Price of the American Dream: Are your costs escalating?

According to the U.S Labor Department, the cost of living in the United States increased in April at the quickest pace since last summer. The higher rate of inflation combined with stagnant wages is making the price of the American Dream ever more expensive. In my post, Are You (Financially) Better Off Than Your Parents, I mention the increased costs of housing and higher education as one of the problems with achieving the American Dream compared to our parents’ generation. While I don’t want to sound like my father and say, “back in my day, XYZ ONLY costs $X.YZ,” I’m going to do it. Even things 10 years ago have risen in costs which surprises you. Check out the below infographic and my comments about the price increases.

Cost of Living in the US – An infographic by the team at vouchercloud

College
My co-worker’s child is starting college next fall, and when I heard the cost, I almost fell out of my seat. Though, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, I graduated just over 10 years ago, and the amount that tuition has increased in the last 10 years is incredible. Honestly, I think the rate of increase is just unsustainable and with the issues of our youth saddled with large amount of student loan debt, something has got to give. Possibly a student loan bubble burst, much like the housing bubble?

Gas
I remember back in the days when the price of a gallon of gas was under $2.00. Now, the prices have pretty much doubled. However, with the arrival of hybrid and electric vehicles, maybe we won’t have to rely on gas powered vehicles for much longer. For now, I use a 5% gas cash back credit card and Gasbuddy.com to save on gas.

NFL Ticket and Movies
My father told me that back when he was in college, he was able to get tickets to nosebleed seats for the Seattle Supersonics for like $5.00. When I was a kid, he’d say that we were better off watching the game at home. Tickets for sporting events were too expensive and the view on T.V is much better. I’m not sure I was too happy about that at the time, but now as a grown up, I have to say I feel the same way. The face value of the ticket may be $82.00, but I know many who pay much more to attend NFL games. With big flat screen televisions that many people have nowadays, you just might be better off watching at home. Same goes for those movie tickets. Well, of course, you have to be patient and wait for the movie to come out on DVD.

What else have you noticed that has increased dramatically in price?

40 thoughts on “Price of the American Dream: Are your costs escalating?

    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Movie tickets are even more expensive here in NYC. I haven’t been to the movies in a while, I think it was 11 and change when I last went.

      Reply
  1. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    I remember in the 80’s going to movies and it was $4.50. But I also went to the movies a TON, whereas now I choose red box, hulu, netflix, etc, more often and save my money for movies at the theater that I REALLY want to see, so although it’s a lot more, I wonder if for ME I’m actually saving more than I used to. One thing that has gone down I think is music. So many more free or cheaper options to listen to the music you want than it was back in “my day” where you pretty much had to buy the whole darn CD. :)
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Me too. I used to go to the movies a lot too…I haven’t gone in a while though. You know I have very few CDs, I just couldn’t stand having to pay for the whole CD when I only like a song or two. And back in “my day” I taped the song from the radio! Made my own mixed tape.

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  2. SavvyFinancialLatina

    I actually go more to the movies as an adult than I did as a kid. Movies were too expensive as a kid and my parents could not afford it. Now, we can afford it a couple times a year, and I usually go when my family is in town. My husband loves going to the movies. But I would rather watch the movie at home with subtitles and pause options. I think the cost of movies is too high.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I used to like going to the movies, but now I’d prefer to watch at home too.

      Reply
  3. E.M.

    I have wondered the same thing about sports myself. I only went to one Yankees game, because it was free, and the energy in the stadium was crazy (it was also a Red Sox game). You don’t quite get that at home, unless you host a party, but I don’t think it’s worth that much money. Plus, as you said, views are better on TV! We barely ever go to movies anymore, either, unless it’s something we really want to see. Even so, we’ll try to get a discount on certain days.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yea that’s true. You can’t replicate the atmosphere of being in the stadium. I guess hosting a party or watching at a sports bar with fellow fans is an alternative. My wife and I went to the movies once in a while, but prefer to watch at home. Might go to the movies if it’s the type of movie that can be enjoyed better with a big screen and surround sound. And yes…I’m all for using a discount when I go!

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      My next car might have to be a hybrid or electric car! Though those are expensive too.

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I rarely buy DVDs. I don’t usually watch anything more than once so there’s no point.

      Reply
  4. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living

    Sorry, but I have to rant about the NFL…The NFL makes me so angry because they make billions of dollars a year in advertising revenue, game distribution rights on TV networks, ticket sales, parking, and licensed merchandise, in addition to all other realms but they can’t pay for decent health insurance for the numerous football players that never made it big and had their working careers cut short by brain or other serious industries. They then “coerce” cities to give them HUGE tax breaks to build stadiums, claiming “all these jobs will come through,” when all that comes is minimum wage jobs and terrible traffic. Plus to add insult to injury, they pay their cheerleaders terribly, less than minimum wage after you account all the unpaid time they put into their jobs. So I find it only surprising that they charge so much for tickets when they’re already raking in the dough…

    Aside from that, it’s scary how housing and health care costs are skyrocketing compared to the rate of inflation. I get it in pricey neighborhoods it goes up, but I know people in smaller towns and when they tell me their rent, I’m shocked. It’s not much cheaper than what I pay in NYC! (granted, I have no amenities and my neighborhood is not yet gentrified).

    College costs rising is scary as well. I read that a big reason why tuition rises is because of increased administrative costs. Gawker (http://gawker.com/the-richer-college-presidents-are-the-poorer-teachers-1578446082) did an article about this, claiming there are some schools now that pay more in administrative staff salary and benefits than they give out in scholarships. That’s a little tragic in my opinion. Also, my own alma mater, St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX doubled it’s tuition from when I started there in 2003. I started paying $20,000 a year and now it’s over $40,000 a year. That to me is crazy!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      No problem. I feel the same way about it. I love watching the games but have never gone to watch it nor do I pay for sports channels. As much as they charge, people still keep going so I guess the price increases won’t stop until fans draw the line.
      Housing costs in NYC…insanity. Just the last few years has bumped the prices up a lot, and it wasn’t cheap to begin with.
      I just read that article about administrative costs…seems pretty ridiculous. I also think they spend it to build stuff to put on their fancy brochures. Tuition really shouldn’t cost as much as it does.

