Back in the day, a Snickers Bar used to be 10 cents. 10 cents I tell you. Now, kids these days spend $2, $3 or $4 on a chocolate bar! How is anyone meant to afford that?
Back in the day, a cinema ticket used to be a pittance. You could see a matinee with John Wayne, and not have to worry about how it represented 4 weeks worth of allowance.
Back in the day, a grocery shop would cost you next to nothing. Now it’s not unusual to spend $100 dollars just trying to feed the family for a week, and even then you’re heading back up to the shops every second day for all the things you forgot.
We’ve all heard it, the Back In The Day mantra. But is there any truth to it? Is it true that living costs are higher than they ever were, or maybe it’s just that we expect to have a lot more these days? Are what we call essential items actually not that important? A survey found that 48% people believed they were worse off than their parents.
Here’s what I found out:
Sydney isn’t cheap
Irregardless of what the New South Wales Tourist bureau tries to tell me, Sydney isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s one of the world’s most expensive cities, ranking in at 20th. While this is without a doubt true, it also needs to be taken into account that whether or not a city is regarded as expensive is contingent upon the strength of their currency, so Sydney has both fallen 51 places and risen 47 places in the last couple of years based on the fluctuations of the Australian dollar.
It’s a debated area
How was I to know I was wading into such a contentious area? There is an interesting article from a Mr. Cliff Droke, refuting the claim from Forbes that “The typical family is doing a whole lot better than their grandparents were in 1967”. Mr. Droke does not believe this to be true, due to decreased levels of home ownerships. He also suggests a theory called the ‘Winner takes all’ theory. This suggests that the modern generation is more likely to compare themselves to the wages of a super star and therefore feel dissatisfied, than previous generations.
The idea of wealth is comparative
Whether or not the cost of living is higher today may not actually be the question of importance. I came across this point in my travels that, even though Rockefeller was a billionaire, he couldn’t have bought what we have now. He couldn’t have bought air-conditioning, even if he’d spent every penny he had. He couldn’t have driven to work in a car. So maybe I should appreciate the boons of modern day existence, before I set to bewailing how a Snickers bar cost only ten cents.
A conclusive answer as to whether or not the cost of living is higher today than in previous eras was out of my reach for the writing of this article. People seem unanimous in the idea that we feel poorer, despite having amenities our grandparents would have never even conceived. I’m going to take a lesson from that and start making my own hemp clothing and try and feel richer. Maybe it’s all in my head anyway.