9 Items That Were Affordable 50 Years Ago That Now Only Wealthy People Can Buy

Once-affordable things have sadly become luxuries.

Man looking overwhelmed by money. Golubovy, Breeze393 / CanvaPro

Everyone seems to be struggling with money nowadays — it’s become the center of most of our lives, problems, and anxiety-ridden thoughts. Research shows that the average single person would need a $100,000 salary to comfortably afford all of the necessities of life, a number that many middle-class people (and families) don't even come close to. 

The reality becomes even starker when you think about all of the things that we have been forced to give up in recent years as prices rise and wages don't.


Here are 9 things that were affordable 50 years ago but only the wealthy can buy now: 

1. Tickets for concerts and sporting events

The average cost of a concert ticket has skyrocketed over the past decade — increasing from $60 in 2010 to over $150 in 2024

9 Items That Were Affordable 50 Years Ago That Only Wealthy People Can BuyPhoto: halfpoint / Canva Pro


Not only has the increase in these costs affected musical performances, but sporting events also tend to share the same spaces. Going to a baseball game would only cost you around $20 ten years ago, but now has increased to over $50. 

For single people or individuals without kids, these events might still be accessible, but for families making less than six figures, it’s close to impossible. This price disparity for once-communal events is contributing to the sacrifice that many families are having to make today — giving up fun time spent together outside of the home, for the bare necessities and bills. 

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2. Recreational and travel sports teams for children

When you brainstorm hobbies that only the wealthy can afford, what comes to mind? Horse racing? Polo? Yachting? 


Well, the sad reality of our modern world is that even recreational sports — like baseball, soccer, and swimming — have gotten too expensive for families to afford. Not only have “rec teams” become more competitive and exclusive to children who’ve gotten extremely good at their chosen sport, but growing financial barriers now prevent lower-income kids from playing. 

The average cost per child for a rec team sport is between $100 and $500. And that's not including extra equipment or transportation to games.



3. Quality clothing pieces with sustainable materials

Not only have average apparel prices risen by over 5% in the past few years, it’s becoming more and more difficult to purchase “quality” pieces. In the world of fast fashion and Amazon Prime, it’s become almost impossible to find 100% quality pieces made from materials like cotton, wool, or silk. 


Online clothing retailers like Shein, whose clothes are some of the cheapest on the market, are made from materials like polyester and lycra. Not only have these materials been shown to irritate your skin, but they also contribute to climate change in a variety of ways while being manufactured. 

It’s a vicious cycle — richer families have access to clothing that’s healthier to wear, longer lasting, and better for the climate, while lower-income people are forced to purchase and repurchase garments that are bad for everyone. 

4. Purchasing a ‘starter’ home 

The sad reality is that almost nobody can afford to buy a home today. With rising costs of living and stagnant wages, it’s relatively impossible. 

First-time home buyers must make an average annual salary of almost $80,000 to afford the typical U.S. starter home — and that’s assuming you’re living in an area with a low cost of living and affordable real estate market. In the 1990s, the first-time homebuyer’s annual salary was just above $50,000


9 Items That Were Affordable 50 Years Ago That Now Only Wealthy People Can BuyPhoto: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

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5. Vacations 

Considering low- and middle-class families in the U.S. today are struggling to just pay for the bare necessities, it makes sense that vacations are being put on the back burner. Rather than saving for future vacations, many are budgeting just to afford rent, childcare, and groceries.


Commenters on Reddit shared childhood vacations that are simply no longer possible, from trips to Disney to ski vacations. Not even the plane tickets are doable. 

6. Nutritional, healthy, and organic foods & supplements 

Families are not focusing on purchasing the healthiest, most organic food options for their children — not because they’re unhealthy or lazy, but because they can’t afford it. As if parents aren’t already feeling that guilty burden of food nutrition and insecurity, there’s also the input of millionaires in the food industry to add fuel to the fire. 

I mean, why wouldn’t we all just eat sugary cereal for every meal, right? 


Not only are American families not getting enough food — over 53% of adults say they don’t have access to affordable food — but they’re not getting the right kinds of food either. Fresh produce, healthy meats, and daily supplements are a luxury now, with grocery hauls on TikTok being the new “desirable” trend. 

7. Privacy

Middle-class Americans can’t afford homes — so where are they living? Apartments, condos, their parent’s houses, even shelters.

While these places are often the only affordable option, they are also void of privacy, whether that be closeness to your neighbors or your parents' continual input. Money might not buy happiness, but it can buy land, privacy, and room from your neighbors, which might just be the same thing. 


8. Healthcare costs 

Healthcare costs have turned into a completely absurd expense for many families, even those who are insured through their jobs. Co-pays for employer-sponsored health insurance can be close to $200 a month, while individual marketplace plans linger closer to the $500 baseline.

The truth is that the better your job, the better your coverage is likely to be. It’s why the rich continue to get richer — they’re paying less for a million things, including healthcare. 

9. Random maintenance bills and routine living costs 

Housing, transportation, food, food, healthcare, entertainment … there are a million things that have been influenced by rising costs of living. Families might make a “respectable” income — at least, according to their parents — but it’s simply not enough to pay for what they need, let alone unexpected or emergent bills. 


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango, focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.