      Reply
  5. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I definitely feel as though my costs are escalating out of control. I remember when I was in college that the price of a Big Mac was around $2 and movies were around $5. A few months ago, we quickly stopped at McDonald’s because we were in a hurry and for three of us to eat crap food, it cost us $25. We also went to the movies not too long ago and it was a $50 event between tickets and food only to have my son say 15 minutes in that he wanted to leave. I told him that he would have to pay us $50 to leave because this was a “splurge” for us and he did. He has not asked to go to the movies since.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Big Mac…crap food but yum! haha…there was a buy one get one free deal recently so I got 2 for $5. $50 for a family of 3 to go to the movies is pricey…much rather watch at home.

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  6. anna

    We still go to the movies, but only because I can get a pretty good discount at work. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to justify it. What really gets me are the $20 seats at the fancier movie places – granted you get reclining seats and you can choose in advance which seat you want, but it’s just too pricey for me!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yea, when we go to the movies we always try to find a discount. There’s one theater around me with reclining seats and I might check it out one time…not sure how much it is. But watching in the comforts of my own home is even better. I can recline my sofa!

      Reply
  7. Kim

    There are so many things today that cost tons more than before. Bottled water did not exist when I was a kid, and I can almost feel my grandparents rolling in their graves that people pay for something that comes right out of the sink. I’m also amazed at the price of some luxury cars or big, huge trucks. We live in a rural area, where huge Chevy or Ford trucks are way more common than import cars, but I am always amazed that some of the prices for a big gas guzzler truck are upwards of $50K.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Haha, yea…so true about bottled water. The high price of those cars doesn’t really surprise me, though I find that many who can’t afford still believe they need to buy them. Not only are you paying $50k, you then have to pay $4 for a gallon of gas.

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  8. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I think the student loan bubble will eventually burst, but the government will probably do what they can to bail it out (bad idea, it will cause the cycle to reset and prepare us for another bubble). I think the NFL ticket prices are absolutely insane. Here in Minnesota you have to buy a “seat license” for the new stadium that costs at minimum $1k (nosebleeds) and can be thousands upon thousands. Then you “own” the seat, but what if there is a huge drop in demand for actually going to the stadium? I think with television today you can get a pretty good experience without actually being at the stadium, which makes ticket prices that much crazier.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      You’re probably right about the bubble and bail out. Here in NY, they have seat licenses too. So you buy a license to have the privilege to buy tickets! Well the NFL has that black out rule, so I guess if not enough fans go to watch the game, they’ll make it so fans of the local market can’t watch either. Evil!

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  9. John @ Sprout Wealth

    Seeing things like this just shows me again why something will eventually have to give and why it’s so important to save and be mindful about your spending. We’ve seen some increases in food/milk lately so we try and watch that more. Thankfully we don’t drive much so that has significantly reduced what we’re spending on gas.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yea, I really need to reduce the amount I drive. My commute is long and I spend way too much on gas.

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  10. Done by Forty

    We’re kind of outliers in this regard, as our income increases have outpaced inflation over the past decade. Of course, going from my wages when 23 to 33, maybe this is expected to happen.

    In general, I think the true cost of things has gone down considerably over time, compared to our wages, over a very long time period. Things like cars, durable goods like appliances, and food are much easier for me to buy than they were for my great grandparents or grandparents. In the short term, things like education and gasoline are certainly outpacing other benchmarks though.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Good point. Some things are definitely cheaper now than they were back then…but it seems that those that are pretty necessary in our lives are growing very fast: education, gasoline, healthcare, etc.

      Reply
  11. Lauren

    I marvel at how cheap concert tickets were when my parents were young. My uncle has a collection of his old stubs, and I cannot believe that it was possible to see incredible bands like Pink Floyd for less than $10 back in the day! A concert is a rare treat for us, since it can easily come in around $100+ for 2 tickets today.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Wow, $10…even adjusted for inflation, it wouldn’t come close to the prices today. Most concerts that I see here are well over $100 per ticket, and often times even more than that (depending on the performer).

      Reply
  12. Charles@gettingarichlife.com

    I didn’t realize how expensive movies were until we were in Boston and the tickets were 14 bucks each. Housing costs are much more expensive today. I think Costco has mad food a lot cheaper

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      How much are they in Hawaii? I think they’re in the $13 range in my neighborhood.

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I never really shopped for food when I was younger so I can’t say. I’m actually more worried about what the companies are putting in the food these days, or how they’re growing it to make it cheaper.

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Under a buck! I’ve been driving for about 18 years and I don’t remember it being that cheap. =) Superbowl was in the NY area this year…no way I would have bought tickets, but they’ll probably have free events before the Superbowl. That would be fun.

      Reply
  13. Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog

    Great infographic! I love it. Inflation has been low for the last few years compared to historical inflation, but several things have been increased despite low inflation. I guess some things keep going up anyways. This graphic really shows what’s going on. Personally, I think we are screwing up the inflation. Companies and individuals.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      True, inflation may be low, but the cost of certain goods continue to skyrocket.

      Reply
  14. A Frugal Family's Journey

    Yes…in addition to paying a higher price for everything from bread to gasoline, our family income has barely inched forward. We are seeing the impact from both slow to no wage increase and higher cost of living. Add to that, we live in Orange County, California. To have the success we have had these past years is only due to continual frugality. :)
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