The Falling US Dollar and Foreign Exchange Rates – My Walk Down Memory Lane

April 3, 2008

As a kid growing up my family traveled to Europe several times in my younger years.  I was already interested in money back then, finding the currency changing booths and turning our dollars into English Pounds, German Marks, or French Francs was pretty neat. 

Foreign Currency is Cool
I was fascinated by all the different types of coins but my favorite conversions were always the ones where our dollar bought the most of the other currency.  It was cool when you could convert your 1 dollar into 4 marks, and then pay 1.5 marks for a big jug of Coke, it was like Coke was always on sale!

Army Brat Lives the High Life
I thought I had it made then, little did I know I’d really clean up several years down the road.  We packed up and moved to Germany during my high school years.  Although, the Deutsche Mark to US Dollar conversion rate wasn’t as good as it had been, there were other, far better, currency opportunities awaiting us.  On countless number of weekends we’d load up our mini-van and travel to various destinations in Central or Eastern Europe.

The Iron Curtain had come down and economies in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia were getting their first taste of capitalism.  Their currencies were so cheap my sister and I could spend our measly teenage incomes like kings in Prague or Bratislava.  Although we weren’t always happy about leaving our friends for the weekend to travel to another European city, going shopping there always made you feel like you had a ton of money.

The Summer of Eurail
The allure of Europe and it’s diverse cultures drew me back again for an entire summer during college.  My girlfriend (now my wife) and I traveled the continent by train and I showed her the ropes.  The Euro had just been introduced , I remember buying food at a grocery store in Nice, France and the reciept showed the price in both Francs and Euros.

Exchange rates weren’t as good as they had been but we were poor college students so of course everything seemed expensive.  A taxi from the train station to the leaning tower of Pisa was going to cost way too many lira so we hoofed it instead (big mistake, should’ve spent the money).

The Falling Dollar
I haven’t been back to Europe since but would love to return.  I’m afraid my next trip will be a rude awakening as the US dollar continues to fall.  The trips to the currency exchange booth will no longer be an exciting adventure, but rather a depressing reminder of our weakened purchasing power.

In hindsight, if I’d have been smart enough to see the continuing trend and started dabbling in Forex trading in college I could have made a pretty penny simply by buying and holding Euros.  I do have a few in mint condition that I bought as collectors items during our trip but I’ll probably hold onto those for the memories.  They’ll remind me not only of the fun we had on our travels but also of the buying power the US dollar used to carry.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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2 Responses to The Falling US Dollar and Foreign Exchange Rates – My Walk Down Memory Lane

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    Yes indeed, back in the days the US Dollar used to be a strong currency but with the introduction of the Euro and the European and Asian economy rising, the Dollar began to loose its strength.


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