How much would a $60,000 salary in 1988 be today?

I was talking to my wife a while back about a friend I had in high school whose parents made $60,000 between them and how rich I thought they were despite having a fairly modest lifestyle. (I can not remember how I learned of their income.) I was sort of laughing at my younger self, thinking $60,000 had been a fine income but not that big of a deal.

My wife said, “Well, that probably would be a lot of money today, probably double now. They’d probably be making $120,000. That’s good money.”

“No!” I protested. “It wouldn’t be that much different today.”

“You don’t think so? That was almost 30 years ago.”

Yes it was. My curiosity piqued, I looked online to try to figure out how much $60K in 1988 actually would be today. I used a couple different calculators, and most came to about the same $125,000 (or so) estimate that I got from the Dollar Times calculator.

When you’re living through the times, you notice prices and wages change little by little, but it’s only when you take a longer look back that you see how these numbers can actually double (!) over a relatively short period of time. You don’t have to go back 100 years when a dozen eggs cost 15 cents to get the idea — you only need to look back at your earlier self to see what things cost and how much and how quickly it has changed.