Sometimes you find things enroute to seeking other things. Last night was one of those times. I ran across a $25 Savings Bond which my great-grandparents had given me as a birth present in 1961. I had pretty much forgotten the bond even existed, but finding it got me to wondering what it might be worth.

Of course there is a web site which will tell you the current and future value of savings bonds. So I get there and find that this particular bond stopped earning interest altogether after 40 years. Unfortunately for me, that was a few years ago. But the good news is that the $25 is now worth $201 and change.

That seemed pretty cool. But after a fashion, it just got me to wondering again. An 8x return seems pretty good, but there’s 40-odd years of inflation baked in there as well. What would $201 today be worth in 1961 dollars? Turns out it’s only about $35, which sounds paltry. But this was a time when gas was a quarter/gallon and you could buy a decent house for under $20k. It might be more useful to go the other way. The bond originally cost $18 to purchase in 1961. That $18 today is about $101.

So the good news is that my ancestors weren’t cheap. That’s a substantive gift. The bad news is that in 40 years I only doubled the money. Not too exciting from a financial perspective, but then again, a damn sight better than the stock market has done this year!

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