How Much Did Things Cost in the 1980s?

We look back at prices on everyday items, from gas and stamps to milk and eggs, in 1985, the midpoint of the decade, and compare them to today's prices.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The year: 1985. Reaganomics was in full swing, runaway inflation was finally easing, and the Dow Jones industrial average rose a whopping 27.7% to 1,546.67. It was the halfway point of the Decade of Greed.

But did the go-go economy and sizzling stock market mean everything cost more in the 1980s? Not necessarily.

We compared the prices of several everyday items in 1985 to today's prices to get a sense of how they've fared over the past three-plus decades -- both on an actual basis and on an inflation-adjusted basis. What we found might surprise you.

Median costs for consumer goods were provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research (opens in new tab) (C2ER), unless noted otherwise. Inflation-adjusted prices were calculated using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI Inflation Calculator (opens in new tab).

Andrea Browne Taylor
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and is a channel editor for Kiplinger.com covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C.