• laurenjtenney

What Were You Worth?

Biggest Purchase of my working wages! circa 1984

Minimum wage is oft debated. I got curious. So I opened up a new browser window and look what I found!

A cool tool:


Go ahead try it! Enter what were you making in what year and BOOM here is how much spending power your past self would garner today.

My first job was washing dishes at the Kohala Mauna (Now home to a Denny’s) a couple of nights a week during high school. I worked about 10 hours a week for $4.00 an hour. That was just over the minimum wage of the day. (FTR I think this was a pretty good deal and it came with all the fortune cookies I could eat, so not too shabby.)

$40 bucks a week that I spent on clothes and movies. (TBH it was candy, soda and video games!)

Today a 16-year-old that lands a gig for just over minimum wage would earn about $8 bucks an hour. (Assuming this teen lives in a State that defaults to the Federal Minimum Wage. This map is a quick reference.) Today's first job worker would gross about $80.

Sounds like a lot of money for candy and such. Here is the real question, can today's teen afford the same extravagant lifestyle I enjoyed?

This calculator says that if I were a kid today with the same deal, I happened into in 1984, it would afford me about $100 spending power. Proof that wages are not what they used to be. Further research is needed to prove that I had it made. But take my word for it, those were the days!!!

What was your first Job? How does it hold up to inflation?

FULL DISCLOSURE: Before this official hourly job I delivered the Tuesday Shopper’s Guide after school for less than a penny per door, graduated to daily am delivery of the Burlington Free Press and I had been a very busy baby sitter earning 50-75 cents an hour for about two years at that point.

BONUS FACT: My first major purchase was a pair of Manisha Jeans that cost $30 and I bought them at the Mall paying all in quarters. And no, I didn’t even consider stopping by the bank and cashing in the change. Like I said those were the days!

Working People


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