A Look Back at My Budget – 10 Years Ago

aaron_image1I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my simple budget 10 years ago this month and see what I was buying with my money and what type of income I was bringing in. Granted, I was less than a year into my “get-0ut-of-debt” journey, but I was well on my way and was going to stick to it.

It's amazing to think back to those times. I never thought I'd get out of debt. Fortunately, I had been given a couple of family loans (one from my mother and the other from a half-brother – which was yet to come). Although I ended up paying these back, they were able to give me some breathing room in that I didn't have the accumulating interest. 

>>> I've written before about loaning from family – it can work, if you do it right

My life 10 years ago

Just a little bit about what was going on in my life at the time. A year before, in 2003, I had gone through my first, tough break-up (remember yours – it felt like the world was coming to an end!). I had also been unemployed for about a year and then worked freelance for a friend. It wasn't making ends meet – so I began taking cash advances to keep up my lifestyle and pay bills.

Soon, I had racked up about $20k in credit card debt and I was in deep do-do. I decided it was time to change things up and ended up moving in with two other guys to share a duplex. It was a great time for me to regroup and the rent was really affordable (check it out – under $300!). It really ended up being a pivotal point in my life for many reasons – most importantly in terms of spiritual growth (learning greater dependence on the Lord) and changing the direction of my finances. Plus, I really met some godly and inspiring people.

At the time of this budget snapshot, I had just landed a long-term contract assignment as a designer for a large manufacturer. It was a nice bump in pay that really helped accelerate my get-out-of-debt goal. This was also the first time I broke down and finally got a cell phone. I was literally one of the last people I knew who didn't have a cell phone.

The budget

So, here she is (taken as a screen-grab off my high-tech, proprietary budgeting system: a Word doc). It was more of a tracker for expenses/income than a working budget:

budget ten years ago

It's crazy looking back at my financial life now and am glad that I kept this. A couple things to note:

  • As I said before, my rent was really cheap. And, this was right in the heart of a downtown major metropolitan city! We literally walked to the stadium a few times from our house. Normally living downtown comes with a high price tag. I had just read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, so I was ready to “live like no one else, so I could live like no one else later“.
  • There's a few evidences here of the “stupid” taxes I was paying:
    1. Car loan that I couldn't afford. I had this sweet VW Jetta that a guy sold me on in 2001 that I was half-way through in paying down.
    2. High car insurance because the car wasn't paid off and was relatively expensive.
    3. Mother loan. As I said, my mom helped me to pay off some credit card to save on interest payments.
    4. Other credit card payback
  • April was tax month – so I had a little expense there from monies owed.
  • $90 for gas! Wow. We're lucky if we don't pay over $200 for each of our two cars/month today.
  • Food. You can eat relatively inexpensive when you are single!
  • No cable bill or utilities. We had one TV in the house – and no cable. During this period I hardly ever watched television (even though I loved it – I really didn't miss it in those 3 years I lived there). The utilities were paid for by the landlord.

I think it's fun to see how things have changed – especially in how costs have gone up and how we're paying (today) for more things. I now have pet, child, cable bill, internet, cell phone plan(s), gym membership and mortgage costs I never had 10 years ago.

But, I'm blessed to have gotten rid of all that credit card debt and the school and car loans.

Am I odd, or do you save your budgets like this (and take a peak at them now and then)? How have things changed for you?

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  1. I don’t have any old budgets (well, at least not THAT old) given my wife and I really just started budgeting over the last year to 18 months. I’d love to look at what we’re doing now 10 years from now though. I loved your comment about the price of gas…I remember in high school filling up my tank for less than $15. I filled up yesterday and it was about $70. Yikes!

  2. Alas I don’t have a budget from ten years ago even though I should have, but when I recently looked back to where we were 2 years ago until now, it does give motivation that we are winning this debt war.

    Glad your walk down memory lane inspired you too!

  3. It’s amazing to look back! In the ’70s, I bought my first house for $27,500, and went from rent at $90 a month to $243 house payment (which included taxes and insurance), and I was so worried about making that payment! I remember having no credit card debt, nor a car payment (I owned a cute 1966 Volkswagen Beetle!), and I budgeted $70 a week for gas and groceries to feed me and my two kids.

    Back then, I thought it was hard, but looking back, life was so much more simple back then. I guess you could say then was the “Good ol’ days!”

    • Wow – I’d love that house payment! :)

    • So I take it you don’t have a car :) Yeah, it’s something you grow accustomed to and a large expense.

  4. I think it’s neat to look back on stuff like this, Aaron. Unfortunately, I never budgeted before last year, so I don’t have any budgets to look back on (I know – shame!) but I do remember the days of little to no rent payments. :-)

    • Those were the days!

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