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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Prices: 1966 vs Today

Well its Thursday and we're back.. Ready for more finance fun..

One of my favorite all-time movies is the film "The Endless Summer", a surfing documentary about two guys who basically travel the southern hemisphere looking for the perfect wave..

It is a wonderful film even if one has little to no interest in surfing because being made in the mid 1960's its a fascinating look at what life was like back then, particularly in Africa and Australia.

On the first stop on their journey. the two surfers flew from LA to NY and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Senegal, and we thought from a finance point of view the following was interesting..
The announcer mentions during the voice over that the hotel room they stayed at was a whopping $30 a night and the following morning when seeking to buy coffee, they were being gouged by having to pay a whole dollar for a cup!

Later in the film when the surfers are in South Africa, the announcer complains that gas cost the equivalent of $1 per gallon..

Imagine that..  What was once ultra-inflated prices and utter rip offs would be heaven to be charged today..

Kinda scary to think in 10 or 20 years how much these things will cost and how people will look at 2014 prices as quaint or a real discount..
Back in 1966 when the film was made, $1 not only bought more but to have the same spending power today, you'd have to come up with $6.74 today to match a 1966 dollar...

The average house back then was just over $22k which would be the equivalent of just over $148k today..

Of course even with year seven of the never-ending recession-depression, the average home price is currently its $188k...

In 2008, the average home price was $238k; a $50k decline on average in 7 years

The average car price back then was $2,600 and equal to a little over $17,800 today..

Today, the average new car cost $31,200 -- Thank goodness for 72 month loans, ehh?
Notice how much things have gone up?  Prices are higher than the 1966 equivalent..

Some will say because cars are 'safer' and have more bells, whistles, gadgets and do-dads..

Its also because the currency isn't pegged to anything real so as the Fed prints more, the everyday person needs more of those little pieces of paper or digital eqivalent to pay bills and make purchases

Now back then the average wage was $4,938 which equals $33,286 and in 2014, the average wage is just under $46k meaning people on average are collecting $13k more now vs then..

Yay right?

Let's see how far that money goes..
In 1966, a gallon of gasoline cost 32 cents..  The national average today for regular unleaded is $3.67, an increase of just over 10x or 1000%

So..  two drivers.. 1966 gal and 2014 guy..  Each fill up their tank weekly with 15 gallons..  How much does each pay?

1966 gal:  15 gallons x $0.32 = $4.80 x 52wks equals $249.60 for the year

2014 guy:  15 gallons x $3.67 = $55.05 x 52wks equals $2862.60 annually

$2,862.60 - $249.60 means 2014 guy spent $2,613 more than 1966 gal.
So if you take that $13k in more salary and minus the $2,613 more in gas spent now vs then, you're left with $10,387

Back in 1966, a gallon of milk was 99 cents.. Today its $4 and climbing..

So if you drink one gallon weekly, you spend $152 more today than then..

Add up every item you buy at the supermarket like that and then the bills and taxes.. and don't forget that gasoline.. And that $10k goes poof in no time and now getting into personal debt to make up the shortfall.
By the way, in case you're curious the national debt was $338 billion with a 'B' and that was with LBJ escalating involvement in Vietnam

Today its over $17.5 Trillion with a 'T'

The point of this isn't to simply wax nostalgic or provide some useless trivia tidbits..

Beyond natural inflation which makes prices of goods and services rise along with wages, the heavy debt load and constant monetary printing has caused everything to cost more over time with wages being stagnant or jobs shipped off abroad..

If you want to know why women depicted on TV did not work and pretty much were shown as home makers, it wasn't chauvinism..
It was that it was the norm since back then one wage earner (the man) could earn enough to support not only himself and his wife in comfort but also raise a couple children in a nice home with white picket fence..

And he didn't take on debt to make this so..

Today's woman not only Must work to survive even in a marriage but in some cases take on a secondary income as well..

Sorry but when a woman Has to work vs Chooses to, that's not my kind of woman's lib..
So as the Endless Summer of the northern hemisphere is just on the horizon, we think of the beauty of nature--from pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters to even more sparkling bright skies and beaming sunshine..

And think on the 'then' vs 'now' of cost and expense.. and try hard to block out of mind the 'yet to come'