13 Things Everyone Had in the 70s and 80s – That Are Now Considered Luxuries

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Have you ever heard your dad go on a tirade about how things were so much better back in his day? You probably laughed and told him he was out of touch, but if you think about it, he might have had a point.

The truth is, every generation thinks the way they did it was the best. And maybe they were right about a few things. If you ask people from the ’70s and ’80s what were the best parts of those decades, they might give you these answers. How many of these outdated trends do you wish were still around today?

1. Local Butchers and Bakeries

Local butcher shop
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Back in the ’70s and ’80s, many neighborhoods had local butcher shops and bakeries where people would get their meat and bread. With the rise of the modern grocery store, consumers no longer have to make multiple stops for their groceries. As a result, these mom-and-pop butcher shops have fallen by the wayside.

Today, these niche shops are geared toward hipsters looking to overspend on foreign steaks and gourmet cookies.

2. Affordable Apartments and Rentals

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Apartments were initially designed to provide affordable living while saving money for future home purchases. In the past decade, rental prices have skyrocketed, with some monthly rental fees costing more than some mortgages.

The rising demand for housing and urbanization have led to renters needing help to pay their bills after the first of the month. More and more renters are leaving city centers and venturing out to the suburbs for more affordable apartment prices.

3. Furniture Made From Real Wood

Furniture made from real wood
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The next time you visit your grandparents’ house, take a good look at their furniture. If they haven’t re-decorated in the past 40 years, odds are their furniture is made of solid wood. That was how furniture was made back in the day, and it was still affordable.

If you want a real wood dresser today, you’ll have to spend a fortune. Your other option is cheap particle board from a discount furniture store like Ikea.

4. Affordable Air Travel

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I wish I had been around to experience air travel in the 1970s. A flight on a plane used to include free meals, free checked bags, extra legroom, and top-notch service.

Today, we’re jammed into the cabin like sardines, have to pay for the slightest convenience, and deal with constant delays, all while paying a premium price.

5. Durable Home Appliances

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There is a saying that goes, “They don’t make them like they used to.” That might be the most accurate statement about older home appliances. My grandpa has a refrigerator from the early 1980s that still works just as well as it did when he bought it.

Somewhere along the line, in the past 20 years, we have adopted a disposable culture. We’re quick to throw away household appliances and buy new ones without insisting appliance companies make a quality product.

6. Attending a Sporting Event

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Taking the family out to a baseball game was a fun way to spend the weekend. A family of four could get some hot dogs, sodas, and souvenirs and catch a game without breaking the bank.

Unfortunately, that’s a thing of the past due to the commercialization of sports. This has driven up the cost of single-game tickets. After you factor in entrance fees, parking fees, and ballpark snacks, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars for a family to attend a sporting event.

7. College Education

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The cost of attending college has risen dramatically over the past 50 years, and it’s too bad average salaries haven’t kept up. In fact, tuition fees have gone up 180% since 1980, making a college education a pipe dream for many aspiring students.

The result? Too many young college grads are graduating with crippling debt in the form of student loans. Or they are choosing other options like trade schools.

8. Company-Funded Retirement Packages

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Prior generations had the luxury of receiving comprehensive pension plans as part of their employment. These benefits are rare these days, with many individuals contributing to their 401(k) on their own.

Those who aren’t financially savvy would love the luxury of having their retirement planned for them. Instead, many workers wait until it’s too late to start investing and are beyond when it finally comes the time to retire.

9. Reasonably-Priced Healthcare

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Healthcare costs have been a heavily debated topic for the past couple of decades. What was once a standard service has turned into a financial burden for many families. Some individuals have also chosen to forgo the service altogether.

The cost of basic procedures and medicine has surpassed inflation, leaving many Americans struggling to afford basic needs like insulin. It’s a crisis that needs adjusting, but that is a topic for another conversation.

10. Tickets to Theme Parks

Disney World
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Has anyone been to a major theme park recently? I looked up the cost of a one-day pass to Disneyland and was shocked to find that it can range from $100 to $200. That’s for one ticket. How can a family afford a day at the park once you add gas, parking, snacks, and souvenirs?

In comparison, a ticket in 1975 was only $6. If you factor in inflation, the $6 in 1975 equates to about $35 in 2024. That’s a major increase, making a trip to Disney quite a luxury today.

11. Full-Service Gas Stations

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Can you imagine how nice it would be to pull into a gas station and have an attendant fill up your tank and clean your windows? That was a common practice in the 1970s. You probably didn’t bat an eye at the bill because gas didn’t cost $5 per gallon back then.

Today, I have a mini panic attack every time I go to a gas station because I’m worried it will bankrupt me. Not only that, I have to deal with rude cashiers inside and dirty bathrooms.

12. Record Stores and Book Shops

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I am old enough to have experienced the end of the local record store. I can remember listening to snippets of new releases and digging through the used CD bins.

Then streaming came out, and iconic record stores like Sam Goody and Tower Records went under because no one wanted to buy CDs anymore. Many will argue that the easiness of streaming is a luxury, but the communal record store was a special place. Spending an afternoon with your friends discovering new music is an experience the younger generation will never have.

13. Live Concerts

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There was once a time when teenagers could afford big-name concerts by saving up their allowances and earnings from their part-time jobs. In fact, young fans could afford to follow these acts on tour, seeing them perform in multiple cities and venues.

Nowadays, you have to take a second mortgage out of your home to buy your kid a ticket to see Taylor Swift, and even then, you’ll sit a quarter mile away.


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