My Great grandfather had a penchant for signing up with the military. He registered twice, once at age 17 and once at age 19. The story has it that he also signed up when he was 30, but I haven't found those records yet.
Each time that Hugh signed up, he was given £10. His first stint in the army was with the Highland Light Infantry. He lasted 43 days. Hugh's second stint with the Army was with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB's). This time, he lasted 258 days and was dressed in his gear long enough to have his picture taken.
I have felt that the reason for Hugh signing up was purely a financial decision. My guess was that £10 in 1887 and again in 1889 would have been worth a small fortune. But I really wasn't sure how much. Then I came across this wonderful currency converter on the National Archives website. It will convert old money and let you know the value of that money in 2005. The converter will convert money from as far back as 1270.
So, I decided to give it a try. It turns out, I was right. £10 in 1887 would have been the equivalent to $598 in 2005. That is still a while ago, so I wasn't totally satisfied with that answer. Then I found this website that will convert money values from as far back as 1980 and tell you what they would be worth in 2011. The £10 signing up fee for Hugh would have been the equivalent of $695 in today's markets. That's nearly $1400 since he signed on twice. Not a bad wage. Especially when he didn't have to actually work for it.