet, but many things that were part of everyday life are now considered a luxury. On an online forum, people shared what they miss most today that was typical in the 1990s.
1. New Furniture with Real Wood
The quality of new furniture is not the same as solid wood, which was more typical 20 to 30 years ago. A few people shared that their grandparents had solid bookshelves and beds still in strong shape. On the other hand, most furniture is composed of pressboard that doesn’t last as long but costs as much or more.
2. Owning Software Purchases
One person shared that he preferred owning open-source software for a one-time payment and receiving a physical cassette, CD, or DVD you’d download and use indefinitely. Instead, the current practice requires you to get the app and pay ongoing monthly subscriptions for something you don’t own or have control over. However, one-time purchases would not update, as many subscriptions usually do.
3. Free Driver’s Education Classes
Public high schools used to offer driver’s education classes for free, but those offerings were eliminated years ago. While students may get a free class to get a driver’s permit, most will need driving instructions from private companies that charge hourly or as a package.
4. Affordable Health Care
Getting health care has become expensive. Also, the culture of medical practitioners has deteriorated, as they have less time to spend with patients and seem burdened by their practice.
5. Making Friends
People spend more time on social media communicating with their friends or getting likes and follows than developing interpersonal relationships that may last for decades.
6. Not Being Reachable 24/7
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One person lamented the times when it was customary not to be expected to be reachable on a 24/7 basis. With smartphone technology, many bosses hope you answer your phone or text, regardless of the time, even when you aren’t working. As a result, many people confessed to keeping their phones silent, especially with family.
7. Reasonable Concert Tickets
According to one commenter, concert tickets have quickly jumped four-fold from $50 to $200. Someone shared that he paid over $200 to see Blink 182 “for nosebleed seats.” This is a huge issue, and there has been a backlash against ticket providers like Ticketmaster.
8. Single-Income Families Buying A Home
Several people pointed out how challenging it has become for single-income families to buy homes with higher home prices and rising mortgage rates. According to the New York Times, the national median house was $398,500, requiring a payment of $2,233 a month with a qualifying household income of $95,717 annually. However, the national median income is around $70,000, making a home purchase out of reach for many. In the 1990s, household income rose as mortgage rates and home prices fell.
9. Paying No More Than 30% of Income for Rent
Rent has soared, especially as mortgage rates rose significantly from historically low rates. One shared that spending 25% of income on rent was more common, even in New York City, but that amount is wishful thinking. Other parts of the country seem to be seeing the same jump in rent, with a one-bedroom apartment in Wisconsin in 1997 costing under $500 and the same apartment going for $1,800. These days people pay more than 30% of their income on rent and fear that ad rent prices rise faster than wages, that percentage will continue to go up.
10. Available Company-Funded Pension Plans
Someone says getting a company-funded pension plan is challenging unless you work for public education or the government. Back in the 1990s, it was more likely you could get a pension from the private sector instead of primarily funding your retirement with your earnings 401k plan.
11. High-Quality Clothes
Someone misses “good quality fabric in clothing” from the 1990s when apparel was better. These days clothes are made from thin material, belt loops easily break off, and shoes don’t last as long.
12. Household Appliances Lasting Longer
These days many household appliances don’t last more than a few years and are difficult to repair. Having a refrigerator last for decades was more of the norm than the few years they do now before having to buy a newer, more expensive model. It’s not just refrigerators but washers, dryers, and many appliances in our home.
In addition to the short life of these household things, many complained about many machines being controlled by Bluetooth and charging batteries.
13. Going Out After Work
One person hit the nail on the head for many others, saying they want to “Go out every Friday night after work and afford it.” The high cost of food and drinks, especially when cocktails are $15 or more, makes having a night on the town with friends very challenging. Some estimated that they pay bills of $120 to have a good time is too costly to enjoy the evening.
One person said they would quickly opt for boredom to replace all the distractions he wants to avoid. He said something is always taking away his attention, like too much streaming entertainment, video games, and constant social media messages from his phone. It was easier to ignore distractions in the past. Sometimes you want to have quiet time alone without technology.
15. Watching Planes Take Off From the Airport
Back in the day, it was not unusual to go to a designated area of an airport to watch planes take off. You’d bring food or snacks and run into friends; it was always a cheap date. Airports have gotten much stricter since 9-11, but that didn’t stop a few people from remembering those times at the airport with friends. Some smaller airports or clubs still allow you to do that.
16. Luxuries on Planes
There are few luxuries on planes, and a few people commented on the lack of adequate legroom, boozy drinks, and meals. The experience is akin to traveling “on a bus in the sky.”
17. Consumer Privacy
The fear of losing our privacy is real and can occur in many ways. One person said she wants to “Be able to dance and have a good time and not end up on social media.” Another person urged people “to put their cameras away, especially in gym locker rooms.” However, gyms are adding posing rooms for those wanting to show off their muscles. Another pondered why companies and services require everyone’s email and phone numbers. Marketers keep exorbitant data on our purchases, returns, and interests to increase client sales.
18. A Handwritten Letter
One person noted that handwritten letters are less common, though they are more personal and valued than getting an email with impersonal digital characters.
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This article originally appeared on The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.