What $1 Could Buy the Year You Were Born

·4 min read
South_agency / iStock.com
South_agency / iStock.com

In 2022, $1 can't buy that much in terms of goods and services. However, you might be surprised at how much $1 could buy in the past. Remember when $1 could buy six Hershey's chocolate bars? If you were alive in 1973, you might. What's the cost of 3 gallons of gas today in your neighborhood? Ten dollars? More? In 1966, those 3 gallons were less than $1.

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While these examples are fun to look at, they're also an important representation of the devastating power of inflation. Over time, inflation reduces the purchasing power of a dollar, as exemplified by these various items. Ten or 20 years from now, you may look back yet again and be amazed at how "cheap" things were in 2022, as inflation will no doubt have driven prices higher still in the future.

To see how much $1 could have purchased in the year you were born, GOBankingRates took a sample of prices from 1940 to 2021. For each year, you'll see an example of a common good or service that cost about $1. The list is not only interesting but also educational, as it points out in black and white how the purchasing power of $1 declines over time. Check out your birth year and you may get a chuckle out of what $1 could buy in that year.

Maryviolet / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Maryviolet / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1940-1944

  • 1940: School bag, $0.98

  • 1941: 2-gallon aquarium, $0.98

  • 1942: Women's dress, $1.00

  • 1943: Handbag, $1.00

  • 1944: 3-piece toy set (doll, Klik-Klak and teether), $1.05

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ScottMThompson / Getty Images/iStockphoto
ScottMThompson / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1945-1949

  • 1945: B-29 Boeing Super Fortress Bomber model kit, $0.95

  • 1946: 2 RCA Victor records, $0.89

  • 1947: Apple tree, $0.98

  • 1948: Men's belt, $0.94

  • 1949: Boy's cotton shirt, $0.97

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

1950-1954

  • 1950: Throw pillow, $0.80

  • 1951: Baseball cap, $0.95

  • 1952: 1 cake pan & 6 custard cups, $1.05

  • 1953: 1 quart of paint, $0.98

  • 1954: 4-piece screwdriver set, $0.98

Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com
Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock.com

1955-1959

  • 1955: 2 McDonald's meals (1 burger, fries and soda), $0.70

  • 1956: Hair spray, $1.05

  • 1957: Baby gown, $0.87

  • 1958: Bath towel, $0.91

  • 1959: Pitcher, $0.91

Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com
Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com

1960-1964

  • 1960: Tights/nylons, $0.94

  • 1961: 2 Sunday New York Times, $1.00

  • 1962: 1 yard of fabric, $0.94

  • 1963: Movie ticket, $0.86

  • 1964: 2,000 cigarette papers, $0.97

CasarsaGuru / Getty Images
CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

1965-1969

  • 1965: Rifle carrying case, $0.88

  • 1966: 3 gallons of gas, $0.96

  • 1967: 2 Big Macs, $0.90

  • 1968: Baby blanket, $1.00

  • 1969: Set of greeting cards, $0.99

dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com
dean bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com

1970-1974

  • 1970: 2 pillowcases, $0.88

  • 1971: Rake, $1.09

  • 1972: Wrench, $0.98

  • 1973: 6 Hershey's bars, $0.90

  • 1974: Barbie outfit, $0.77

Creativeye99 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Creativeye99 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1975-1979

  • 1975: 50 vitamins, $1.00

  • 1976: Knee socks, $0.99

  • 1977: Skein of yarn, $0.97

  • 1978: 6 first-class postage stamps, $0.90

  • 1979: 8 guitar picks, $0.98

dusanpetkovic / Getty Images/iStockphoto
dusanpetkovic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1980-1984

  • 1980: 1/2 gallon milk, $1.02

  • 1981: 1 dozen eggs, $0.97

  • 1982: Pack of cigarettes, $0.82

  • 1983: 2 D batteries, $0.99

  • 1984: 1 pound of grapes, $0.99

Natnan Srisuwan / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Natnan Srisuwan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1985-1989

  • 1985: California Lottery ticket, $1

  • 1986: 3 shots of bourbon, $0.97

  • 1987: 2 bags of gift wrapping bows, $1

  • 1988: 4 packs of gum, $1

  • 1989: 1 gallon of gas, $1

chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com
chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com

1990-1994

  • 1990: 1 share of Microsoft, $0.94

  • 1991: 1 share of Disney, $1

  • 1992: 1/2 pound bacon, $0.93

  • 1993: 4 vending machine toys/gumballs, $1

  • 1994: 1/2 bag of potato chips, $1

Faiz Zaki / Shutterstock.com
Faiz Zaki / Shutterstock.com

1995-1999

  • 1995: Ballpoint pen ink refill, $1

  • 1996: 1/2 pound chicken breast, $0.96

  • 1997: Die-cast Nascar model, $1.33

  • 1998: 2 liters cola, $0.98

  • 1999: 11 green Lego bricks, $0.98

plavevski / Shutterstock.com
plavevski / Shutterstock.com

2000-2004

  • 2000: Loaf of bread, $0.99

  • 2001: Postage for three letters, $1.02

  • 2002: Taco Bell bean burrito, $0.69

  • 2003: Ticket to Blink-182's DollaBill Tour, $1

  • 2004: 1 share of Apple, $0.94

serdjophoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto
serdjophoto / Getty Images/iStockphoto

2005-2009

  • 2005: 10 KWHs electricity, $1

  • 2006: 2 pounds bananas, $0.96

  • 2007: iTunes track, $0.99

  • 2008: Slice of New York pizza, $1

  • 2009: 1/2 a weekday New York Times, $1

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

2010-2014

  • 2010: 1/3 gallon of gas, $0.93

  • 2011: 1/3 pound ground beef, $1

  • 2012: Fitness app, $0.99

  • 2013: 1 pound of navel oranges, $1

  • 2014: 1 car air freshener, $1

TARA CHAIYATHO / Shutterstock.com
TARA CHAIYATHO / Shutterstock.com

2015-2019

  • 2015: 50GB of storage (iCloud), $0.99

  • 2016: Shot of whiskey, $0.99

  • 2017: Makeup brush set, $0.89

  • 2018: A dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, $1

  • 2019: 4 dry erase markers, $1

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

2020-2021

  • 2020: Wendy's Frosty (small), $0.99

  • 2021: Amazon Kindle eBook, $.099

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What $1 Could Buy the Year You Were Born

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