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Old 11-10-2015, 06:26 PM   #41
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Recently family went out for burgers and fries total cost $50. I need to either get a handle on inflation or stay at home for the rest of my life.
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:37 PM   #42
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If, like most people on this site, you worked in a cushy office job for most of your career, I think you would very much dislike working in a fast food restaurant. Working in fast food would require you to do actual work. You would be tired and sore all the time, not to mention you would smell(sweat and grease). My body hurts just watching the 20 year olds running around in back. I couldn't imagine a retiree trying to do that job.
We have quite a few fast food workers in the hi COL area where I live that are 55 and up. I've noticed them more and more as I approached ER (hoping that would not be my fate). You can easily tell the ones that do it for extra money from the ones that do it out of necessity.



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Old 11-10-2015, 06:40 PM   #43
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Recently family went out for burgers and fries total cost $50. I need to either get a handle on inflation or stay at home for the rest of my life.

....or get some of those coupons. We get them in the mail a lot. I am trying to eat healthier now that I have more time to shop and cook.


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Old 11-10-2015, 06:42 PM   #44
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Very interesting discussion. I have an additional perception problem in that I have been out of the U.S. for a while. Even though I frequently return, prices (in my head) are frozen in time based on when I departed in the mid-90's. Coke out of a machine is still 50 cents right?

Clearly the purchasing power of the dollar has declined over time. A good chart is here. It basically says that a dollar in 1913 was worth a nickel in 2013.

But does that really matter? Isn't it really purchasing power - or real wage - that we care about? If you were making $2 minimum wage in the mid 70s and could buy 5 loaves of bread with it, how many loaves can you buy with the $15 today? This is a great interactive graph of the real minimum wage. It largely says that even though the minimum wage went from $.25 in 1938 to $7.25 in 2015, purchase power has actually nearly doubled (roughly $4 to $8ish).

However, if you compare the 1950s to 1980s vs today, the purchasing power has declined. Most people in this forum are looking at that period. Your mid 20th century dollars bought you more back then.
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:59 PM   #45
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I believe the official CPI inflation might be 320%, but I believe actual inflation to be much much higher. In 1973 I had a job mopping floors at the then minimum wage of $1.65/hr. Our home was valued at about $35K. Today, that same home is $900k. The State Univ fees were about $150/yr. Today they are around $6k to $7K/yr. Twilight green fees at the local golf course were $1. Today they are $25. And I'm sure medical costs have soared too.

I checked your bio Jkern and I was correct. I was thinking "he doesnt live in flyover country" and was proved correct. I bet inflation in some things has been worse in California than MO. My dad built a new house in 1973 for $16,000. I would guess it to be worth at tops $175,000 today. And golf I remember playing 18 holes in late 1970s for $6 for 18 holes with a pull cart. Today I can get a cart and play 18 twilight rates for $18-$20.
CNBC was listing the most expensive real estate places today, and California dominated the list. My jaw just drops at the "average home" costs.


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Old 11-10-2015, 09:16 PM   #46
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My wife and I spend less than $60,000 a year. So for us, you are a big spender But $50K income is not big these days - more like $120K - $150K is middle class income, or what use to be equivalent to $50K 25 years ago. Well, you can still buy $1 MacDonalds burger right?

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So am I a relic about money, when I ran my numbers I factored in 60,000 after tax a year, thinking I'm a big spender but 60,000 is chump change it seems.


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Old 11-10-2015, 10:37 PM   #47
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If, like most people on this site, you worked in a cushy office job for most of your career, I think you would very much dislike working in a fast food restaurant. Working in fast food would require you to do actual work. You would be tired and sore all the time, not to mention you would smell(sweat and grease). My body hurts just watching the 20 year olds running around in back. I couldn't imagine a retiree trying to do that job.
Like many people, I worked in fast food for awhile. For the most part it is tiring, repetitive, dirty, hot, and not much fun at all even at age 18, much less 50+.
I'm always surprised when middle-age folks comment that they might just jump out of a job they dislike and take a job flipping burgers. I think they should work the grill during a typical lunch rush or spend 10 minutes cleaning out a greasy, maggot-infested floordrain in the kitchen of a burger joint before making any permanent changes. Low pay is not the same as stress-free or easy. The folks working in those jobs, and doing them well, have my respect.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:07 AM   #48
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I'm so old I can't recall what my first jobs paid me but I also did a lot of babysitting as a teenager and saved up enough money to buy a Gibson steel string guitar in 1966 for about $80. Years later, living in my $165 a month apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the guitar was stolen.

I decided for my 55th birthday to buy the same guitar. I went on eBay and bought it for $500.

That apartment - a studio - now rents for around $2000 a month.


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Old 11-11-2015, 06:28 AM   #49
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My wife and I spend less than $60,000 a year. So for us, you are a big spender But $50K income is not big these days - more like $120K - $150K is middle class income, or what use to be equivalent to $50K 25 years ago. Well, you can still buy $1 MacDonalds burger right?






