9 Little Luxuries the Middle Class Won't Be Able To Afford in 5 Years

Luxuries the middle class will lose

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Luxuries the middle class will lose
Cheapism / xijian/istockphoto / Tripadvisor / Xsandra/istockphoto

Feeling the Strain

Though inflation in the U.S. has slowed from its peak of 9.1% in 2022, very few people are feeling any kind of relief on their wallets. Prices continue to rise in housing, energy, groceries, and many services, which puts an extra strain on the middle class. 

In order to pay for those necessities, things that you have treated yourself to for years may be out of reach soon. Unless something gives, these little luxuries are going to be unaffordable for the middle class in the coming years.

Manicure. Beauty and relax. Young woman getting her nails done in salon by manicure worker
Daniel Balakov/istockphoto

1. Manicures and Pedicures

It's always a treat to schedule a nail appointment, especially when they do those to-die-for foot massages. But getting a mani or pedi on the regular might be a thing of the past for the middle class if budgets tighten even more. Some nail salons are already dealing with a drop in clients due to inflation, and this non-essential service might become a once-a-year treat in the future.

Your new car key

2. New Cars

Have you seen the price of new cars lately?! The average new car price for February 2024 is over $47,000. That's actually down from the peak of almost $50,000 in 2022, but that doesn't exactly make it affordable. Couple those prices with the skyrocketing cost of insurance (inflation is to blame there, according to insurers), and used cars are going to be the only affordable autos soon enough.

Acqualina Resort & Residences

3. Annual Vacations

If you're penny pinching, vacation budgets are probably one of the first things to go. Those annual trips to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun over spring break may change to road trips, or disappear all together for the middle class in the coming years.

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People dine in the Walnut street restaurant district in downtown Philadelphia USA

4. Eating Out Every Week

Is Friday pizza night? Or do you and your partner hit up a new date night spot every week? Restaurant prices — from fancy white tablecloth steakhouses to fast food — have been climbing steadily during the pandemic due to rising food and labor costs. When everything else is rising too, eating out is going to become more of a luxury than a standard treat. 

Related: Free Burgers, Free Fries, and More Bonkers Fast-Food Deals Near You

Movie theater during the screening of an animated movie

5. Taking the Family to the Movies

Movie ticket prices have gone up a lot over the years, and we all know that popcorn, candy, and soda has always been astronomical at the concessions stand. Nowadays, if you want to treat your family to a night at the movies, you better be willing to shell out at least $15 for each ticket on a weekend night, $10 for a shareable tub of popcorn, and $6 per soda or box of candy. That's easily $100, putting it out of reach for many middle class families.

Related: How Movie Theaters Have Dramatically Changed Since You Were a Kid

Organic food signage on modern supermarket fresh produce vegetable aisle

6. Organic Foods

We all know the "More like Whole Paycheck, right?" joke, and it's no lie. Buying organic groceries for your family has always come at a premium — one investigation last year found it to be 21% more expensive than non-organic — but many families will have to sacrifice some health aspects of their groceries just to be able to afford food at all. 

Large group of people at a concert party.

7. Concert Tickets

You're probably already aware of how expensive it is to score tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. Across the board, concert ticket prices have increased 35% since 2019, and considering how high the demand is, there's probably no slowing on the horizon. Five years from now, concerts might be even more of a luxury buy than they already are.

Senior Man Relaxing on the Rocks

8. Leisure Time

Unless wages start increasing to match the inflated prices of well, everything, making ends meet on a single full time job is going to be harder than ever. Many middle class workers might need to work a second job, start some gig economy work, or get a little more creative with side hustles to make ends meet. When that happens, relaxing and self-care will be much more difficult to come by.

Woman unpacking takeaway food delivery

9. Food Delivery

We've all become a little spoiled with food delivery since the pandemic. We can have someone pick up our food from practically any restaurant and bring it to us — but it costs a whole lot. You're paying both the delivery person and the third party delivery service (like DoorDash) for the luxury of not leaving your couch. When money is tight, people are going to need to raid their pantry or hit up a drive-thru themselves.