In 2004, the median household income was $44,334 – nearly nine grand less than today’s estimates. Unemployment sat at around 5.4 percent for much of that year, and it was a year of memorable events like Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl incident and Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy winning streak.
While 10 years may not seem like that long ago, this past decade has brought some remarkable changes. Along with those changes have come novel expenses. While some of these expenses are designed strictly for our entertainment and are therefore non-necessities, others have served as substitutes for more expensive products. Here are some expenses you may have in your budget today that you most likely didn’t have just a decade ago.
1. Social Media Management
Back in the days when Facebook was called “The Facebook,” you may have been on MySpace, social networking with a few friends and co-workers. But these days, you can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Vine, LinkedIn, Google+, or Instagram — just to name a few. This way of communicating has become so increasing popular that some professionals and celebrities hire social media professionals to manage this aspect of their careers.
The cost of social media management can weigh heavy on the wallet. A Forbes article indicates that social media popularity generally cost around $6,800. This price will get you around a million Twitter followers or a million YouTube views. Even if you don’t pay someone to do your social media networking, completing this networking yourself takes your time and time, of course, is money.
2. Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud-Computing, and High Speed DSL
In 2004, back when you could still “ask Jeeves” and internet speeds and capabilities were significantly less than what they are today, SaaS was not technologically possible. Now, you are able to pay a monthly or annual fee to access the right to use programs like Microsoft Office 365 or Salesforce. This has made it possible for individuals and small businesses to obtain these software programs at a lower up front cost as previously, some of this software required a large upfront investment.
To take advantage of SaaS, other cloud-computing components, and all the internet has to offer, consumers spend money upgrading their computing equipment and increasing their internet speeds.
3. Smartphones, Tablets, and Accessories
The first iPhone launched in June of 2007 and it changed the way we look at cell phones. Now, recent estimates indicate that around two-thirds (66.8 percent) of Americans own a smart phone, and about one-half own a tablet or e-reader. These devices cost between $100 for a budget smartphone and $1,000 for a higher-priced tablet. Additional accessories, such as bluetooth devices, headphones, cases, and styluses also came along with cell phones and tablets. Insurance plans and data plans for non-cell phone devices like e-readers and tablets are also costs that were not around a decade ago.
4. Apps and Ebooks
In 2004, the internet was still referred to as the “world wide web” and the ipod mini first came on the market. Mobile applications like weather, news, games, shopping assistants, calorie counters, ebooks, and magazines didn’t come until a few years later. Today, purchasing and downloading apps is an everyday occurrence for many people and it’s a cost that can add up quickly (a 99 cent purchase here and $1.99 there.) While these are additional expenses, these apps have provided substitutes for paperback books, CD-ROMs, and other expenses we had 10 years ago.
5. Hulu and Other Streaming Services
Back when Blockbuster was the number one video rental chain, streaming services like Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus were not available. Now, you pay around $8 per month for each one of these streaming services.
6. Baggage Fees
A decade ago, you could bring your luggage to the airport and check it for free, regardless of your choice airline. It wasn’t until 2008 that American Airlines imposed a “first bag check” fee on customers and other airlines followed suit. Today, many flights charge for pillows and blankets, as well as snacks — items that were complimentary for you 10 years ago.
7. Health Insurance Penalties
This year, if you don’t have health insurance, you have to pay a penalty fine on your tax return. The fee for 2014 equals of one percent of your yearly household income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (for a maximum not to exceed $285) — whichever adds up to a greater amount.
Back when movies like Supersize Me, The Butterfly Effect, and Shrek 2 were in theaters, the world was quite a bit different. These changes have resulted in new expenses, but they have also brought along convenience, efficiency, and connectivity.