There are signs around us that a dollar does today does not go as far as a dollar a few years ago. In this article, I will take a quick look at a long-maintained free and open source Android application called Inflation Calculator, available on both F-Droid and Google Play. This tool not only offers quick inflation calculations for the United States, but also for the United Kingdom and France.
The Android-exclusive application is written in Kotlin and it can be downloaded from the free and open source F-Droid application repository and from Google Play:
The current version 2.13 requires Android version 4.2 or newer, meaning that it should work on almost all Android devices still in use. It also works on devices running operating systems based on Android such as /e/ OS (see my review), LineageOS (piece on installing on 2013 Nexus 7), and Amazon’s proprietary Fire OS. Note that I am using it on my Pixel 3a XL running LineageOS, and I installed the application from F-Droid (see my 2021 survey of F-Droid apps).
Inflation Calculator is free and open source and free of cost.
We now turn to the Readme for Inflation Calculator to learn about its features.
As the name suggests, Inflation Calculator is a tool for “calculat[ing] the buying power in a specified year of any amount of money to an equivalent amount in another year by taking into account the inflation rate between those two years.” It can perform calculations for the following countries:
|United States||from 1913 to 2021||Bureau of Labor Statististics|
|United Kingdom||from 1800 to 2021||Office for National Statistics|
|France||from 1901 to 2021*||INSEE|
From 2002-2021, French currency is calculated in Euros. From 1960-2001, it is calculated in Francs. From 1901-1959, it is calculated in old Francs. The app handles the transitions automatically.
Note that as of version 2.13, which I am reviewing as of December 18, 2022, it is only possible to compare one year to another year. There is an open feature request on the Inflation Calculator’s GitHub repository to allow users to specify months when calculating inflation in the United States (e.g., October 2001 to January 2014). Mr. Garcia stated that he was adding the suggestion to his backlog, so we may see the ability to ask the calculator to perform more specific comparisons in the future.
I have the Inflation Calculator installed from F-Droid on my Pixel 3a XL running LineageOS. The app, which comes in at a small 2.2 mb in version 2.13, is small and simple. The only setting it has is to allow users to set it in dark or light mode (it follows the system setting by default). You can see what it looks like in both configurations below.
The Inflation Calculator has three drop down menus. The first allows us to select the United States, United Kingdom, or France..
The next two boxes allow us to select a start year and end year to compare inflation. Since I am an American, I will use my home country as an example. I received Pokémon Red for Christmas in 1998. I believe that it was $30 in 1998, which was par for the course for Game Boy games. What would $30 be in 2021 terms? Let us ask the calculator.
We can round that result up to $50. That is close to what I paid for Pokémon Violet one month ago ($60). Let us go backward and see what $60 would have been worth in 1998.
About $36. Not bad. Taking a glass half-full approach, I can think of Pokémon Scarlet as a great value (performance issues in all).
I noted in my table footnote in the previous section that there are a few interesting notes about how conversions work for France due to its having changed its currency. For example, if I try to compare 30 in 1998 to 2021 for France, the 1998 input is in Francs while the 2021 output is in Euros.
I am not a Franc-to-Euro conversion expert, so I will leave it to others to tell me how 30 Francs to 6.225 Euros is looking from an inflation perspective. Moreover, pre-1960 calculations are in old Francs. For example, see that 1950 to 1975 has an input in old Francs and a result in Francs (or new Francs):
To complete the French features, see an example of a conversion from Euros to old Francs:
All United States conversions are in U.S. dollars and all United Kingdom conversions are in Pounds Sterling. I would feel bad if we did not provide a screenshot of a United Kingdom example to go with our American and French tests:
Pounds do not go as far as they once did.