As a kid, I always wanted to have the best art supplies. Both my brother and I liked to draw, sketch, and paint. We would fight during the summer over school supplies because we always wanted to get the best colored pencils, the largest box of crayons, and the most expensive art stock. It was comical, really. While now I care about and follow several different brand names, the only company I cared about back then was Crayola and whether or not they'd put the new crayon sharpener on the smaller crayon boxes.
One year, my parents bought my younger brother a $5 set of colored pencils. Five dollars! I was beyond impressed, and incredibly jealous. It wasn't a fancy set or anything, but the high price tag made us think it was a more elegant collection of tools than the $2 set I had stowed away in my desk at school.
On Saturday I wandered into the school supply section of a store and was flabbergasted by the prices. A package of 5 spiral-bound notebooks was fifty cents, a box of Crayola colored pencils was a dollar, and a large box of crayons that any six year old in my day would be proud to use was only twenty-two cents!
What happened? I'll admit that it's been a while since I was in the first grade, arguing with my parents over the high price tags on these items, so where's the inflationary impact on my childhood accessories? Shouldn't we be struggling over $10 crayons, $5 each notebooks, and loan-worthy colored pencils by now? Where'd the inflation I know and hate disappear to?
It disappeared to adult products. Think back to when you were a child and life was so much simpler. You'd walk or ride your bike almost everywhere (no gasoline). Saturday morning cartoons were the highlight of your weekly entertainment (no comedy shows or over-priced Hollywood movies). You'd get yelled at when your homework went unfinished in favor of Picasso-esque cartoons in some notebook on the table (no Facebook, YouTube, or blogosphere). Finally, you'd knock on your friend's door and ask if he or she could come out and play (no Blackberries, email, or meeting requests).
It's not really that our prices are increasing that much, just our tastes and "needs" as we, and the world, grow older. I used to ride my bike to our school rival's football fields ... now I almost always drive to the bank (half the distance) and wonder where my money goes. I used to bottle tap water and make shaved ice for dessert ... now there are two gallons of fancy Dreyer's ice cream in the outside freezer. I'm definitely spending more money than I did as a child, but is this because of price inflation, or taste inflation?
How about in your life? Which realm has changed and grown the most?