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A Look Back At What Things Used to Cost

A Look Back At What Things Used to Cost

What did things cost over the decades, compared to today?

Car: $500
House: $3,500
Milk: $.32
Bread: $.06
Gas: $.12

Car: $750
House: $4,000
Milk: $.23
Bread: $.09
Gas: $.10

Car: $3,500
House: $20,000
Milk: $.49
Bread: $.22
Gas: $.30

Car: $12,000
House: $100,000
Milk: $2.30
Bread: $.61
Gas: $1.12

Car: $35,285*
House: $222,800 (median price, according to Zillow)
Milk: $3.50
Bread: $2.50
Gas: $2.90

*2018 data according to Kelly Blue Book/PRN Newswire.

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  • BB says:

    Without relative income this information is not comprehensible.

  • AK says:

    How much did batteries cost in 1800s

  • Mikki says:

    Prices for housing and vehicles are simply outrageous in my opinion.

    In Des Moines IA, a full size Chevy pickup truck, fully loaded, runs close to $70k, yet a manufactured home on a large city lot in a small rural southern Iowa town can be bought for $50k

    It ‘used’ to be that I could buy 10 full bags of groceries for $25-30 and yet this week for $75 I only got 3 full bags, a gallon of milk and a 24 pack of bottled water. Granted, some items are nonfood, some will last longer than a few weeks, but still, the total price for food, housing and transportation is high in Iowa.

    I cannot begin to imagine what it costs to live on east or west coast or big metro areas like Chicago, Kansas City, etc.

    • Todd Christensen says:

      True. Prices go up every year (except during recessions and depressions), as do wages, though not always equally.
      It’s interesting you mentioned bottled water, which no one ever used to buy in the store. We buy bottled water too, but sometimes it seems half of our purchases are what marketers have convinced us we need but probably don’t.

  • Frank Trejo says:

    It is the Federal Reserve notes that are the cause of inflation. This is what happens when criminals in the Federal Reserve print too many notes . . . and criminals in government spend all they want while you watch the tube

  • Nancy says:

    I became a type I diabetic in 1975, a vial of insulin cost $2.35 and I made $2.50 an hour with no high school diploma. Now 42 years later a vial of insulin cost $225 and I make $22 an hour with a college degree. I guess choosing to be a teacher wasn’t a financial money maker.

    • Roy Herren says:

      “I guess choosing to be a teacher wasn’t a financial money maker”.
      Thank you for your choice to be a teacher and to provide an invaluable service to both your community and to future generations’!

  • Shareen says:

    Who could beleave paying 90% of their hard earned income in taxes is fair.? Who’s was getting that 90%? Everything on that list except bread is a luxury. So live in a tent and eat bread. Circle of life.

  • michelle says:

    Don’t forget that the tax rate for the wealthiest in our nation was 90% back in the fifties. It’s upside down, now. The wealthiest pay smaller tax rates than the average working man today…far less..not to mention all of the mega corportions not paying ANY tax (or getting REFUNDS!) due to loopholes and cuts or simply keeping their money offshore. Results? Crumbling infrastructure and services for the less fortunate demonized and cut in the name of austerity.

  • Bobbie says:

    I believe there is something good to say about every era. When you are young in life, everything is new and exciting! In poor areas, people simply had less. Less education, less medical help, less communication. The same thing is true today. In any age if one cuts out fast food, laying about, and drinking up their money, one can live a good quality of life.

  • Cher'e says:

    People earned less back then. But if people would stop purchasing some of these things the market would lower the prices. The more we spend the more it will cost us to live. Live off the land as much as possible and it could save a lot of money. Plant fruit trees, start a garden, shop at local community market to support our local-fresh farmers instead of these companies that have preservatives and artificial flavors,and the list can go on, carpool, buswhat etc. But I will end my comment with a healthy tip. Eat healthy & smaller portions . Rent a home, never buy because they are temporary anyway. Trust me you will notice the changes & lose weight.

  • Carrie says:

    What was the minimum wage during those years though? That’s where it gets interesting!

  • jayne engel says:

    The biggest difference is our mind set. back in 1975 -1979 my husband made 100-125 week. three kids to feed.everything seemed simpler because mothers weren’t in competition on who had the most we used our talents pooled our knowledge. now a days we are devided over income levels and who has money worked for or not?

  • Just Me says:

    Please add the number of hours for a working man to purchase these items.

  • Cindy says:

    Take a real hard look at all the increases. When people started to treat houses as part of their “investment portfolio”, that is when the scales tipped. A house should be a “home”, and cherished by the entire family.

  • Sherry Wayman says:

    I think a lot of people today don’t realize that it wasn’t always this struggle and they can’t appreciate how much things have changed. Business used to take care of their employees. All the profits didn’t go to the Ceo’s and investors. Insurance was affordable, you had retirement accounts and local colleges were free. Respect was something that was earned and given and everyone was held responsible for their actions and worked for what they got instead of everything handed to them. Neighbors helped neighbors and communities got together to help each other. They believe that a living wage is too much to ask for and that all these huge corporations are a great thing. They also think that anyone who needs a helping hand is lazy. Too bad they can’t see the forest for the trees.

  • Kelly says:

    How confusing Jim, first you complain about peoples good ole days, then admit you’re sick.


    That the longing for good ole days people is not all about tossing away medical and other accomplishments and is, instead, about kindness, respect and trust is obvious to most. Either you weren’t there or it was lost on you. How sad.

