Evolution of the Household: 1950’s to today.

Source: kaleazy.com via Rachel on Pinterest


Infographic from Kaleazy.

Ever wonder why so many of us struggle with debt when our parents, or even grandparents, never had so much as a credit card? I thought this was an interesting infographic to share with you to shed some light on how family living has changed over two generations. We are now:

  • living in bigger homes with fewer people
  • saving less and spending more on non-necessities

No wonder a lot of us are stressed out with debt and clutter.

One beef with this infographic: the threading of the change, or decline, in family living with increase in women in the workforce. I’m a lefty freak with my head in the clouds because I think the Swedish model of parental leave and job flexibility could be the answer for having it all.



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  • We have this too in Finland. Though maternal leave is 9 months, and the father can use his paternal leave at the same time, which is great – I can’t imagine what it would have been like during the first weeks after giving birth to our baby, had my husband not been there too. Then there is parental leave, which either one can take, and if the father has the two last weeks, then he gets an additional “daddy month”. Then, of course, both have the right to take time off from work until the child is three years old AND work short days or weeks until the child finishes second grade -but this is done at the parents’ own cost. My husband took off extra two months before our daughter turned three as it was the last chance. He has also worked 4-day weeks otherwise and continues to do so.

    There was a proposition for a “6+6+6” model, which meant that mother would get 6 months, and then the father 6 months, and then they could decided who wanted to take the last six months. I’m glad it didn’t happen because I think it would seriously hamper breast feeding, if mothers went to work after six months. And it’s not like fathers don’t have the chance to keep the parental leave now if they want to. I don’t like that the choice would have been taken away from the family. I think it’s only natural that the mother stays home more in the beginning because she is breast feeding. Anyway, I don’t think it’s the right kind of equality between sexes to force people to either stay home or go to work -let them choose who wants to stay home and who wants to work. But anyway, we have things pretty great here compared to many places, but it wasn’t always like this. When our parents had us they had something like 2 months of maternity leave. If you couldn’t take your newborn baby to kindergarten, you could only quit your job (/which was what my mom did..)

  • The thing that really struck me is how would we all be living if none of us had credit cards like our grandparents. It made me think how different my lifestyle would be without credit cards. Could you imagine if we all had to pay cash for everything like our grandparents?? The amount of money people spend on non necessities would drastically decline for sure!!

    • It certainly has for me and all the other people who follow the Dave Ramsey financial plan. My husband and I haven’t used a credit card in three years and we don’t plan on ever using one again. Of course when you adopt a minimalist lifestyle anyway it’s not so hard. We make do with what we have and buy only what we truly want or need with cash and spend more time doing family activities like going to the park, riding bikes, and a myriad of other free things that just happen to also be improving our quality of life since we are losing weight doing them.

      Somebody out there is watching way too much TV though, because I’m not watching my full 8 hours so someone is obviously taking up my slack!

  • Wow. This is nuts. We try to live in a small home (easier to clean!! Less to do!) and well within our means, as well as saving lots. They definitely had something going for them back in the 50’s that we can learn from!

  • I live in a small city surrounded by huge Victorian homes, and I really believe that a lot of these trends are cyclical. Once upon a time moms didn’t “work”, but they didn’t raise their children, either. My family’s lifestyle more closely resembles the 1950’s, though (in fact our under 1,000 s.f. house was built then). After taxes and contributions to insurance and retirement, my husband’s take-home pay is a little bit more than that 1950’s median. By today’s standards it’s ridiculous, but we’re doing it. That isn’t to say I enjoy all of it, but by being accustomed to a simpler lifestyle I feel like we can weather just about anything the economy throws our way. I think a lot of people are starting to yearn for simpler times.

  • Wow its a little depressing to find out that my husband makes as much as the median household income from the 80’s. The millitary isn’t known for paying well but thats ok we do live well on what he brings home especially since I dont work. I’m lucky to be able to stay at home to raise our child and thats what really matters to us. The only reason a more modern pay sounds apealling is because we want out of debt so badly and want to save. We are working on it, its an uphill climb and is going to take some time to dig out of but it will happen. Minimalism helps a ton!!! I wish we would have had the attitude of our Grandparents from the get go and been able to stay out of this rut in the first place. In spite of it it will allow us to teach our son about smart spending and saving. I cannot believe how much a dozen eggs cost in the 50s, are we sure thats right? That can’t possibly be right? And what about the cost of round steak in the 70s? I know thats not right, thats how much round steak costs now.

  • I am intrigued by what Pony Rider says and actually have dreamed of being in Sweden (didn’t know about Finland) as I had to begin work after I had my babies. I was VERY lucky to have stayed home for 11 months with my first and 7 months with my second before I worked from home with them. But, that was with no job to return to. I can’t imagine sending my 6 WEEK old to day care as millions of Americans do. I cried daily at 11 months and quickly found a way to work parttime and then not at all again when my second was born. I really don’t understand why we put so little value on families here in the US. I’ve also heard that Finland has one of the most successful education systems in the world. Hmmm! You’d think that other countries like the US would look to success stories (time proven methods) and learn…

    Thanks Rachel for this simple visual of comparison. It definitely spells it out. I had to share it!

  • One big problem – and I am guilty of it myself – is that young and newly married adults believe that they should have everything their parents and grandparents have. What they (and I) didn’t realize is that it took them most of their lifetime to get to that point, to have the money to have a nice camper and take longer vacations. So, when we think we need it now, we get ourselves into debt to have all of these things, instead of working for them. I’m glad that I have since had my mind changed, and my debt payed off. I am happy now to live with less, so my kid and my marriage are not so stressed, and we can save our time and money for the things we really love and want.

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