Some everyday items were triple or quadruple the price they are now.
12 Things That Cost Less Today Than in the 1900s
The good old days may have been better, but they weren’t always cheaper. Believe it or not, many items today cost less than they did in the last century — once you adjust for inflation.
How did we do that? We used a nifty inflation calculator courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to adjust purchases ranging from big (cars) to small (eggs).
Here are 12 of the most intriguing…
1909: The Ford Model T touring car had a sticker price of $850.00, or $23,552 today.
Today: A 2018 Ford Focus is only $17,950. But the price discrepancy isn’t the most interesting part.
The yearly income in 1909 was around $500.00, so $850.00 was probably more than the Average Joe could afford. Today’s average income is $61,372, according to Census. So, a Ford Focus is well within reach for most people.
Are you shopping around for a new car this year? Check out why 2018 Is a Bad Year to Finance a New Car.
1915: A gallon of gas in New York City would've cost you 21 cents at your local “filling station” — $5.14 a gallon now.
Today: You’ll only pay about $3.00 a gallon in NYC.
Many of us aren’t old enough to remember paying 21 cents a gallon for gas, but it wasn’t as sweet as you may think. That’s over $2.00 more for a gallon today after you adjust for inflation.
3. A woman’s outfit
1910: A woman’s outfit, including a corset, dress, shoes, and stockings, sold for $24.75, or $656.54 today.
Today: An outfit at Macy’s, including a bra, dress, shoes, and socks, costs about $175.00.
A full outfit would’ve cost a woman a lot of money in 1910 — especially with an average yearly income of $574.00.
4. Phone calls
1927: A 10-minute long-distance call was $2.05. That’s $29.54 now.
Today: AT&T has long-distance plans for just 7 cents a minute on a landline.
Imagine having to work 14 hours to afford a phone call to a loved one across the country. That’s what the average worker earning 68 cents an hour had to do in 1927.
1920: The Maybelline “Eyelash Beautifier” sold for 75 cents, or $9.79 today.
Today: Maybelline’s most expensive “Total Temptation Mascara” costs $9.49 at Ulta Beauty. The prices for other mascaras by Maybelline average around $7.00.
The mascara of the 1920s consisted of a dark colored cake and a separate brush, which looked like a toothbrush to coat the lashes.
1950s: Eggs were 79 cents for a dozen — $8.47 in current dollars.
Today: Eggs normally go for around $2.50 a dozen at Walmart.
For $8.00, you can buy organic pasture raised eggs, “made with fresh air and sunshine,” (no joke, that’s how they’re advertised) from Whole Foods.
If you spend too much on your food budget, check out 6 Tips to Reduce Food Waste and Cut Your Grocery Bill.
1954: The 54” Columbia Electronic Color Console Model would set you back $1,000. Today, that’s $9,367.62.
Today: An LG 55” 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV costs $547.00 on Amazon as of publication time.
The price of a color console television was over 30 percent of the average yearly income at the time. A comparable TV today wouldn’t even be 0.01 percent of the average income.
8. Airline tickets
1955: A trip from Boston to Los Angeles ran the average traveler $106.00 for a one-way flight on Trans World Airlines. That's a little over $1,000 today.
Today: That ticket on Delta costs $121.00.
In the Golden Age of flying, air travel was a luxury: reclining seats, ridiculous amounts of leg room, free alcohol. But you were paying a small fortune for a ticket.
9. Fast food
1960: A cheeseburger at McDonald’s used to cost 19 cents. In today’s dollars, that’s $1.63.
Today: You can buy a cheeseburger off the $1.00 Menu.
1960: A family trip to KFC would cost about $5.29 for a 15-piece chicken box with six rolls and a pint of chicken gravy. That’s $45.50 today.
Today: The 12-piece chicken meal, including three large sides and six biscuits, costs $32.09. Sure, it’s three pieces less, but you get three large sides instead of a pint of gravy.
10. Movie tickets
1977: Movie tickets reached $2.23
Today: The average movie ticket costs about $9.00
Believe it or not, the 1977 cost would be $9.40 in 2017 dollars, the year movie tickets hit an all-time record high of $8.97, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.
11. Cell phones
1983: The world’s first commercial cell phone (called the Motorola DynaTac 8000X) sold for $3,995.
Today: An iPhone X (256 GB) costs $1,149.
This item is cheaper today even without inflation. Of course, an egg is an egg. But an iPhone X charges 10 times faster and weighs five times less than the nearly three-pound Motorola “brick.”
1989: The Macintosh Portable M5120 cost a whopping $7,300. That’s about $15,000 today.
Today: The Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar costs $1,589 on Amazon as of publication time.
Laptops were once a faraway thought for average wage earners, but they finally became a household item in the late 1980s. Now, they’re one of the most common possessions someone can own, second to maybe a cellphone.
This article by Cameren Boatner was originally published on Debt.com. Artwork by Ivan Benavides.
Published by Debt.com, LLC