The State of $100

December 13, 2017
Greg Kelly

How much is $100 worth in the state you call home?

When I was a young guy, $20 could last me a whole weekend. My how times have changed. Even in this day and age of low inflation (less than 2 percent annually), $20 can go really fast. Poof, it’s gone! The new cash yardstick for assessing your spending is $100.

While $100 is a paper bill denomination that has still some impact (cash with cache), where you live can a be a big factor in its true purchasing value and thus on your personal pocketbook, according to a recent report by The Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit organization.

The range of how far a “C-note” can go is pretty significant. The gap between the state where $100 buys the most (Mississippi) and the state where it buys the least (Hawaii) is about $32. So, are residents of the Magnolia State over 30 percent richer than those of the Aloha State? It seems that way.


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“Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia,” according to Amir El-Sibaie, a staff analyst for The Tax Foundation. “In other words, by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after-tax income in Mississippi, you would need after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living.”

In general, El-Sibaie explains, “states with higher nominal incomes also have higher price levels. This is because in places with higher incomes, the prices of finite resources like land get bid up. This is especially true in cities.”

The $100 mark is a useful and understandable multiplier for veterinarians. According to a recent report from PetPlan, the average annual bill for unexpected veterinary care is now about $1200, or $100 per month.

The states where $100 buys the most:

1. Mississippi ($116.01)

2. Alabama ($115.21)

3. Arkansas ($114.42)

4. South Dakota ($113.38)

5. Kentucky ($112.87)

6. West Virginia ($112.49)

7. Ohio ($112.11)

8. Missouri ($111.98)

9. Tennessee ($111.23)

10. Oklahoma ($111.23)

The states where $100 buys the least:

51. Hawaii ($84.18)

50. District of Columbia ($85.47)

49. New York ($86.73)

48. New Jersey ($88.18)

47. California ($88.18)

46. Maryland ($91.24)

45. Connecticut ($92.00)

44. Massachusetts ($93.55)

43. Alaska ($94.70)

42. New Hampshire ($95.24)

As far as the purchasing power of $100 in metropolitan areas, the worst was Honolulu, Hawaii ($80.32) and the best was Beckley, West Virginia ($125.47.)

This report might even serve as a guide for hard-working but struggling veterinarians seeking to get ahead. According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the nation’s rural areas are suffering from a lack of veterinarians. Since the states with the best $100 buying power generally fall into the “rural” category, it seems that veterinarians willing to relocate can find more bang for their hundred bucks.

Greg Kelly is a long-time health care writer and editor. He has written for the Physician’s Money DigestTM, Dentist’s Money DigestTM, and Veterinarian’s Money Digest® websites. He lives at the Jersey Shore and welcomes comments at