6 Money Problems Our Grandparents Never Had

By Sarah Winfrey on 21 August 2017 0 comments

Life has changed quite a bit over the past 75 years. Sometimes, it's hard for us to think about what life was like for our grandparents and great-grandparents all those years ago. This can be especially true when it comes to money.

Financial problems are not immune to changing times. As the times have changed, so have the issues and challenges we've had to deal with. While our grandparents and great-grandparents surely had their share of financial problems, there are some they simply never had to face.

1. Online identity theft

Identity theft has been around as long as there have been identities to steal. But, since our grandparents didn't have the internet (at least until they were much older), identity theft was not as big of a concern as it is today. Since information wasn't digital, no one could hack into a database to steal credit card numbers, Social Security data, and other personal identification details. Our grandparents didn't have to peruse their credit reports for cards, loans, and other lines of credit that had been fraudulently taken out in their names.

Today, we have to be proactive about protecting ourselves from fraud. According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research, 6.5 percent of consumers experienced identity fraud in 2016, a number that continues to rise every year. The same report from the previous year found the average incident cost was $1,585.

Though our financial institutions are looking out for us, we have to be wary about where we use our credit cards online, and we have to pull those yearly credit reports, just in case. Every year, we have to deal with the potential for tax fraud, and we must constantly weigh whether it's worthwhile to share our information online in return for whatever goods and services we are getting in exchange. (See also: 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen)

2. Credit cards

Our grandparents and great-grandparents simply didn't have or use credit cards in anywhere near the same capacity as we do today. For the most part, their mentality was this: Either they had the money to buy what they needed, or they didn't. If they didn't, they simply went without. This straightforward approach to money meant they were probably better at budgeting than many of us are today.

Now, according to the Federal Reserve, 70 percent of Americans have at least one credit card, with the average being 2.6 cards according to Gallup. In houses that carry credit card debt, a NerdWallet study found the average amount to be a whopping $16,425 as of 2017. As a nation, that's a grand total of $764 billion that we owe on our cards. (See also: The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt)

Our grandparents didn't have to deal with credit card debt, but they also missed out on many of the benefits of credit cards, like points, miles, and cash back programs. (See also: 14 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About)

3. Student loans

The first federal student loans in the United States were offered in 1958, under the National Defense Act. The institution of student loans simply missed most of our grandparents' generation. Now, according to Student Loan Hero, 44.2 million Americans are dealing with student loan debt, and repayment is so difficult that it is a crisis for many people.

In homes that carry student loan debt, NerdWallet found the average amount owed is over $50,000. Since 1985, inflation has seen the cost of college fees and tuition rise by nearly 500 percent. It's no wonder we have to take out loans to pay for school.

While our grandparents didn't have to deal with these enormous student loans, there was a trade-off: They also found it much harder to go to college. Loans today make it easier for people to get the education they want or need to pursue their dreams, so we have more educational opportunities than our grandparents did. But, that opportunity comes at a steep price. (See also: 7 Unique Ways Millennials Are Dealing With Student Loan Debt)

4. High health care costs

Getting quality medical care didn't always cost as much as it does now. In 1958, the average person spent $134 per year on health care costs (and many of our grandparents were born before that, when costs were even lower). Even if you adjust for inflation, that's only around $830 by today's standards. In 2016, the average person spent $10,345 dollars on health care. That's a massive leap.

It shouldn't be a surprise that health insurance is a huge debate in our country, because most people can't afford this much out of pocket. Health care costs have gone up for many reasons, including the advancement (and expense!) of technology, the high cost of becoming a doctor, and the drain of long hospital stays and drawn out illnesses. Our grandparents and great-grandparents may not have had such high health care costs, but again, there was a trade-off: They also didn't have access to the advanced technology and treatments that we have today. (See also: The One Question You Need to Answer to Choose the Best Plan on the Health Care Marketplace)

5. Saving for retirement

In our grandparents' day, many jobs came with pensions. You worked a certain number of years, or until you reached a certain age, and the company let you retire with plenty of money to live out the rest of your life. It wasn't up to you to figure out a 401(k), the various types of IRAs, and more. Instead, you invested in a company, and that company took care of you when you left the working world. (See also: If You're Lucky Enough to Receive a Pension, Here Are 6 Things You Need to Do)

Now, we have to invest for ourselves, because pensions are disappearing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1990, 42 percent of private industry employees who worked full-time had a pension. By 2012, that number was down to 22 percent. And it's still falling. Companies aren't looking out for our retirement anymore, so we have to do it ourselves.

While pensions had many perks, they didn't give workers the flexibility that we have today in planning for retirement. Now, we can choose how to invest our retirement savings, and exactly how much we put into those accounts. Although funding our retirement takes a lot more work these days, we at least have the benefit of more control and flexibility with our savings. (See also: 4 Retirement "Rules of Thumb" That Actually Work)

6. Rising food costs

Things cost more now than they did in our grandparents' day. While we also make more money than they did, it's not enough to keep up with the rising cost of everyday life. Since 2003, food and drink costs have risen by 36 percent. Our earnings, on the other hand, have only gone up 28 percent.

A dozen eggs only cost $0.60 in 1950. By 2010, that cost was $1.79 per dozen, and it's only getting higher. Sure, that's one small item. However, when you multiply that by all of your groceries, that's a significant change between the prices our grandparents paid and the ones we pay now.

The silver lining to those rising food costs is that we now have many more options in where and how we purchase groceries, which gives us a chance to find the best deals. Apart from the grocery store, you can do a cost comparison with your local farmers market or wholesale retailer, like Costco. Recent years have also seen a boom in community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares, in which you receive farm-fresh, seasonal produce (and sometimes dairy!) for a fraction of what you'd pay at the store. Today, you can even save money by having your groceries delivered right to your doorstep. (See also: 10 Affordable Alternatives to the Grocery Store)

We also have more ways to find savings on those rising food costs. Apart from good, old-fashioned coupon clipping, there are numerous apps and websites (such as Ibotta, SavingStar, and Checkout 51) that offer stellar deals and cash back on grocery purchases. (See also: The 8 Shopping Apps That'll Actually Save You Money)

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