How Much $1 Could Buy During The Year You Were Born Shows The Power Of Inflation

Advertiser Disclosure

Advertiser Disclosure

The Wealth Gang team writes about financial information, passive income ideas, apps, programs, cash management tools and other wealth gadgets that we think you might want to use or learn more about. Sometimes, we write about products, services or items that might be associated with affiliate partnerships. In these instances, we will earn a small percentage of the revenue from sales. There is, of course, no cost to you.

Thank you for all your support! Without you, we could not keep this site running. Gang Gang!

what one dollar can buy

Taking trips down memory lane can be fun, but this one, where we look at what $1 could buy you in the year you were born, will bum you out about the sad power of inflation.

The team at GoBankingRates recently cobbled together this list of what things cost in a given year. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer or your a student debt-saddled Millennial, you’ll want to take a look — albeit a depressing one — back at all the stuff money used to buy for $1.

As you’ll see, it is kind of a shock to the system just how much the purchasing power of a $1 has changed over the last 70 years.

How Much $1 Could Buy You In the Year You Were Born

1940-1944

  • 1940: School bag, $0.98
  • 1941: 2-gallon aquarium, $0.98
  • 1942: Women’s dress, $1.00
  • 1943: Handbag, $1.00
  • 1944: 3-piece toy set (doll, Klik-Klak and teether), $1.05

1945-1954

  • 1945: B-29 Boeing Super Fortress Bomber model kit, $0.95
  • 1946: 2 RCA Victor records, $0.89
  • 1947: Apple tree, $0.98
  • 1948: Men’s belt, $0.94
  • 1949: Boy’s cotton shirt, $0.97
  • 1950: Throw pillow, $0.80
  • 1951: Baseball cap, $0.95
  • 1952: 1 cake pan & 6 custard cups, $1.05
  • 1953: 1 quart of paint, $0.98
  • 1954: 4-piece screwdriver set, $0.98

1955-1964

  • 1955: 2 McDonald’s meals (1 burger, fries and soda), $0.70
  • 1956: Hair spray, $1.05
  • 1957: Baby gown, $0.87
  • 1958: Bath towel, $0.91
  • 1959: Pitcher, $0.91
  • 1960: Tights/nylons, $0.94
  • 1961: 2 Sunday New York Times, $1.00
  • 1962: 1 yard of fabric, $0.94
  • 1963: Movie ticket, $0.86
  • 1964: 2,000 cigarette papers, $0.97

1965-1974

  • 1965: Rifle carrying case, $0.88
  • 1966: 3 gallons of gas, $0.96
  • 1967: 2 Big Macs, $0.90
  • 1968: Baby blanket, $1.00
  • 1969: Set of greeting cards, $0.99
  • 1970: 2 pillowcases, $0.88
  • 1971: Rake, $1.09
  • 1972: Wrench, $0.98
  • 1973: 6 Hershey’s bars, $0.90
  • 1974: Barbie outfit, $0.77

So many thoughts in this grouping. A rake for $1.09. A RAKE! Three full gallons of gas for what you can buy a third of a gallon of gas for in 2021.

1975-1984

  • 1975: 50 vitamins, $1.00
  • 1976: Knee socks, $0.99
  • 1977: Skein of yarn, $0.97
  • 1978: 6 first-class postage stamps, $0.90
  • 1979: 8 guitar picks, $0.98
  • 1980: 1/2 gallon milk, $1.02
  • 1981: 1 dozen eggs, $0.97
  • 1982: Pack of cigarettes, $0.82
  • 1983: 2 D batteries, $0.99
  • 1984: 1 pound of grapes, $0.99

While we’re between the 70s and 80s, do want to feel even worse? Sure you do. So take a look at the average price of Nike shoes over time.

nike-shoes-cost

1985-1994

  • 1985: California Lottery ticket, $1
  • 1986: 3 shots of bourbon, $0.97
  • 1987: 2 bags of gift wrapping bows, $1
  • 1988: 4 packs of gum, $1
  • 1989: 1 gallon of gas, $1
  • 1990: 1 share of Microsoft, $0.94
  • 1991: 1 share of Disney, $1
  • 1992: 1/2 pound bacon, $0.93
  • 1993: 4 vending machine toys/gumballs, $1
  • 1994: 1/2 bag of potato chips, $1

1995-2004

  • 1995: Ballpoint pen ink refill, $1
  • 1996: 1/2 pound chicken breast, $0.96
  • 1997: Die-cast Nascar model, $1.33
  • 1998: 2 liters cola, $0.98
  • 1999: 11 green Lego bricks, $0.98
  • 2000: Loaf of bread, $0.99
  • 2001: Postage for three letters, $1.02
  • 2002: Taco Bell bean burrito, $0.69
  • 2003: Ticket to Blink-182’s DollaBill Tour, $1
  • 2004: 1 share of Apple, $0.94
One share of Apple was…(holds back tears)…$.94 in 2004. If that doesn’t fill you with regret, nothing will. But, the good news is: the next Apple is out there, waiting for us to buy it. And that, friends, is what keeps us going.

Author
C. James

C. James is the managing editor at Wealth Gang. He has a degree in finance and a passion for creating passive income streams and wealth management.

Current Top Offers

fundrise logo

Invest in Commercial Real Estate With As Little As $10

m1 finance logo

Get a $50 bonus for creating and funding a new account

Invest spare change easily. Get $5 when you sign up for Acorns.