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The Time Value Of Money. . .And Masons

September 17, 2021

I’ve mentioned that I’m the historian for Story Lodge #4 of Provo, UT. As such, I get to do “historical” stuff. And with a 149 years to draw from, there’s a interesting bits and pieces. One of the things I looked at was dues.

When the lodge was started, the dues were $12 year. Today the dues are $205 per year. So, who paid more, the founders back in 1872, or me this year when I handed over my bill pay information?

Here’s a chart of the dues amounts from 1872 to 2021.

But, that chart is not much good to us. Stuff was more expensive in the past, or it was cheaper then and costs more now because of inflation.

If we apply the consumer price index (CPI) we see the following chart.

As you can see when expressed in terms of 2021 dollars, those founders were shelling out quite a bit. In fact the highest dues paid were in 1885 where the Masons paid $362.44 per year. It was at that point that the lodge actually reduced the dues from $12 to $8 per year.

  • 1872-1885 $12
  • 1886-1923 $8

    1924-1969 $12
    1970-1980 $18
    1981-1989 $30
    1990-1999 $50
    2000-2010 $80
    2011-2013 $100
    2014 $130
    2015 $170
    2016 $180
    2017 $190
    2018-2019 $200
    2020-Present $205

Here’s a chart showing how much money the lodge had in the bank over the years. (1872-1989)

Again, expressed in 2021 dollars.

Something important happened in 1973. The lodge built a temple. That’s why the cash on hand dropped so significantly. (BTW, I’m still collecting data from the years 1990-2021)

But, ever since then, the lodge has struggled with finances. Was it a mistake to buy a building? Is that what threw the lodge finances into chaos?

I don’t think so. I think you have to go back to the dues discussion. Look at all those years (right after the temple was built in 1973) where the dues were the equivalent of $50 per year. The Lodge even upped the dues in 1981 from $18 to $30. Then again, in 1990 from $30 to $50. And again in 2000 from $50 to $80.

At the time I’m sure those seemed like significant increases. But, were they? No. They were not even keeping up with inflation at times. I joined the lodge in 2005. A few years after I joined we really started to see increases. 2011 it went to $100. Three years later it went up $30 more. Then, the following year it went to $170. And $10 per month after that. It’s tapered off a little the last couple of years. It went to $200 per year in 2018 and then $205 two years later.

But, the funny thing is if we look at the time value of money, I’m paying less this year than last year. In 2018 I was paying the equivalent of $216. Even when the dues increased the following year. They didn’t keep up with inflation.

Okay, so what’s my point?

My lodge is considering freezing the dues where they are at $205. After all, who wants to see their dues going up every year, right?

ME, for one. No, I don’t like paying more, but the fact is I’m paying less and less every year. Our brothers left the dues at $18 per year for a decade. And then left it at $30 for twenty years. And what happened? The lodge got less and less form dues every year.

What’s the “right” amount? I’m not sure. Certainly not the $350 that our brothers were paying in the late 19th century. But, also not the $50 that we were paying in the 1980s.

But, if the “right” amount is $205, to maintain that amount we need to keep up with the CPI (about 5% per year.) Time value of money means we have to keep moving forward to keep pace.

I’ll be voting to keep raising our dues. Because I don’t want them to go up, but I don’t want them to go down either.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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