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Changing cost of recreation

Jun 07, 2016 09:37AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

Recreation is a very positive word that we use to describe activities that are fun, filled also with potential exercise. These activities provide a buffer from our daily routine of work and living our daily lives. There is a cost for many of the activities in which we involve ourselves and our families. This expense has increased over the years similar to the hidden cost of inflation that we all notice in both our earning and retirement years.

This issue of Neighbors projects what recreation might look like in fifty years. One way to understand the implication of fifty years of change is to first look at what has happened over a similar time period in the past. From 1943 to 1993, we can view a fifty year period that will provide an understanding about some of the changes we can expect over the next fifty years and then understand how to prepare for such a change.


                                                    1943                                                        1993

Average New Home               $3,600.00                                              $113,200.00 

Average Annual Income       $2,000.00                                                $31,230.00 

Gallon of Gas                          15 cents                                                         $1.16 

Average House Rental              $40.00                                                     $532.00

Coca Cola                                  5 cents                                                    33 cents 

New Car Average                     $900.00                                               $12,750.00 

Tomato Soup 3/cans              25 cents                                                    98 cents 


Such increase in the cost of items is a hidden cost that is not often planned for as we look to future lifestyle needs. Fifty years of change automatically increases the cost of activities. In addition to the increased cost there is also the factor that free activities now have to be paid for. In 1943 there was no television. During my childhood television was free. At first programming consisted of only a few stations and they did not broadcast all day. Today, part of most people’s budget has to provide for cable or satellite TV that generates programming around the clock.

In 1943 there were no toll roads and all travel by automobile on expressways was free of cost. In addition there were no internet, web access, or apps which today all require some sort of annual cost. It is obvious that the cost of all these financial changes are an integral part of our life planning.

The application of these costs to recreation fifty years from now is worth examining. We know that if we plan for our children’s future and their education costs or if we plan for our own retirement, we need to start saving so that we can afford the increased cost of those experiences. Air travel was in its infancy in 1943. Today the ability to see any place in the world is very accessible but you need to have the money to provide for such an experience. Thus saving for both local and worldwide recreational experiences for ourselves or our family will require that we start to set some money aside today so that we will have the funds in the future to experience some wonderful recreational activities.

There are also many recreational activities that don’t automatically presume you have to pay for such experiences. Fifty years from now we would hope that being able to watch a beautiful sunset, being able to spend time at a butterfly farm or a zoo, or going bike riding on trails along the Fox River will continue to fill our recreational time.

Recreational time presumes that we all have our health and are physically fit to experience the various activities we want to pursue. In the same way that we put a small percentage of our annual income away so that we can have a better future, we need to eat well, exercise and physically focus on the kind of attributes we want to have fifty years from now. If the Fox Valley continues to be a desirable place to live, then there is no doubt that recreation will continue to be the way that we spend time together and experience the greatest joys of life…fun time spent with our family and our neighbors.

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