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When the $20 Bill was a Hefty Sum…

Let’s wander back in time to the “good old days.” Sometimes, elderly people think that old money had a purchasing power that was greater than today and that is not necessarily true. One hundred years ago $20.00 was worth about $470.60 in today’s money. That’s an increase of 2253%. Fifty years ago, that same $20.00 was worth $152.25 and 25 years ago it was worth $39.38 a 96.9% increase or almost double.

Purchasing Power

Purchasing power is the amount of goods that you can buy for a given amount. For example, a new home would cost much more in 2013 than it would in 1950. As would all other goods and services. Keep in mind that if your wages stay the same but prices increase that your purchasing power decreases. There are many factors that can affect your purchasing power your wages, price of goods, availability of goods, and more.

Everyday Costs in 1941

In 1941, a loaf of bread cost 8 cents. Of course, the average minimum wage for an hour’s work was thirty cents while today the standard minimum wage is over seven dollars per hour. In 1941, the average yearly income was $1,492. Today’s average yearly income is about $43,000.

Here are some interesting examples of costs in 1941:

  • Can of soda was 5 cents
  • Frigidaire Refrigerator was $167.50
  • A postage stamp was 3 cents
  • Oldsmobile was $852.00
  • Cadillac was $4045.00

Today, that same loaf of bread is around $3, a standard refrigerator is about $800, and a stamp is 46 cents, and if you were to buy a Cadillac today, expect to spend around $34,000.

At first glance, it may seem that $20 is worth more back in “the good old days,” but in reality, unless there is a large disparity between the wages earned and the value of goods and services, the difference is not dramatic. Of course, if the income remained low and the cost of goods and services skyrocketed than we really would be ready to go back to “the good old days.”

You can find even more information by visiting a currency dealer that handles old money and they can also share with you how some old paper money values can be worth more today.