Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Can we afford new technology?

Are you as concerned about the future as I am? Think about it... $4.00 for a gallon of gasoline? If that's not enough look at the cost of food and housing these days. I remember when I graduated from high school, I was paying around $1.32 for a gallon of gasoline for my car. To rent an apartment we'd spend no more than about $350-$400 a month at the most. My wife and I rented in our early days and finally we saved enough to buy our first house for $12,000. We were the proud owners of a used mobile home and we were very happy to be owning something rather than renting all the time. After living in the mobile home for a few years we sold it and bought a small but very nice 3 bedroom home for our growing family for $52,000. Scraping enough savings to pay down 10% was tough but we did it. Brenda and I both we're making about $10.00 per hour at the time. We were on a tight budget but we could make it if we both worked as many hours each week that we could. Those days were over 20 years ago!

About the only thing to remain the same these days for most of our children moving away from home is the pay. Although minimum wage has gone up some over the years. The take home pay for most couples starting out today is almost like it was in my younger years. They have about the same income, yet their expenses today compared to what ours were then are staggering. Let's look at some comparisons.

Income then... Between my wife and I was right around $38,400 annual income.
Here's a list of some of our expenses then.

  • House payment or rent was $450 monthly = $5,400 annually.

  • Gasoline was $1.32 per gallon.

  • Food was half the price that we pay for it now. I remember Libby's canned vegetables on sale for 5/$1.00. Mac and Cheese for 10/$1.00. The sales were great and the food was really very inexpensive then. Back then we didn't pay for bottled water (who ever heard of such a thing, tap water was free!)

  • Television, was free. (no cable or satellite) Sure you didn't have but three stations to pick from, but even with the hundreds I have to choose from now, I still can't find anything worth watching most times. (Cable wasn't around yet)

  • The phone bill was minimal cost. (no cell phones were invented yet.)

  • Internet, not around yet.

So just looking at house payment, Gasoline for our cars, Food, TV, Phone, and Internet, the differences are staggering in the cost associates with today's young people just starting out on their own.

  • Monthly house today... $650-$850 minimum rent or house payments in many cases, usually more. Payments at a minimum are way up.

  • Gasoline $4.00 per gallon. Gas has tripled!

  • Food has tripled!

  • The phone bill is double what we paid, but now let's add on our cell phones.

  • Internet use is additional, something we never had in the past.

  • TV is no longer free, add on lots more for this as well.

Let's see, everything has gone up except for our wages??? How can we make it today?

I believe there is an answer, but we're not going to like it. Unless our young people can afford the cell phone, they shouldn't have it. If they can't afford the gasoline they certainly can't afford a car payment, they need something that they can afford to buy and chances are it won't be cool, whatever it is. The Internet should be a privilege that you should have only if you can afford it. The TV is an easy fix, buy a DVD player and watch movies once in a while, or get just the basic cable if you can afford it. The problem with today's young people are that they want to live the same lifestyle as if they are making the same income their parents make. I don't quite understand this logic. In my day I knew that the only thing I'd ever have, I would have to pay for and buy myself. I think having parents that are struggling to make ends meet week after week does that to you. The reality is that we must live within our means, and so many of us don't. When this happens we become slaves to the things we own, or at least to the things we think we own. In many cases the bank owns them because we're using their money to get these things. Proverbs 22:6 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. It's dangerous ground to live on. Especially in today's environment we should be very frugal, very expense conscious. Even if our young people are very tight and very expense conscious, the road ahead of them today is much more difficult than it was in my younger days. The technology is wonderful, but it comes at a very high cost. A cost that many can't afford today. I'm afraid it's going to get worse before it ever gets better. Hopefully we'll come to our senses soon.

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