  • Frank says:

    I grow up in these days and we didn’t have aids like today… People were friendly children had respect for parents and teachers… Back in my day things were safer and people didn’t murder people like they do today… You say you are sick of hearing about life back then… Try to whistle a rap song… We even had better music… Our parents busted our butts for doing something wrong… Child protection was not need back then like it is today… The money we made back then was and still is a balance… You worked you save what you could then you enjoy life… My Dad was a railroad man who supported 5 kids and a wife and we never wanted for anything… The government cared more about us than they do today… Would I go back hell yes if I could… I made 2.50 an hour but at 16 I owned my own car had a nice 1 bedroom apt food in my frig and money to go out one… When I got married I got a raise to 3.00 dollars and hour… Between my wife and I we made 5.50 cents and hour but my wife did a great job with our money… We had a good life and still do… Plan for your future…

  • Jim says:

    I get so sick of people talking about how great it was back in the day. People died of diseases that today are easily cured or that people do not get at all thanks to vaccines. So much is better than it was back in the day. Stop liking for perfection

  • Can't do any better says:

    I wish that all of the people commenting on how great it was in the 1950’s would have raised their children (my parents generation) toonitbe such selfish and greedy capapitalistic brats. Maybe then the people of my generation could afford housing, have good health care and not be saddled with mountains of school loans. Them were some great years though right??

  • Harviele says:

    Well, I worked in the sixties and made 5 dollars a day. People now make more than 3 times that in an hour. So I wonder what the real value was in wages vs prices. Yes, things were cheaper but the actual cost compared to pay may have been higher.

  • david says:

    My parents bought a brand new house in 1953 for Eleven Thousand. Post war years . The 1950″s were the best years this country has ever seen. The draw back later on was inflation. Housing tripled back those days.A dollor was worth a dollar. However greed took over and its been a down hill slide since. The 1950″s were great years but we paid for it later.

  • Beth says:

    I would like to see a comparison on what it cost then and now to put a crop out.

  • Hayabusa says:

    Stop wage-slaving for money and buying junk you don’t need…then it looks like this:

    Trade an apple for a potato:

    1850 – 1/1
    2015 – 1/1

    Trade a shovel for a hammer:

    1850 – 1/1
    2015 – 1/1

    I’ll help you for an hour if you’ll help me for an hour:

    1850 – 1 hour
    2015 – 1 hour

  • Lori says:

    I would so love to see the salary comparisons! As well as tax comparisons.

  • Lori says:

    Assuming these prices were average. I would sooo live to see the salary comparisons!

  • History forgotton says:

    What I find interesting is the dramatic increase from 1964 to 1989. 25 years.
    In those 25 years the Adminstrations took us off the Silver standard and placed the federal reserve over the mortgage market. A dollar was much stronger on the silver standard (not as strong as it could be on gold) than it is in housing.

    But, what do I know? I am just a voting citizen.

  • Tanya says:

    compare years ago till now.. but just wait for another 30 years or 50 years
    Car: $60,000
    House: $1,000,000
    Milk: $10.00
    Bread: $7.00
    Gas: $9.00
    how do you like that !!!! what FOR to keep increase every year just leave it alone !!! not worth to keep increase every year !! it’s don’t make sense at all to me !!!

  • Steve W says:

    My first job, outside of home chores, was working for a farmer. I was paid $.50 for hoeing the weeds from a quarter mile long row of sugar beets and $.75 for a half mile long row. The weeds were 2-3 feet tall. I was given a hoe that had been cut down to 3′ long so I could use it like an ax. The farmer picked me up at 6:30 am and brought me home at 6:00 pm. I had to take my own lunch. The most I was ever able to do was ten rows a day-$5.00/day. This was in eastern Colorado in 1967. I thought I was a King for making so much money. My mom made me put all but $1.00 in a savings account each week. The dollar went toward buying a baseball mitt from the local hardware store. Hard work, but great times. To bad young kids today do not learn how to work for what they want-they just whine enough and they get it from someone- their family or the government!!!

  • Thom Pav says:

    The minimum wage in 1964 was five silver quarters. ($1.25)
    The silver/melt value of those five coins today is $19.85
    We don’t have a wage problem—we have a MONEY problem.

  • Robert Eck says:

    Years ago when the price of things was low the pay to workers was also low. Plus back in the day the people were not TAXED to death like they are now. Our great government taking money from the working class and just giving it to people that do not want to earn their own money!

  • Barbara says:

    The most important consideration is to compare the rise in prices to the rise in income. Also, remember that in many of those years families only had a single car(if any) and a single income. Nearly all meals were eaten or made at home, there was a single radio not four TVs, cable, four computers, internet, a single phone not five cell phones. People back then knew better how to live within their means.

  • Curt says:

    Yup, in 1967 fifty cents worth of gas would get me to my girlfriend’s house and back, (40 mi) round trip!

  • Earlma Vincent says:

    I remember those days well. One great one that I remember is buying cigarettes 3 packs for $1.00.

  • Fred says:

    I also remember my first job selling shoes part time after school. I was paid 50 cents an hour -minimum wage. If you made $100 per week’., you were really making the money big time.

  • Donna Statler says:

    Yes, I remember, but I also remember that I never made more than 1 dollar an hour until 1970!!!!!! And the raise only brought me to 1.10 an hour! Not interested in going back!

  • jason says:

    Nice. I wish prices were their again. Mabe people could live. Not starve.

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