Age vs Money: How Time Changes Our Perception of Cash

$20 when you're 18 isn't the same as $20 when you're 48.

Rachel Greene
(Image credit: Tumblr)

Rachel Greene

(Image credit: Tumblr)

Money can't buy happiness—but there sure are a lot of things it can buy to get you pretty close. There's no denying that we all feel a bit better when our wallets are a little thicker. But what those crisp bills mean in terms of real life purchases can change drastically with your age. When you're a kid, your weekly $5 allowance may make you feel like King Midas, but ten years later, you realize that you could find that same $5 digging through your couch cushions. As time goes by, our age isn't the only thing that matures, our perception of a dollar does too. Here, we take a whimsical look at how you feel about cash through the years.

In your teens:

$20 = Dinner and a movie, better known as the perfect Friday night (with all your BFF's, of course.)

$50 = A really crazy afternoon "shopping spree" at the mall.

$100 = A weekend worth of baby-sitting earnings.

$1000 = The collective balance of the savings account your parents set up for you 10 years ago, fueled by birthday checks from Grandma.

In your twenties:

$20 = Your estimated budget for a night out.

$50 = Your actual spendings on a night out.

$100 = Too much money to throw down without some serious deliberation before hand.

$1000 = Rent (Although this barely skims the lower half of what you're paying if you live in NYC or SF. Le sigh.)

In your thirties:

$20 = Barely covers a drink at dinner.

$50 = What you've learned is the minimum charge from any worthwhile hair stylist.

$100 = About a month's worth of diapers.

$1000 = A little less than your mortgage payment.

In your forties:

$20 = The amount you hand over to your son or daughter on a (seemingly) daily basis.

$50 = The price of a night's freedom in the form of payment to your baby-sitter.

$100 = The standard amount of cash you're carrying around in your wallet—because you never know when you might need it.

$1000 = Money that will, most likely, be funneled into your child's college fund.

In your fifties:

$20 = What you're willing to throw down for a great lunch. You can't put a price on midday happiness.

$50 = The mani/pedi that is no longer just an indulgence, but is medically necessary.

$100 = A fraction of the up charge your car insurance provider will charge you once you add your kids to the plan.

$1000 = A sum of this size is going towards a well-deserved vacation—without the kids.


Diana is a producer at She previously wrote for Diana is a Syracuse grad and a Chicago native, and therefore a pro at dealing with cold weather. She's also an Anglophile, which means she love all things British—especially Downton Abbey, London, and Will and Kate (and Prince George!)