The Changes in Value of Stuff Over Generations

Posted by April Freund on May 1, 2017 1:00:00 PM
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As a mother of 5 young adults and teens it has amazed me as I have watched the change in attitudes toward the value of “things” that they purchase and use. 

When I think back to the turn of the century and how every article of clothing had to be hand stitched and all shoes were hand-made it gives me pause to see the approach our younger generation gives to “ownership” of things.  When they want a new outfit, they simply go to the mall and find one.  To think it took weeks/months to get a new suit at the turn of the century is a testament to the change in pace in the world today.  I recall researching what the term “Dressed to the 9’s” meant. One explanation is that it typically takes 9 yards of fabric to sew a new tux or suit.  Hence the saying “Dressed to the 9’s”.  

Since I was born in the 1960’s my generation as teens didn’t have nearly the disposable income that many of our young people do today.  We wouldn’t have dreamed of spending $5 a day for a coffee drink.  We wouldn’t have spent anything for a coffee drink.  We wanted albums, new clothes, gas for our cars and eating out was simply not a priority unless your parents were footing the bill.  Our youngest daughters 19 and 21 eat out almost every meal and have, since they were first able to drive.  It’s a social thing.  The cost of clothing is much lower due to the trading rules we have with overseas manufacturers and one would argue that the quality has lowered too.  However, we have noticed that some younger kids have no problem going to consignment stores for articles of clothing unless it’s for a special event. But it’s hard to watch their rooms fill up with so many articles of clothing that aren’t worn and probably will never be again. It’s the easy come, easy go mentality.

I can’t tell you how much loose change I’ve collected over the last 20 years cleaning up after 5 kids who don’t attribute any value to that form of currency.  They leave it all over the house, in the cars and simply don’t recognize that it adds up if they save it.  I’ve probably collected over $500 of our allowance paid to our kids because they simply didn’t see the value of the loose change.  I personally cannot walk past any money on the ground regardless if it’s a penny or a quarter.  I believe it gives good luck and also realize it all adds up.

So I’m hopeful that since many young people want to conserve our environment they will start with the basics of not hoarding clothes, saving on eating out so often and eventually understanding the value of coins.  It’s a lot to ask but one can at least hope.

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