What you could buy for R1 in 1961 versus now

What you could buy for R1 in 1961 versus now

No matter how much we want to deny it, money does make the world go round and, unfortunately, we just can't escape inflation!

Cash money

It was on the 14th of February 1961 when the official currency of South Africa was introduced.

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After SA gained its independence and became a republic, as Queen Elizabeth ceased to be the head of state, the British-styled currency (pounds, pence, etc.) left along with her.

The old currency was replaced with the new and the original exchange rate stood at two rand for every one pound.

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Unfortunately, since its launch, inflation has been depleting its buying power by 8% every year, and as of now, one pound will cost you a whole R20.

This leads us to the following statement:

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Many of us are either too familiar with this phrase because our parents or grandparents have said it multiple times or because we have now uttered these words ourselves.

And although we would have thought it was a joke back then, we have come to realise that this statement does indeed ring very true.

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So as we reflect on the 60 years of the South African rand, why not have a look at what you could actually buy for R1 way back when?

According to Statistics SA research, this is what you would have been able to buy in 1961:

  • Three 5kg cotton bags of mielie meal (30c each). Current price for equivalent size: R49,27
  • 1.5kg fresh chicken (70c/kg). Current price: around R58,09 (as of 2020)
  • 3 x 340g corned beef tins (29c each). Current price: R27,21 (300g tin)
  • Ten x 1kg loaves of white bread (store baked), at 9c each. Current price: R15,21 for 700g (sliced)
  • Three dozen large eggs, at 34c a dozen. Current price: R37,60.
  • 5kg tomatoes, at 20c/kg. Current price: R20,74c/kg.
  • 4kg apples, at 23c/kg. Current price: R15.76/kg.
  • More than one pound (450g) of pure ground coffee, at 87c/pound. Two 250g bags today will average R147,38.
  • Six pints (570ml) of beer, at 16c each (and 2c refund). Current price for 330ml lager: R14.56 (no refund).
  • Five packs of cigarettes, at 19c for a pack of 20. Current price: around R43.

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Another Statistics SA analysis also shows that beer and bread prices have increased quite steadily, whereas coffee and chicken prices have taken off and exploded since 1961.

Stats R1
Department of Statistics South Africa

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Consumer prices have also increased a massive 97 times between 1961 and 2020. This means that spending R100 in 1961 would be the same as spending R9,700 on the same items in 2020.

During its first year of life, the inflation on the rand remained pretty tame.

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In 1961, it had remained at an average rate of below 2%, with the highest recorded inflation in the 1960s being 4,6% in 1966.

And as they say: the rest is history.

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Inflation climbed almost as high as 20% in September 1986 because of the sanctions and apartheid turmoil during that time, combined with the oil price hikes, which led to a weakened rand.

Now the annual inflation has averaged at 8%, although the rate for 2020 was 3.3%.

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After reading all of these stats, we will forever reminisce fondly about the days when we could buy 20 Chappies for R5.

Although it seems like those days are far, far, far behind us now.

For more of the best Darren, Keri, and Sky moments, listen here

Main image courtesy of iStock

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