Cost of 18th century living

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This Presidents Day marks George Washington’s 280th birthday. So it’s the perfect time to look back at how much it cost to live back then. I’m Clark Palmer with your Personal Finance Minute.

Online news site 24/7 Wall St. estimated each U.S. President’s net worth. George Washington was worth about $525 million in today’s money, making him one of the wealthiest presidents.

Currency in George Washington’s time was quite different than it is now. Sometimes, there actually wasn’t enough currency to go around. So that snappy new hat could cost anything from a couple of days’ labor to a helping of tobacco.

However, when it came to building a house, it was astonishingly cheap because there was so much land and timber to go around. Filling the house with furniture was cheap too because you made things yourself.

Alcohol in George Washington’s time was also very cheap. A gallon of domestic rum went for as little as 1 shilling and 8 pence in the mid-18th century. Beer was sometimes even cheaper because many colonists brewed their own.

For more information on the history of money in the U.S., visit I’m Clark Palmer.