$3,500 in 1880 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $93,871.03 today, an increase of $90,371.03 over 141 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.36% per year between 1880 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 2,582.03%.

This means that today's prices are 26.82 times higher than average prices since 1880, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 3.73% of what it could buy back then.

The 1880 inflation rate was 2.00%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 5.25%^{1}.
If this number holds, $3,500 today will be equivalent in buying power to $3,683.79 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 2,582.03% |

Average inflation rate | 2.36% |

Converted amount ($3,500 base) | $93,871.03 |

Price difference ($3,500 base) | $90,371.03 |

CPI in 1880 | 10.200 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1880 | 2.00% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$3,500 in 1880 | $93,871.03 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $3,500 in 1880 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $3,500, you would need to end with $93,871.03 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $3,500 is equivalent to $93,871.03 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1880 dollars, the chart below shows how $3,500 is worth less over 141 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

This conversion table shows various other 1880 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,582.03% change in prices:

Initial value | Equivalent value |
---|---|

$1 dollar in 1880 | $26.82 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1880 | $134.10 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1880 | $268.20 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1880 | $1,341.01 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1880 | $2,682.03 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1880 | $13,410.15 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1880 | $26,820.29 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1880 | $134,101.47 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1880 | $268,202.94 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1880 | $1,341,014.71 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1880 | $2,682,029.41 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1880 | $13,410,147.06 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1880 | $26,820,294.12 dollars today |

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £3,500.00 in 1880 would be equivalent to £431,896.63 in 2021, an absolute change of £428,396.63 and a cumulative change of 12,239.90%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $90,371.03 and total percent change of 2,582.03%.

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1880 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.36% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $3,500 in 1880 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.88 | 21,344.89 | 750,570.98 |

Housing | 4.16 | 31,188.44 | 1,095,095.53 |

Apparel | 1.95 | 1,424.96 | 53,373.66 |

Transportation | 3.26 | 9,160.84 | 324,129.26 |

Medical care | 4.69 | 63,698.25 | 2,232,938.80 |

Recreation | 1.13 | 385.00 | 16,974.98 |

Education and communication | 1.83 | 1,185.61 | 44,996.52 |

Other goods and services | 4.94 | 89,307.15 | 3,129,250.35 |

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1880. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1880 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1880

×

1880 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 10.2 in the year 1880 and 273.567 in 2021:

273.56710.2

×

$3,500

=

$3,500 in 1880 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $93,871.03 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 141 years between 1880 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1880CPI in 1880

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

273.567 - 10.210.2

×

100

=

The average inflation rate of 2.36% has a compounding effect between 1880 and 2021. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2,582.03% over 141 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $3,500 in the S&P 500 index in 1880, our investment would be * nominally* worth approximately $1,093,455,764.55 in 2021. This is a return on investment of 31,241,493.27%, with an absolute return of $1,093,452,264.55 on top of the original $3,500.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered *nominal*. In order to evaluate the *real* return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 96.27% of returns ($1,052,686,048.91) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted * real* return of our $3,500 investment is $40,766,215.64. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $34,651,283 for most people.

Original Amount | Final Amount | Change | |
---|---|---|---|

Nominal |
$3,500 | $1,093,455,764.55 | 31,241,493.27% |

RealInflation Adjusted |
$3,500 | $40,769,715.64 | 1,164,749.02% |

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1880 to latest available data for 2021 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1880 and 2021, see the stock market returns calculator.

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

- Construction begins on the Panama Canal.
- The United States constructs its first dedicated sewage system in Memphis, Tennessee.
- The Salvation Army is formed in London.

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$3,500 in 1880 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 27 Sep. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1880?amount=3500.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.

Cumulative price change | 2,582.03% |

Average inflation rate | 2.36% |

Converted amount ($3,500 base) | $93,871.03 |

Price difference ($3,500 base) | $90,371.03 |

CPI in 1880 | 10.200 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1880 | 2.00% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$3,500 in 1880 | $93,871.03 in 2021 |