36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 015: 1971—What’s an Austrian schilling worth?


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 15 — 1971—What’s an Austrian schilling worth?
17-August-1971 (Tue.)


Normal day, as far as I can remember.


Wow, today's entry is short and sweet. Good thing, because I just got back from the beach and I’m too tired to write.

However, this might be a good time to talk about my finances during this year. I kept a little financial ledger to track expenses for a while. Here goes.

Finances. In 1971, the Walter D. Head Foundation fellowship provided a stipend of $1,400 for 10 months. $1,200 for tuition, room and board, and living expenses. And $200 for miscellaneous expenses. Basically, that was $120 per month for my school-year expenses. In addition, I had some personal savings and a loan that I took out. I kept my money in American Express traveler’s checks throughout the year. Though today, I would have opened a bank account. The German language course and one month in Vienna was on my expense.

So, how much did I spend? What did things cost? What was the value of the Austrian schilling in 1971? I’m not exactly sure.

What is an Austrian schilling worth? I didn’t write down what a schilling was worth. I only generalized, like $5 = 125 schillings. Who knows if that was accurate? So, the prices below are not exactly accurate.

August: 1 schilling = approx. $.04 cents
About 25 schillings per $1 US.

s = Austrian schilling
German language course 980s ($38)
Summer lodging during course 1276s ($51)
A 5-meal card cost 110s = 22s per meal, or about $1 per meal.

None of this helps if we don’t compare it to 1971 in the U.S. as well. However, I'm not comparing Apples to Apples below. Regardless, here are a few financial facts that I found on the Internet that are interesting and provide some perspective.

1971 vs. 2007. How does 1971 compare to today?

The US Consumer Price Index for July 1971 was 40.7.
The US Consumer Price Index for July 2007 was 208.3.
That means that in 2007, we are spending about five times the dollar amount to buy the same basket of groceries/goods than in 1971. Note that there are no homes in that basket.

That means that, in a normal universe, you can multiply the 1971 costs by 5x and get the 2007 numbers. Well, the 2007 numbers are much higher. New Jersey? More like, the world has gone insane. Or a parallel dimension (see string theory).

1971 prices
1971 source:
Avg. cost of new house ($25,250)
Avg. income ($10,600)
Avg. monthly rent ($150)
US postage stamp (8 cents)
Gallon of gas (40 cents)
Movie ticket ($1.50)

2007 prices
Informally, here is what is happening today (2007):
Avg. cost of new house (median: $222,000; source Realtors.org)
Avg. income (unknown)
Avg. monthly rent – don’t know, but I’m paying $1,200/mo. for an apartment. It’s crazy.
US postage stamp (39 cents)
Gallon of gas (ranges $2.60 to $3.25 with $2.90 the average)
Movie ticket ($9.75)

U.S. Post Office vs. Housing prices. God bless the U.S. Post Office for being the only reasonable price increase over time. Oh, an old regular house in my area may go from $350,000-$450,000, having appreciated about 100% in 2 years. New? $600-750k and up? Real estate prices are grossly over-inflated and it will affect the economy adversely. (Paying the piper.)

1977 prices
Here are some other price facts I found for 1977:
Loaf of bread (36 cents; today $3.00)
Gallon of milk ($1.67; today $3.25)
Gallon of gas (65 cents; today $2.50 to $3.25)
New home ($49,319) - notice that this is also about 100% higher than in 1971. I remember housing prices doubling once when I was younger (proably this period) and again in the 2005-07 time frame.
Annual income ($15,070)

1968 car prices
Here’s the best financial fact in 1968:
New BMW $2,597
New Chevrolet, Impala sport coup, $3,468
Holy cow! Chevys were more expensive than BMWs!

After this price diatribe, let’s hope we don’t have any more “non-post” journal days.

Good value in 1971. In truth, the 1971 US dollar was a good value in Vienna, that is until Nixon devalued the dollar coming up in the next weeks, I believe. Regardless, I had a lot of value for the dollar. For example, seeing many operas in standing room for about $1. To be balanced, life was also much less expensive in the States during those times.


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