5 Things That Were WAY Cheaper in the '80s

There are a lot of perks to being alive today. You can access whatever information you’re seeking instantaneously, from practically anywhere. You can have essentially any product delivered to your door within 24 hours of thinking of it. You can use extremely advanced technology for an affordable price tag. And you can share everything — articles, your thoughts, your location, and even your latest purchase — with you friends and family with the touch of a button. All of this would have seemed insane a mere 30 years ago. Sometimes it does feel like we’re living in a sci-fi movie from the ’80s.

But…the ’80s had a few things going for them that wouldn’t be so bad nowadays. Namely, cheaper things! Of course, inflation does factor into the price increases we have seen throughout the years, but it can not explain the jump in every cost that we incur. Here are a few things that were a little easier to buy in the good ol’ days.


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For less than $1, you could mail four letters in 1985. At that time, the price of a single first-class stamp was $0.22. Considering what happens when you drop a letter in a mailbox (i.e.- it travels across the country and lands on the doorstep of the person to whom you’re writing), that is pretty incredible. That being said, the cost of a stamp is less today than it would be if we account for inflation. That $0.22 should have the same buying power as $0.52 today. Instead, we shell out a cool $0.50 to mail a letter in 2018. So even though it might seem like a lot, it’s less than it actually could/should be.


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A half gallon cost $1.09 in the ’80s. It’s crazy to think that anything healthy could actually be that cheap. The good news is that with inflation, that same half gallon should cost $2.58 by today’s standards, but we only pay about $1.96 per a half gallon in 2018. Keep in mind that this price is associated with regular milk. These days many people opt for organic or added DHA Omega-3, which definitely hike up the cost.


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Fulfilling the American dream by buying a home is not as easy as it once was. In the ’80s (1985 to be exact), the average price of a new home was $96,200. While interest rates were probably much higher then than they are now, getting a new house for under $100,000 is a steal. With inflation, that same amount would be $226,000 in today’s dollars. Unfortunately, the average cost of a home is much higher in reality. Today, it costs $369,900 for new digs.

Movie Tickets

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My favorite line from Young MC’s “Bust a Move” was always, “Your movie’s showin’, so you’re goin’, could care less about the five you’re blowin’.” Yes, there was a time when $5 could get you into a movie. In fact, in the mid-’80s, the average cost of a ticket was only $3.55. Inflation would put that at $8.40 in 2018, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The current average price of a movie ticket is $9.18. If you live, however, in or near a big city, you’re probably paying much more. Where I live, just outside of NYC, we pay $12.50. And if you actually live in NYC? It’s $19.99, baby. Ouch.

College Tuition

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There was a time when a part-time job, along with some summer job cash, could cover much of the cost of a college education. In 1988, the average annual tuition at a non-profit college was $15,160. So for about $60k, you could graduate with a degree from a decent university. Today, you are looking at $34,740 — at the very least. Many liberal arts colleges cost much more. With inflation, that price in 1988 should be $32,698 today.