$3.50 in 1970 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $24.68 today, an increase of $21.18 over 51 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.90% per year between 1970 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 605.07%.

This means that today's prices are 7.05 times higher than average prices since 1970, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 14.18% of what it could buy back then.

The 1970 inflation rate was 5.72%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 5.25%^{1}.
If this number holds, $3.50 today will be equivalent in buying power to $3.68 next year.
The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

Contents

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Cumulative price change | 605.07% |

Average inflation rate | 3.90% |

Converted amount ($3.50 base) | $24.68 |

Price difference ($3.50 base) | $21.18 |

CPI in 1970 | 38.800 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1970 | 5.72% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$3.50 in 1970 | $24.68 in 2021 |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $3.50 in 1970 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $3.50, you would need to end with $24.68 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $3.50 is equivalent to $24.68 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1970 dollars, the chart below shows how $3.50 is worth less over 51 years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

This conversion table shows various other 1970 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 605.07% change in prices:

Initial value | Equivalent value |
---|---|

$1 dollar in 1970 | $7.05 dollars today |

$5 dollars in 1970 | $35.25 dollars today |

$10 dollars in 1970 | $70.51 dollars today |

$50 dollars in 1970 | $352.53 dollars today |

$100 dollars in 1970 | $705.07 dollars today |

$500 dollars in 1970 | $3,525.35 dollars today |

$1,000 dollars in 1970 | $7,050.70 dollars today |

$5,000 dollars in 1970 | $35,253.48 dollars today |

$10,000 dollars in 1970 | $70,506.96 dollars today |

$50,000 dollars in 1970 | $352,534.79 dollars today |

$100,000 dollars in 1970 | $705,069.59 dollars today |

$500,000 dollars in 1970 | $3,525,347.94 dollars today |

$1,000,000 dollars in 1970 | $7,050,695.88 dollars today |

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1970 to 2021 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $3.50):

**San Francisco, California**: 4.21% average rate, $3.50 → $28.68, cumulative change of 719.33%**Seattle, Washington**: 4.11% average rate, $3.50 → $27.34, cumulative change of 681.28%**Boston, Massachusetts**: 3.96% average rate, $3.50 → $25.41, cumulative change of 626.00%**New York**: 3.90% average rate, $3.50 → $24.68, cumulative change of 605.14%**Atlanta, Georgia**: 3.80% average rate, $3.50 → $23.41, cumulative change of 568.72%**Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas**: 3.78% average rate, $3.50 → $23.17, cumulative change of 562.05%**Philadelphia, Pennsylvania**: 3.75% average rate, $3.50 → $22.84, cumulative change of 552.52%**Houston, Texas**: 3.74% average rate, $3.50 → $22.77, cumulative change of 550.69%**Chicago, Illinois**: 3.73% average rate, $3.50 → $22.65, cumulative change of 547.15%**Detroit, Michigan**: 3.64% average rate, $3.50 → $21.68, cumulative change of 519.30%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 51 years between 1970 and 2021 (4.21%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 51 years between 1970 and 2021 (3.64%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £3.50 in 1970 would be equivalent to £55.54 in 2021, an absolute change of £52.04 and a cumulative change of 1,486.80%.

In Canada, CA$3.50 in 1970 would be equivalent to CA$23.69 in 2021, an absolute change of CA$20.19 and a cumulative change of 576.85%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $21.18 and total percent change of 605.07%.

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1970 and 2021.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.90% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $3.50 in 1970 → 2021 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.83 | 581.39 | 23.85 |

Housing | 4.07 | 664.55 | 26.76 |

Apparel | 1.40 | 102.94 | 7.10 |

Transportation | 3.57 | 499.60 | 20.99 |

Medical care | 5.51 | 1,443.28 | 54.01 |

Recreation | 1.13 | 77.02 | 6.20 |

Education and communication | 1.83 | 151.86 | 8.82 |

Other goods and services | 4.92 | 1,055.52 | 40.44 |

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1970. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1970 and today:

CPI today
CPI in 1970

×

1970 USD value

=

Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 38.8 in the year 1970 and 273.567 in 2021:

273.56738.8

×

$3.50

=

$3.50 in 1970 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $24.68 in 2021.

To get the total inflation rate for the 51 years between 1970 and 2021, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2021 - CPI in 1970CPI in 1970

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

273.567 - 38.838.8

×

100

=

The above data describe the CPI for all items. Also of note is the **Core CPI**, which measures inflation for all items except for the more volatile categories of food and energy.
Core inflation averaged 3.81% per year between 1970 and 2021 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.90%), for an inflation total of 573.30%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $3.50 in 1970 is equivalent in buying power to $23.57 in 2021, a difference of $20.07. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $24.68 with a difference of $21.18.

In 1970, core inflation was 6.25%.

The average inflation rate of 3.90% has a compounding effect between 1970 and 2021. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 605.07% over 51 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $3.50 in the S&P 500 index in 1970, our investment would be * nominally* worth approximately $747.75 in 2021. This is a return on investment of 21,264.40%, with an absolute return of $744.25 on top of the original $3.50.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered *nominal*. In order to evaluate the *real* return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 0.00% of returns ($0.00) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted * real* return of our $3.50 investment is $0.00. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $0 for most people.

Original Amount | Final Amount | Change | |
---|---|---|---|

Nominal |
$3.50 | $747.75 | 21,264.40% |

RealInflation Adjusted |
$3.50 | $0.00 | 0.00% |

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1970 to latest available data for 2021 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1970 and 2021, see the stock market returns calculator.

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

- January 1st, 1970 established as Epoch time for UNIX systems.
- Rhodesia declares independence and sets up a republican government.
- Aswan Dam opens in Egypt to prevent flooding of the Nile River.
- A Palestinian terrorist organization hijacks three aircrafts in an incident that is later known as Black September.

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$3.50 in 1970 → 2021 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 16 Sep. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1970?amount=3.50.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.

Cumulative price change | 605.07% |

Average inflation rate | 3.90% |

Converted amount ($3.50 base) | $24.68 |

Price difference ($3.50 base) | $21.18 |

CPI in 1970 | 38.800 |

CPI in 2021 | 273.567 |

Inflation in 1970 | 5.72% |

Inflation in 2021 | 5.25% |

$3.50 in 1970 | $24.68 in 2021 |