Do you ever take a look at the checking account after heading out to the movies or grabbing a bite to eat and wonder just how you spent so much? Does it feel like you’ve been going over budget more lately even though your lifestyle hasn’t changed? Well, there’s some good news and bad news. The good news: It’s not your fault. The bad news: It is happening.
The Hustle did a deep dive into the cost of several popular American pastimes and found that the cost of doing them is shooting up faster than the rate of inflation and much faster than American wages.
The Hustle looked at the cost of three of America’s most beloved pastimes — going to the movies, a baseball game and Disney World — in 1960 and compared the cost to 2022. On average, the cost of doing these things with a family has increased two or three times the rate of inflation. To afford them, the average American has to work twice as many hours as they would have in 1960.
In 1960, the median American family took home about $55.5k per year. Today’s median family makes more, at around $84k per year — but the purchasing power has declined. In other words, families might be technically making more money, but a dollar doesn’t go as far. Some of that is due to inflation, while some is simply companies testing the limits of how much people will pay for whatever they’re selling.
For example, the Hustle estimates that the average total cost for a family of four to go to the movies (tickets, concessions, etc.) in 2022 is about $68.73. The same thing in 1960 would cost $34.15, adjusted for inflation.
Same story for going to a ballgame. On average, a family of four will pay about $204.76 (the Hustle notes that ticket prices, concessions and parking costs vary widely by team, but $204.76 is the national average). In 1960, that cost was about $102.23, adjusted for inflation.
Inflation drives prices up over time. That’s to be expected. The problem is Americans’ paychecks aren’t going up at the same rate at those costs. The average American would have to work a little over three and a half hours to make enough to take their family to a baseball game in 1960. In 2022, they have to work a little over five hours. That adds up, especially if you’ve got kids at home.
This is all a long way of saying that making an average amount of money in America just ain’t what it used to be.