The way things were and the way they
are always fascinate me. For example, the way learning to drive and
getting a car used to be the only thing you cared about from the age
of 14 on. Now, there are a staggering number of young people who
don't care the first thing about driving.
But most back then and now comparisons
involve money and the cost of living website recently put up numbers
comparing things from 1913 to 2013, showing how some things have
changed in the past 100 years.
For example, in 1913 a dollar would get
you stuff that would cost you $22.10 now. Sure, you say, a dollar
went a lot farther then. But think about that for a moment. What will $22.10 really get you?
It'd get you about six gallons of
gas. It would feed two at a sit down restaurant if you ordered the
two for $20 deal and drank water. It would buy about two days worth
of groceries. Two or three movie tickets depending on whether or not
you caught a matinee.
In other words, not much. So, I can't
imagine people were any more excited over a dollar then than they are
Also in 1913, the average house cost $5,935. Today, a house averages $131,171. Now, the website doesn't
say what an "average" house is, but around here, anyway, you can
get a lot of house for $131,171, so I assume just under $6,000 bought
a lot of house in 1913.
A car, in 1913, cost $600. Today, $13,261. I guess cars weren't that prevalent in 1913, so $600
probably made them a luxury item. As for today, if you can find a car
for $13,261 that isn't a rolling death trap, please point me in the
What did the average person make in
1913. That would be $585. Per year. The 2013 equivalent is $12,929.
Let's look at those numbers. If you
make $585 a year, that translates to $11.25 a week, or 28 cents an
hour. A car cost more than a year's salary and a house would have
taken just as long to pay off as it does today.
And at 28 cents an hour, they probably
were impressed by a dollar.
Today, $12,929 comes out to just under $249 a week, or $6.22 a week, which isn't even minimum wage. That's
probably for the best as unless all you really want to do is go to
work, then come home and repeat every day, you need at least a little
Since the average wage from 1913
converted to today's dollars basically means you would be living in
poverty at that rate, was everybody in 1913 poor? The average wage in
America today, if I remember right, is about double that $12,929
figure, so for the average wages to match, people would have needed
to make around $1,100 per year in 1913.
Things were different then (said the
master of the obvious). They didn’t have all those "extra" costs we take for granted. They didn't have cable TV bills (didn't
have TV at all), no overpriced Internet connection, weren't
spending $100 a week on gas, grew most of their own food, healthcare
was paid for with chickens and pigs. Shoot, most of them didn't
even have electricity, so there was a lot money not spent right
If your weekly bills totaled $3 and you
were bringing home a cool $11, you had no worries what so ever. A
night on the town was not out of question.
Which makes me wonder what people in
2113 will think of us way back here in 2013. Will they look at our
prices and say, "Wow, a car didn't always cost $400,000? And a
house wouldn't set you back a cool $2 million? And they only
averaged $25,000 a year? We can barely get by on $300,000 a year and
we're considered poor!"
I'm sure by then the rich people will
count their fortunes in the trillions and the people at my level will
struggle to get by and never have the first clue what retirement is.
Some things will never change.
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