16 Everyday Items Now Luxuries for the Middle Class

Stephanie Allen

Man standing near luxury car

Middle-class individuals and families used to easily afford life’s basics. Today, thanks to rising prices, these are becoming increasingly out of reach except for the upper class.

You're not alone if you’ve experienced sticker shock when paying for essentials that are now luxuries. These price hikes affect many, and they're not happy about it. 

1. Concert Tickets

credit: depositphotos

Fans from one or two generations ago recall going to concerts of A-list artists with affordable tickets and good seating. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

Concert tickets to see top-tier artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, and Drake cost hundreds of dollars or more. Concertgoers shouldn’t have to buy tickets expensive enough to pay rent or a mortgage to see their favorite musician in person. 

2. Sneakers 

Man buying shoes in thrift store
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Good-quality sneakers have always been a little more expensive than cheaper brands. Consumers were paying for both the name and quality.

Sneakers have become more of a status symbol and have spiked in price. Some of the most sought-after kicks – basketball shoes – easily cost more than $200. Owning more than one pair is a luxury. 

3. Single Income Families

Couples discussing about income
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Single-income families, with one parent as the breadwinner and the other taking care of the home and children, may have once been the norm. Now, it's become the exception. 

It’s hard to comfortably support a family on one income, requiring many families to have both adults holding down jobs. Unless incomes experience a dramatic rise, two-income families are here to stay. 

4. College Tuition

college campus
credit: depositphotos

The push to forgive student loans directly connects to college tuition costs. You’ve probably heard anecdotes about students working summer jobs to cover their tuition for one or two semesters.

Students today can work a summer job, and the amount earned would barely pay the cost of room and board for a single semester. The increasing costs of tuition have no end in sight. 

5. Dental Care

credit: depositphotos

A dental plan usually covers most basic dental care, like cleanings and fillings, in full. However, more complex procedures typically aren’t. 

Services like braces, veneers, and dental implants are frequently out of reach for middle and lower-income Americans because of the expense. Only high-income people can easily afford them. 

6. Movie Tickets 

credit: depositphotos

I’m old enough to remember when matinee movie tickets were $2.50 each and prime-time tickets were $4.50. Those prices seem quaint compared to current prices. 

A trip to the movies for two can easily cost $60 (including snacks and soda), and even more if you attend a dine-in theater. What was once a routine form of entertainment is now an occasional treat.

7. Quality Appliances 

Kitchen Appliances
credit: depositphotos

Some of the most reliable, durable appliances tend to be older models purchased years or decades ago. Although they may have been expensive when bought, their longevity makes them a real bargain. 

You’ll hear more than a few complain that their state-of-the-art appliances break down or malfunction, while the ones owned by their grandparents for decades work without a problem. 

8. Used Cars 

Man driving car
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Buying a used car has traditionally been the cheaper alternative to buying a new one. Since the supply chain issues that began in 2020, the price of preowned vehicles has increased exponentially. 

The supply chain issues have eased, but there are inventory shortages in some places. Used car prices are so high that buying a new car might be a better deal. 

9. Smartphones

Charging smartphone with wireless charger
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Some folks are dedicated to flip phones, but most cell phone owners have smartphones. The latest smartphones are sold at all price points. The ones with the best features also have the largest price tags. 

You can find a serviceable smartphone for less than $200. If you want the newest iPhone, be prepared to pay well over $1,000 for it. 

10. Hair Salons

hair at a salon
credit: depositphotos

A visit to the hair salon today is likely to take you aback. Say goodbye to the days of the $30 haircut, and say hello to hairdressing costs that run into the hundreds of dollars. 

In all fairness, hairdressers are skilled, highly-trained professionals who provide a valuable service to their clients. They deserve to be well-paid. Sadly, haircare is quickly becoming a luxury. 

11. Family Vacations

Family travel in car to sea beach
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Remember the Griswolds from National Lampoon’s Vacation? They packed up the family station wagon and embarked on (an eventful) cross-country trip. 

How often do you see entire families do that today? Not too many. The cost of gasoline, meals, and lodging make these old-fashioned road trips a thing of the past. 

12. Camping

Family trip caravan camping
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Traditional camping trips used to be pitching a tent and temporarily living without modern conveniences. It didn’t take a lot of money to get back to nature.

Camping has given way to glamping, with amenities like waterproof luxury tents, furniture, Wi-Fi, electricity, and televisions. It's like having an outdoor home. 

13. Cheap Cuts of Meat

Woman buying meat
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The types of meat and seafood bought were used to gauge someone's wealth. The well-off would buy filet mignon, lobster, and chicken breasts, while people of more modest means would buy cheaper cuts of meat like chicken wings, chicken things, and oxtails. 

For some reason, wealthy people are buying cheaper meats, and demand is increasing. Since demand is higher, the prices have gone up, and their availability has gone down. 

14. Gasoline 

credit: depositphotos

Anyone who drives gasoline-fueled vehicles can relate to the pain that ripples through their wallets when buying gas. Gas prices rise more each week, and there is little relief from price drops. 

In 1994, gas cost around a dollar per gallon, and in 2024, it’s about $3.70 per gallon nationwide. The more gas prices climb, the better those fully electric vehicles look. 

15. Home Improvements 

home improvements
credit: depositphotos

You probably have to hire a professional for home renovation projects unless you're a skilled builder. Home improvements have never been cheap, but like everything else, they cost more than they used to.

Depending on the size of the space and the type of renovation being done, home improvements cost tens of thousands of dollars. That’s not exactly pocket change. 

16. Rent 

Rent a room
credit: depositphotos

Property rental costs have gone up faster than wages can keep up with and faster than inflation. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any relief on the horizon. 

Making matters worse, renters can’t buy homes. They can't save for a down payment on a house because their rent is so high. Ironically, there’s a good chance their mortgage would be cheaper than their rent. 

15 Lucrative Jobs Making Over $100K Without a College Degree

Credit: Depositphotos

The tide has turned on higher education. Student debt is the financial albatross that dominates TikTok and Wall Street Journal headlines alike, and the idea of working nine-to-five cubicle jobs is just not very…Millennial. 

15 Lucrative Jobs Making Over $100K Without a College Degree

16 Things to Cut From Your Budget To Help You Save a Couple Thousand

Credit: AllaSerebrina/Depositphotos

Could you use a couple of thousand dollars in your bank account to pay bills or build a nest egg? Most would say yes. Saving that kind of money may seem daunting, but it’s easier than you realize. You probably spend money each day on things that are nice to have but that you don’t need. It may seem like a few dollars here and there, but those dollars add up over time. Reducing or cutting these things out of your budget quickly adds to big savings.  

16 Things to Cut From Your Budget To Help You Save a Couple Thousand

Leave a Comment