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Modern lifestyles - progress?
Old 12-04-2014, 10:42 AM   #1
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Modern lifestyles - progress?

From a book I am reading:

Quote:
The average US family home size in 1950 was 983 sqft. The average US family home size in 2011 was 2,840 sqft. Not only are our homes three times the size, but the size of families has shrunk from an average of 3.37 people in 1950, to just 2.6 today. Why do we need all this space? Well, the $22 billion-dollar-a-year home storage and organization industry may provide the answer, we need the space for all our stuff!

We spend millions on products to make our lives easier so we don't have to scrub our toilets anymore (along with hundreds of other time/effort saving products), and then we buy more useless gizmos - powders and shakes and ab-rollers or fitness club memberships. In an effort to make our lives easier it seems like we've created three problems for every one we've tried to solve. Nowhere is this one step forward, two steps back thinking more evident than in how many of us treat physical activity. It becomes one more chore added to our crammed to do lists. We're so pressed for time that taking care of ourselves is often the first thing to get bumped.
Mostly preaching to the choir here, but funny to reflect on lifestyle "progress."
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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To jump on the storing junk problem, only in USA do people stuff their garage full of $500 of useless junk and have the $50,000 worth of vehicles outside.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:15 AM   #3
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It seems we get to design our lifestyles. We can choose wisely or poorly. The choices are much better then what was on offer in the 1950's.

Then there is lifestyle redesign. If you don't like the clutter, give it away.

I would describe life in the USA today as 2 steps forward, 1 back. Up and to the right.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:19 AM   #4
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Are you by chance reading "The Overspent American" by Juliet Schor? If so, or even regardless, after finishing the book, I was struck by how much lifestyle creepage has occurred since the 1950's. Dishwashers, microwaves, TV's, multiple autos, full clothing closets and shoe racks, traveling vacations, even A/C, were either unheard of, or clear luxury items back then.

And begs the question, of course, on why anyone should be surprised that so many Americans feel strapped today, debt wise, compared to back then.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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I am very proud of the fact that I have a two car garage, and I park both our cars in it. A rarity in my neighborhood.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:40 AM   #6
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Um, whose fault is it? Maybe look in the mirror? If people want to stop doing this over-accumulating, they should just stop doing it. It doesn't take an act of Congress not to live in a too-big house with too much junk cluttering it up.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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We be visiting the 1950's family farm tomorrow near the Iowa border - 800 sq ft (4 people back then) - now not then - hot and cold water, indoor plumbing, AND electricity so the satellite tv doesn't need a windmill and battery like the old radio.

And a refrigerator not an ice box.

heh heh heh - 10 steps forward. Did I mention that my RMD taxes this year are more than first years ER expenses 21 years ago.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredAndFree View Post
Are you by chance reading "The Overspent American" by Juliet Schor?
Nope, but I've read that too. Reading

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Old 12-04-2014, 12:22 PM   #9
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Um, whose fault is it? Maybe look in the mirror? If people want to stop doing this over-accumulating, they should just stop doing it. It doesn't take an act of Congress not to live in a too-big house with too much junk cluttering it up.
No question. But it's surprising that so many seemingly opt for an easier lifestyle that only makes life more complex, stressful and expensive?

In all fairness, it took DW and I until well into our 30's to truly realize how profound 'less if more' really was/is, quality over quantity, etc. We once thought we wanted fancy houses, cars, clothes and all the latest gizmos & gadgets, fortunately our innate LYBM instincts kept us from going down that path.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:55 PM   #10
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Our old homestead is about 1100 sq.ft., which is 110 sq.ft. bigger than it was when originally built by my maternal great-grandparents. It was then passed down to my maternal grandparents. It was originally a one-bedroom house. It was big enough back then for 2 adults and 4 kids, my mother included. In 1950, it was sold to my paternal grandparents, who moved the kitchen to make room for a second bedroom, eliminating the formal dining room. In '56, it passed down to my folks, who did some minor updating and remodeling. My 2 siblings, my folks, and myself lived here very comfortably, though slightly compactly, for many years. About 20 years after my siblings had been gone from home, we tore off the original, enclosed sun-porch, which had served as my sister's bedroom, and replaced it with a new addition that is almost twice as big as the original.

The only other major changes in the past 70+ years, other than those mentioned above and new appliances and such to replace the old ones, is the addition of a microwave oven, a stand-alone upright freezer, color TV, energy efficient windows and doors, and some new floor coverings.

Now it's just my elderly Mom and myself, and even with all if our schtuff, the old place seems pretty darn big! I sure wouldn't want anything bigger than this, and if I ever decided to build a new home, it would most likely be about half this size....around 400-500 sq.ft., but with a big garage/workshop.

We've always enjoyed the simple life, and still do so, maybe now more than ever!
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
No question. But it's surprising that so many seemingly opt for an easier lifestyle that only makes life more complex, stressful and expensive?

