It’s no secret that things like economic inflation and the hefty rise in retail prices have made stretching out a dollar more difficult over the years. My mom used to tell us about how upset her dad got when gas prices went above 25 cents a gallon in our area — while we were paying about $3 for a gallon, and watching that number get higher each day. Of course, the average household income has also grown to match those rising numbers throughout history, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to suddenly step back in time with whatever you have in your bank account and see how far it could last you?
We used the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Inflation Calculator to find out the buying power of $100 starting all the way back in 1919 and up to 2009. Just imagine if you were able to walk through some sort of magical door that dropped you back into one of those decades, and you just happened to have a crisp $100 bill in your pocket.
The more recent years might not seem like much of an extra stretch, but wait until you see how much richer you’d feel with that much money to your name 100 years ago.
Take a look to see just how much $100 has been worth over the last century!
According to AOL, a gallon of milk in 2009 cost about $3.05. A trip to your local grocery store today will probably prove that price hasn't gone up too much over the past decade, usually just about 50 cents more expensive.
What $100 Was Worth in 2009: $119.04
Seeing a blockbuster like The Matrix or Fight Club in 1999 would only cost about $5, according to the same AOL list. That's roughly half as much as the current average movie ticket price across the US. You could also spend a day at Disneyland for just $41 versus the $100-$150 price range today.
What $100 Was Worth in 1999: $153
The Farmer's Almanac lists the price for a gallon of milk in 1989 at $2.30 and gas started peaking over a dollar at $1.12 per gallon. Still, your $100 would stretch about twice as far as it does today.
What $100 Was Worth in 1989: $204.89
No need for the Dollar Menu at McDonalds back in 1979. According to CBS News, you could afford 100 Happy Meals at just a buck a piece with a $100 bill. That's a lot of chicken nuggets!
What $100 Was Worth in 1979: $342.22
Even if you were heading to Woodstock Festival in 1969 from across the country, a $100 bill would help keep your car gassed up at just 34 cents per gallon, according to the US Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Plus, you'd still have plenty of change leftover for snacks and maybe even a new pair of bell bottoms!
What $100 Was Worth in 1969: $689.94
According to the People History, you'd be able to see 100 movies or buy 100 pairs of stockings at just a buck a piece with $100 in your wallet back in 1959.
What $100 Was Worth in 1959: $875.33
Records from the US Department of Labor lists the average 1949 price of bread as just 14 cents. Imagine all of the other sandwich fillings you'd be able to get with the rest of your $100 bill!
What $100 Was Worth in 1949: $1,085.85
You'd get a lot of change back using a $100 bill to pay for a loaf of bread in 1939, which Reference.com says only cost 8 cents back then. That's almost half as much as it cost in the 1940s, but rations during World War II likely played a hand in that bump between decades.
What $100 Was Worth in 1939: $1,838.19
The advertising for this 1939 candy display might not be approved by dentists today ("Candy is food." "Every day is candy day."), but you'd be able to buy plenty of 3 for 10 cents it with $100 in your pocket.
What $100 Was Worth in 1929: $1,487.55
According to the Foundation for Economic Education, ordinary grocery items like a quart of milk was only 15 cents and a pound of potatoes only cost just four pennies in 1919. Obviously, you'd be able to make a $100 bill stretch you pretty far back then!
What $100 Was Worth in 1919: $1,421.80