Isn’t it great to be alive today? Christmas 1964 shopping list edition

Mark J. Perry at Carpe Diem often uses a delightful formula that consistently makes me thrilled to be alive today.

General formula is this:  You could have bought item X in whatever year. For the same amount of inflation adjusted dollars or same hours of labor, today you could buy X, plus Y and Z, along with A, B, C, D and E.

His post yesterday, The Magic and Miracle of the Marketplace: Christmas 1964 vs. 2011 – There’s No Comparison, has cool pictures from the 1964 Sears Christmas Catalog.

One of those really cool, great big, color TV consoles that takes up an entire wall could be had for $750 back then.  Adjusted for inflation, that would cost you $5,300 in 2010.  What could you buy today for inflation adjusted $5,500 today? His shopping list:

For a consumer or household spending $750 in 1964, all they would have been able to afford was a console color TV from the Sears Christmas catalog.  A consumer or household spending that same amount of inflation-adjusted dollars today (about $5,500) would be able to furnish their entire kitchen with 8 brand-new appliances (refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, range, washer, dryer, microwave and blender) and buy 9 state-of-the-art electronic items (laptop, GPS, camera, home theater, plasma HDTV, iPod Touch, Blu-ray player, 300-CD changer and a Tivo recorder). 

Check out the post for a great visual of what you could then compared to now.

Here, let me reformat that list for you.  For equal amounts of money, adjusted for inflation, choose one of these lists as a Christmas gift for your whole family:

 Choose this:

  1. console color TV from the Sears Christmas catalog

OR this:

  1. refrigerator,
  2. freezer,
  3. dishwasher,
  4. range,
  5. washer,
  6. dryer,
  7. ***microwave
  8. blender
  9. ***laptop,
  10. ***GPS,
  11. camera,
  12. ***home theater,
  13. ***plasma HDTV,
  14. ***iPod Touch,
  15. ***Blu-ray player,
  16. ***300-CD changer, AND
  17. ***Tivo recorder).

What’s your choice?

I thought so.

Oh. The items with that *** thingie?  Those didn’t exist in 1964.

By the way, if you like this formula (and I get a real kick out of it as you can tell) the good professor gave away his secret ingredients:

Christmas catalogues are found at:

available here at WishbookWeb … 1933 to 1988.

Inflation adjustments are calculated using:

converted to today’s 2010 dollars using the BLS Inflation Calculator

I think I ought to cook something up with his recipe.

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