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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Podcast: Basics vs Luxuries -120 Years of Perspective

September 7, 2021

In this episode…

In today’s show, we zoom out and look at how much our lifestyles have changed in the last 20, 50, 100 years.

What did people used to spend their money on compared to today?  How much did people have left after paying their bills, and how has that changed over time?

These are important points because they help us see how to make the most of our situation today.


Listen to the show…

(or download the mp3 file here)


Discussion points…

  • What was life and household spending like in 1900?  (02:42)
  • Lifestyles, work changes, and purchasing power by 1950  (07:36)
  • How far our wealth and incomes stretch in the year 2000  (13:25)
  • Changes in lifestyle and where our money goes in 2021 (21:16)
  • Why it’s so hard to keep things in perspective  (25:03)
  • What can we learn from all this?  (28:00)
  • The internet makes everyone feel poor  (32:30)
  • Summary and final thoughts  (35:24)

Resources and stuff mentioned…

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Have something to add to this discussion?  Share your thoughts in the comments below…


14 Replies to “Podcast: Basics vs Luxuries -120 Years of Perspective”

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful podcast. I found your conversation helpful to put the balance of lives into perspective and to appreciate our values from a place of grateful understanding rather than a place of kardashian comparison and thoughtless fulfilment. I too draw from the wisdom of elders tales of survival and being ripped off. I continue searching towards making ethical and economic informed choices to live a more truthful lifestyle with economic freedom. Thank you for sharing your experiences and walking us thru timeline of human choice. I will be sharing your story with my adult children (mid/late 20’s) as food for thought as they live in the eye of covid19 pandemic.

    1. Thanks for your comment, much appreciated. Great to hear you enjoyed the convo and plan to pass on the perspective 🙂

  2. As soon as I heard you talk about the clothing spends I was seriously pissing myself laughing, “you start the year with clothing, you don’t start January 1st naked”, this should be your quote of the week ????. I can totally relate to what you were saying, my wife and I have spent under $400/year combined on clothing/shoes for the past 3 years and we frequently donate clothes to salvos so it’s possible. Keep up the good work mate ????

    1. Haha! I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, just a somewhat knee-jerk observation! Yeah it’s quite amazing how affordable most clothing is and how little need there is to actually buy new stuff. Good stuff Paul, and cheers.

  3. Hi Guys,

    As usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head! I remember being the cool family on the block when we got a VHS VCR…

    Determining what is core, essential and luxury keeps things in perspective – and it can be a challenge! And looking back to how we grew up in the 70s/80s/90s, it seems like another world entirely. FIRE just wasn’t something on the radar back then…. It’s taken many ups and downs throughout life, work and friends/family to realise what’s important, and many hours to figure out what I wanted to do differently from my parents’ generation, and grandparents. What I would now consider as ‘core’ or ‘essential’ were either not around back then, or was only limited to the wealthy!

    We can learn a lot from those previous generations in terms of values and living. That, combined with a higher disposable income these days means many of us will soon have the means to worry less – financially, anyway. The technology might change, but staying true to those values to me is something to aspire to! Here’s hoping…

    1. Well put and great reminder Jackie!

      When you think about when certain things were invented it’s quite amazing how little time many things have been around – the internet is a great example.

  4. Thank you for the podcast it definitely make me feel much better doing FIRE and how privileged I am now as compared to the past. You’ve mentioned about lifestyle inflation as your salary increases but I’m starting to realise I’m getting “lifestyle inflation” too as a result of being ungrateful and even not even realising how much better life is now vs when I was a kid. Sometimes I forget how privileged I are and I focus more on how much I lack or “if only I earn x amount of money to increase my savings rate”. Probably a novice mistake on FIRE to keep on optimising to achieve my goal and forgetting how to enjoy the journey that FIRE is not all about numbers but actually living life no matter what type of FIRE you choose.

    1. That’s a great point you make Nikki – a lot of our lifestyle inflation is because we get told we need all these new things to live a satisfying life, which just isn’t true.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. So right! I remember watching a splendid youtube video from ‘great depression cooking’ where the lady there described how they couldn’t afford chopping boards so they cut things above the pot and pans in their hands. I still can’t imagine not being able to buy a chopping board if I wanted one.

    1. Wow that’s interesting, great example. Sometimes I think about how many things qualify as ‘problems’ and ‘hardship’ today, when really, most of us in Australia have no experience with true hardship. Our idea of hardship has been made softer and softer.

  6. Thanks for this interesting retrospective. I especially liked your comments about the differing CPI basket, the sheer and obscene waste of “fast fashion” and the impact of the almost insidious emergence of modern technology. I assume it must be you, Pat, that said you remember get the landline telephone connected. Within the last the last 40 years I think this would be a very unusual occurrence. By 1970 most homes in Australia had a phone but in the last decade this has reversed in favour of mobiles

    1. Hey Chris, glad you liked the show 🙂

      Yep that was Pat with the phone line comment. The CPI stuff is very interesting and something I feel people want to dismiss because it doesn’t fit the story they’re telling themselves “life is so expensive, things are tough” etc.

  7. Really enjoyed the podcast this week and what a refreshing topic. I found it very pleasant change to switch my thoughts to being thankful for what we have. It’s all too easy (especially in lockdown!) to go down the rabbit hole of YouTube and get distracted looking at things we don’t need for a better life!

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