If it takes $150K to be middle income I might as well start laying in the supplies of cat food right now....
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Old 11-11-2015, 06:47 AM   #50
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I worked my way through college ('68-'72) doing grocery store inventories on weekends and as a lifeguard at the university athletic facilities. My parents assisted with $150 a month spending money.

Tuition started at $117.50 and went up to $192.50 my last semester. We'd buy Sterling Big Mouth bottles of beer at Walgreens for $.99 per six pack. 2 pieces of fried chicken, fries and ice tea for $1.00. Plate lunches were $1.35-$1.50. A really nice apartment was $135.

And we could actually get our degree without student loans.

My wife and I continue to live a very frugal life--eating out only 1x per week. Living conservatively allows us to be perpetual world travelers in our retirement.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:01 AM   #51
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My wife and I continue to live a very frugal life--eating out only 1x per week. Living conservatively allows us to be perpetual world travelers in our retirement.
You are eating "out" once per week? We eat once per week, at home, so that we can have money to travel.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:01 AM   #52
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The official cumulative inflation from 1976 till now, a period of 39 years, is 320%. This means $1 back then is worth $4.2 now. So, the $15/hr job now is equivalent to $3.57/hr back then.

Does that seem about right? I cannot remember what minimum wage was back then, but it must be lower than $3.57.

PS. I do remember an engineering graduate making $17-19K for the first job out of school. That is equivalent to $71-80K now. That seems roughly right.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a wage inflation calculator that says wages are up over 400% since 1976, 613% since my date of 1970. Minimum wage was $1.60 in 1970 so $9.80. Against that yard stick we are still pretty far behind. In 1970, $10K was a good starting wage (equivalent to ~$60K today).

As a sub teacher in Chicago in 1973 (536%) I made $40/day which would be $10K ($53K today) on a full time, full year basis. About $8K based on a teacher's schedule or $42.4K today.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:40 AM   #53
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If it takes $150K to be middle income I might as well start laying in the supplies of cat food right now....
It's all relative. High income people in HCOL areas may think $150K is middle income. I'm low income in LCOL area so I think middle income is $25-75K/yr. I've never even earned $50K in a year and I never will so $150K is completely out there to me.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:46 AM   #54
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Where I am, a salary of $150K is quite good, certainly not middle. However, that's for a single person. If you talk about household income, it's easy for a working couple to surpass it, if at least one of them has a professional job.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:49 AM   #55
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You are eating "out" once per week? We eat once per week, at home, so that we can have money to travel.
We were doing that (eating out a lot) until we discovered this year we need to cut back on salt. I estimate we were consuming about 6000mg a day each from eating out.
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Old 11-11-2015, 08:11 AM   #56
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It was 1976 when I was getting 2.10. Like I said it was the youth minimum wage I think the regular minimum wage was 2.40, but I'm not positive
The federal minimum wage in 1976 was $2.30, in 1975 it was $2.10.
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Old 11-11-2015, 08:29 AM   #57
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The federal minimum wage in 1976 was $2.30, in 1975 it was $2.10.
You are nitpicking. Inflation was rampant then, who could have remembered exactly?

On 1/1/1975, it was indeed $2.10. On 1/1/1980, it was up to $3.10, according to the link provided by Independent. That's an increase of almost 50% in 5 years. Exciting time!

I probably remember the wrong date for starting salary of engineer, as I was still in school. The $17K-19K I mentioned as starting salary for a BSEE was probably later in 78 or 79, and not 76. When I got my graduate degree and started working in 1980, SS record showed that I made $26K that year.
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Old 11-11-2015, 08:45 AM   #58
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You are nitpicking. Inflation was rampant then, who could have remembered exactly?

On 1/1/1975, it was indeed $2.10. On 1/1/1980, it was up to $3.10, according to the link provided by Independent. That's an increase of almost 50% in 5 years. Exciting time!

I probably remember the wrong date for starting salary of engineer, as I was still in school. The $17K-19K I mentioned as starting salary for a BSEE was probably later in 78 or 79, and not 76.

I was still in school then. When I got my graduate degree and started working in 1980, SS record showed that I made $26K that year.

I graduated '79 w BSME and 17-19k is in the ballpark. I remember dreaming of earning 12k/ yr when I was working my way through school.


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Old 11-11-2015, 08:57 AM   #59
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I recall that as I was about to start work, I thought that I would reward myself with a BMW 730. Of course no way I could have afforded it with what I first made.

Then, came the cost of a home (14% mortgage rate) and raising a family, and to this point I never own a luxury car. Now, I look at fancy cars with indifferent eyes.
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Old 11-11-2015, 09:32 AM   #60
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It's all relative. High income people in HCOL areas may think $150K is middle income.
I think it's a bit skewed. In a HCOL area one might need a few hundred k income to afford a "middle" of the road house (or even a starter home) so they don't feel well off even if by national standards they are in the top income percentiles. Some services (like daycare) also scale with housing costs and also may put the pinch on an otherwise high income.

On the other hand, most material goods aren't any more expensive so people can easily afford the latest gadgets, cars, etc.
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