Where were you (financially) ten years ago?
Ten years is a long time, and sometimes it’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come.
It was the spring of 1998, and I was still in graduate school. We had just one child, and he was only 7.5 months old. After his birth in the fall of 1997, my wife scaled back to working half-time and we were splitting shifts to keep our son out of daycare.
She worked in the mornings while I stayed home and then she came home while I did the grad school thing from late morning until… Well, whenever I managed to finish up and get back home. Life was busy, but life was good.
From a financial perspective, we were getting by, but just barely. About a year earlier, when we decided to start a family, I started getting my head straight financially. I started reading more broadly, including plowing through Time is Money which, as I’ve mentioned before, is probably the most formative financial book that I’ve ever read.
Around that same time, I also started tracking everything in quicken (I now have eleven years worth of data!) and taking an active interest in managing what little money we had. Despite our limited means, we always managed to steer clear of debt — this was a huge accomplishment that set us up financial success down the road.
I was also starting to dabble in investing via dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs), but we were still years away from opening our first online savings account, and the concept of buying index funds or investing through a discount broker was still far off in the distance — we didn’t have enough money to meet the fund minimums or to keep the brokerage costs down.
In the time since then, I changed jobs a couple of times, we bought (and sold) our first house, bought another house, and had three more kids (not necessarily in that order). Our income and net worth have grown steadily, we’ve built a solid investment portfolio, and we’re still debt-free (except for a 15 year mortgage).
So… What did we learn from all of this?
- The importance of living below your means – we’d never be where we are if we had loaded up on debt
- Patience – it sounds cheesy, but good thing come to those who wait
- The value of paying our dues
What about you?
What were you doing ten years ago? And how far have you come?
Be sure to check out these other great contributions:
Â» My Finances 10 Years Ago and Now (Free Money Finance)
Â» Looking Back: 10 Years Ago (No Credit Needed)
Â» My Finances Ten Years Back (Mighty Bargain Hunter)
Â» How My Current Financial Situation Compares with a Decade Ago (Get Rich Slowly)
Â» Looking Back: The Difference 9 Years Makes (Consumerism Commentary)
Â» Then and Now: What Our Finances Looked Like Ten Years Ago (All Financial Matters)
Â» Money Management Lessons: Not Quite 10 Years to Life (Wise Bread)
This article is part of the MBN Group Writing Project on financial retrospectives.