What the 1940 Census Reveals about Rising Costs

I recently wrote a piece describing how I had taken one of DNA test to confirm my Irish heritage.  You can read that blog post here:  Irish confirmed.

In that piece I described how after taking the test and getting my results that I was contacted by a distant cousin who gave me my Crimmins family tree.  With that, I also received information on my grandparents.

A 1940 census worker outside a home by US Census Bureau

The United States conducts a census every 10 years to collect data and information about life in the United States at that time and they did so in the year 1940.

That census information was part of the information received regarding my grandparents.

On the handwritten ledger, I was able to review the information concerning my grandparents and my aunts and uncles who are living at the time including my dad Robert J Crimmins who was a one year baby old at that time. 

And while this was interesting to see, what was really interesting was the information provided concerning my grandparents lives.

We have written numerous posts concerning the need to appreciate and prepare for the never ending increases in the costs of goods and services in the future.

It’s a strange fact that for most of us the slow gradual increases of everything that we need to buy does that resonate in a way that is required to ensure you are prepared for this reality in retirement.  When you have a 30+ year retirement, it is imperative that you understand.

I think the information found in this 1940 census helps illustrate the point. As a write this post in 2018 less than 80 years from this government undertaking, the realities of the ever-increasing cost of goods and services become apparent.

My grandfather worked for the telephone company in 1940 and he was one of the lucky few who worked the entire year.  There in the ledger under the question “how many weeks did you work the previous year” and the answer was filled out “52”.  The modern worker would be not understand how valuable steady work was back then.

The modern worker would also be horrified to know that for my grandfathers’ hard labor working those 52 weeks that year that he was paid the gross sum of $3,300.  That’s right three thousand three hundred dollars.  At the time my grandparents were supporting their four children with my uncle Jimmy arriving the next year.

The more important part of the story was that they were not impoverished.  On the same sheet of the 1940 census that my grandparents were on , there was an additional 10 families and not a single other person listed earned more than my grandfather.  Several had half that annual income.  The cost of everything that they needed to buy to live life was significantly less.

They lived in their Brooklyn NY home having purchased their home for $5,000. Now those homes are going for $500,000+.

This reality of everything that we need to support a lifestyle costing more is important when the modern retirement will last 30+ years.

Will your current or future retirement income allow you to maintain your lifestyle in retirement with the costs of goods and services rising through time?

If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time that you speak to a financial advisor who understands this is more important than speculating on the short-term movement of the stock market.

Give us a call if we can help you answer that question.

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The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Crimmins Wealth Management and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.

About Dan Crimmins

Dan Crimmins, co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management, is a financial coach and fee only financial planner. Have a financial question? ASK DAN


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