In all fairness, it took DW and I until well into our 30's to truly realize how profound 'less if more' really was/is, quality over quantity, etc. We once thought we wanted fancy houses, cars, clothes and all the latest gizmos & gadgets, fortunately our innate LYBM instincts kept us from going down that path.
Wait a minute, didn't I see a post awhile back about a fancy kitchen update?
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:49 PM   #12
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I am very proud of the fact that I have a two car garage, and I park both our cars in it. A rarity in my neighborhood.
Yep. Us too... and we're close to the only ones. Several families manage to squeeze one car in the 2 car garage... but almost no one has both cars in it.

I live in the house I grew up in (bought from my dad). It was plenty big for a family of 5 and was considered upper middle class/large home then. It's still plenty big for a family of 4. No lifestyle creep based on how I grew up in the 60's since it's the same 1960's house.

DH grew up in 3 br, 1ba,row house about 1200sf. He was one of 6 kids -so a family of 8. 5 boys shared a room that was about 10x14, his sister had a tiny room (6x10), his parents had the decent sized master. He grew up unscathed.
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:51 PM   #13
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I'm think the "new" house where I grew up back in the early 50's had about 800 sf of living space (at the most) for a family of 4. It had 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a living room, a connecting hallway, a combination kitchen/dining room and a one car garage. The garage became the storage area pretty quick.

The house the DW and I live in today is only 2000 sq ft and we really don't store very much inside the actual house. But we do have about 6000 sf of external storage for our "stuff" and my toys.

Of course, back in the 50's, we couldn't afford much more than one cheap car and not many extra things so we didn't really need a lot of extra space back then.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:04 PM   #14
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Most people I know generally keep one less car in their garage than it's "suppose" to be used for.

We have a 3 car garage, but keep two cars in it PLUS stuff. The lawn mower is in there, the snow blower, lots of gardening tools, and a fridge.

I'd be happy with a two car garage IF there was a nice area in there for other stuff. I've seen this a few times, but the vast majority of garages don't have extra space. I suppose this is so builders building the minimum and call it a X car garage.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:20 PM   #15
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I am very proud of the fact that I have a two car garage, and I park both our cars in it. A rarity in my neighborhood.
Same here, and I don't understand why. Every home in this development has at least a one car garage. Most are two car garages. We were thrilled to have it - the car and truck stay cleaner longer, they don't have the deterioration from exposure to extremes of temperature and UV rays so they last longer, no more scraping ice & snow or getting into a heat-soaked car in summer. This is the first time either of us has had that luxury.

And yet most people leave their second most valuable possession outside to store junk in the garage. I must be abnormal because I just don't get it.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:36 PM   #16
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"physical activity. It becomes one more chore added to our crammed to do lists."

It does seem funny to pay gym fees, buy special outfits, etc. to do physical work, while turning up our noses at actual physical labor.

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Old 12-04-2014, 02:40 PM   #17
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No question. But it's surprising that so many seemingly opt for an easier lifestyle that only makes life more complex, stressful and expensive?

In all fairness, it took DW and I until well into our 30's to truly realize how profound 'less if more' really was/is, quality over quantity, etc. We once thought we wanted fancy houses, cars, clothes and all the latest gizmos & gadgets, fortunately our innate LYBM instincts kept us from going down that path.
When DH joined me in ER, we started saying to each other, "if you want that (whatever), you go ahead and get that (whatever)." I do think people who have worked hard their whole lives don't have to answer to anyone when it comes to having what they want if they can afford it. We found out we really didn't want most of the stuff after all, but what we do want, we get, and damn the kids' inheritance

But isn't it nice to learn that finally we are in the "cool crowd" according to some of these recent frugalist authors. ComEd tells me today that our electric use is 25 percent below that of our most energy efficient neighbors. Pin a rose on my nose!
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #18
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We park in our two-cars in our two-car garage as well unless I have some building project going that I need the cover. That said, we still have a lot of "stuff".

One thing that struck me when we visited relatives in Spain and Italy numerous years ago is that they didn't have as much "stuff" as we do, but what they did have was of very high quality. I think of it as Walmart and Christmas Tree Shop's fault.
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:12 PM   #19
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Wait a minute, didn't I see a post awhile back about a fancy kitchen update?
SQOTD: Who do you think runs our household, me or DW? Given the costs, I was perfectly happy with our outdated kitchen...

We also park both our cars in our 2-car garage. It is curious why so many neighbors don't. The Clampetts (as I call them, to DW's partial chagrin) next door have 3 cars in the driveway, none in their 2-car garage...still packed with boxes after more than 5 years in the house.
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:27 PM   #20
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We park our 2 cars in the 4 car garage.
My excuse for such a big garage, we bought it from a physician who was divorcing. Since we don't have but a tiny attic, it's a good thing to have.

Sometimes I wonder about taking all this stuff with me. Where I'm going, it won't survive the heat.
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