Bob Dylan got it right when he sang, “Times, they are a-changing.” It’s easy to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” the older we get. One of the many things that has changed since our childhood has been the cost of living.
At Modern Senior Magazine, we love nostalgia. We also love comparisons. That’s why we jumped at the chance to write about both. Thanks to inflation, and the overall rise in the cost of living, prices of things then versus now look quite different. Let’s examine the difference in prices for some of our favorite things since we were young in the 1960s.
Then Versus Now
The ‘60s were a hip and happening time here in the USA. Beatlemania, Mod fashion, a man walking on the moon—a lot happened. For us boomers here at MSM, the ‘60s were the days of our childhood. Here are some of the fun things we looked at to compare the ‘60s to today, with the difference in price calculated already so you don’t have to do the math!
Food and Beverages
- Coca Cola. From popping the lid on glass bottles to cracking open a can, sharing a Coke was our favorite thing to do on a hot summer day. When we were kids, we’d pick up a bottle from the grocery for only 25 cents. Buying a bottle today averages a dollar or more. Given it’s still a favorite summer treat, Coca Cola has only risen by 300%.
- Hershey’s Chocolate. Who doesn’t love sweet treats? We sure do! Hershey’s bars are usually stashed in someone’s desk here at MSM. While most Hershey’s bars cost at least a dollar today, in the ‘60s you could get one of these sweet treats for only 5 cents! That’s 1900% less than the cost now.
- Wrigley’s Bubblegum. In 1962, you could pick up Wrigley’s at the corner store for a nickel. Nowadays you’ll find Wrigley’s at grocery stores and airports for at least a dollar a pack. That’s an increase of 1900%. Wow!
- Bring new meaning to the song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” when you think about how a six-pack of beer cost only 99 cents in the 1960s! While we were too young to drink then, we enjoy a pint every now and then today. Except we’re shelling out at least $5 for a six-pack today thanks to the increase of 124%.
Entertainment for Hours
- Barbie Dolls. Did you play with Barbie dolls as a child? You weren’t alone—Barbie dolls are one of the most popular toys ever. Buying a Barbie in the ‘60s would have set you back an average of $5. Today, parents are spending at least $10 for a Barbie, spiking the prices for the famous doll by 500%.
- Movie Tickets. In the ‘60s, going to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s or The Sound of Music would set you back anywhere from 75 cents to a dollar. Today, going to the movies means you’ll be spending at least $12 a ticket. Seeing the latest movie with the grandkids today means you will be spending 1500% more per movie ticket than you did on your first date!
- Taking Road Trips. Did your family ever decide it was time to take a trip on Route 66? In the ‘60s, you didn’t need as much room in your budget for gas the way you do now. On 1960s’ national average, gas cost 25 cents a gallon compared to the national average of $2.38 today. You’re paying 111% more today.
- Haircuts. When you wanted to get a haircut and style from the beauty salon, it would only set you back $3. Sadly, those days are far behind us. Expect to pay closer to $43 for a haircut now. Unless you decided to visit a discount haircut salon, be ready to pay that 1333% increase.
- Levi’s Jeans. An American staple, Levi’s first appeared in 1873. Though we don’t know how much they sold for then, we do know that our moms used to get them for us from the department store for about five dollars a pair. Today, Levi’s average $60 at your local Macys. That’s an 1100% increase rate on a piece of clothing that almost every American owns.
- Milk Gallons. How many times did you hear the words, ‘drink your milk so you can grow big and strong’? It used to be a lot cheaper to grow strong bones then—milk only cost 50 cents a gallon. Now you’ll need $2 to pick up a jug on your way home from work. That spiked by 133%.
- Before the times of email and instant messaging, letter writing was a far more common method of communicating. Stamps were commonplace, and affordable. Mailing a letter during the ‘60s would only cost you 4 cents per stamp. Now, mailing any sort of card sets you back 49 cents. Stamps prices have soared by 1125% percent.
Back to the Future?
While the increase in prices may seem dramatic, the prices have been increasing as the standard of living has gone up. In the 1960s, the average household income was roughly $5,600. Today, it’s estimated between $48,000-$54,000. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how everyday prices would increase along with this.
It’s fun to look back and see how things have changed since we were young. Now we’ve got to go—we’re running over to the mall to by the newest Barbie doll for our grandkids.