Sep 28, 2023

Interactive: The Real Value of $100

How could $100 actually be worth considerably more (or less)? It all depends on where you live.

One hundred dollars is one hundred dollars, right? Not exactly. If you live in California, one hundred dollars will get you less than if you live in Nebraska, and even less than if you live in Alabama. How can that be? Here's the explanation from this interactive map that shows the real value of $100 in areas throughout the United States:

"The difference between the most and least expensive areas tends to correspond to differences in housing costs. Generally, states with higher nominal incomes also have higher price levels as they tend to see the prices of finite resources like land rise. When residents seek to occupy a limited amount of available land, it pushes up the cost of housing. Areas with higher costs of living also tend to pay higher salaries for identical jobs, which can offset at least some of the lower average purchasing power."


A map showing the real value of $100 in different areas of the United States.



  • How does the purchasing power of $100 vary between different states or regions of the United States? What factors contribute to these differences?
  • How does the cost of living in urban areas compare to rural areas? How does this impact the value of $100?
  • How can individuals and families make informed financial decisions based on the varying real value of money in different areas?
  • Would you use this data to make a decision on where you would like to live in the future? Explain why or why not.


Consider the value of $100 and more in the activity COMPARE: Select a City to Live In.


Check out NGPF's Budgeting unit for more resources to get your students on the right budgeting path.

About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan grew up with and maintains a love for learning. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration and worked in sports marketing for a number of years. After living in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota, the call of education eventually brought Ryan back to his home state of Wisconsin where he was a Business and Marketing teacher for three years. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife and daughter, play basketball, read, and go fishing. Now with NGPF, Ryan is excited to help teachers lead the most important course their students will ever take.

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