$500 in 1785 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $14,101.39 today, an increase of $13,601.39 over 236 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 1.43% per year between 1785 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 2,720.28%.

This means that today's prices are 28.20 times higher than average prices since 1785, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 3.55% of what it could buy back then.

The 1785 inflation rate was -4.90%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 5.25%^{1}.
If this number holds, $500 today will be equivalent in buying power to $526.26 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 2,720.28% |

Average inflation rate | 1.43% |

Converted amount ($500 base) | $14,101.39 |

Price difference ($500 base) | $13,601.39 |

CPI in 1785 | 9.700 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1785 | -4.90% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$500 in 1785 | $14,101.39 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $500 in 1785 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $500, you would need to end with $14,101.39 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $500 is equivalent to $14,101.39 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 1785 dollars, the chart below shows how $500 is worth less over 236 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 1785 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,720.28% change in prices:

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

$1 dollar in 1785 | $28.20 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1785 | $141.01 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1785 | $282.03 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1785 | $1,410.14 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1785 | $2,820.28 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1785 | $14,101.39 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1785 | $28,202.78 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1785 | $141,013.92 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1785 | $282,027.84 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1785 | $1,410,139.18 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1785 | $2,820,278.35 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1785 | $14,101,391.75 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1785 | $28,202,783.51 dollars today |

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £500.00 in 1785 would be equivalent to £80,552.15 in 2021, an absolute change of £80,052.15 and a cumulative change of 16,010.43%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $13,601.39 and total percent change of 2,720.28%.

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 1785 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.43% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $500 in 1785 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.88 | 798,030.21 | 3,990,651.06 |

Housing | 4.16 | 1,501,903.79 | 7,510,018.96 |

Apparel | 1.95 | 9,460.71 | 47,803.55 |

Transportation | 3.26 | 195,648.39 | 978,741.94 |

Medical care | 4.69 | 4,949,539.32 | 24,748,196.61 |

Recreation | 1.13 | 1,305.29 | 7,026.44 |

Education and communication | 1.83 | 7,084.29 | 35,921.47 |

Other goods and services | 4.94 | 8,707,239.83 | 43,536,699.14 |

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 1785. 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 1785 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1785

×

1785 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 9.7 in the year 1785 and 273.567 in 2021:

273.5679.7

×

$500

=

$500 in 1785 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $14,101.39 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 236 years between 1785 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1785CPI in 1785

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

273.567 - 9.79.7

×

100

=

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

- The Times is published for the first time by John Walter of London
- James Hutton's theory of uniformitarianism is read in public at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- US currency named "dollar" and decimal coinage adopted by Congressional resolution

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: “$500 in 1785 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 24 Sep. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1785?amount=500&endYear=2021.

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

Cumulative price change | 2,720.28% |

Average inflation rate | 1.43% |

Converted amount ($500 base) | $14,101.39 |

Price difference ($500 base) | $13,601.39 |

CPI in 1785 | 9.700 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1785 | -4.90% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$500 in 1785 | $14,101.39 in 2021 |