I 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.
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:
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:
- 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.
- High car insurance because the car wasn't paid off and was relatively expensive.
- Mother loan. As I said, my mom helped me to pay off some credit card to save on interest payments.
- 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?