I’m not a member of the Money Blog Network, but they pose interesting group writing projects from time-to-time. This month they asked bloggers to compare their finances today with how they were ten years ago. Ten years ago was an interesting period in my life, and I just happen to still have the tax records from 1998, so here goes!

My Career
Ten years ago I was three years out of college and still working in the field of my degree. It was a low-paying field but I’d managed to snag a relatively high-paying job in 1997, around $36K a year, plus medical. 1998 was my highest paid year for a long time because a miserable work situation forced me to start cutting my hours after that year. I was also renewing my interest in writing and earned a whopping $20 from side projects that year.

My Debt
After college, I had a string of low-paying freelance jobs, and then a low-paying full-time job ($6 an hour). That meant that I had about $10,000 in debt racked up by 1998. The money went for things like groceries and gas, not for anything fun. I had no college debt and was transferring the credit card debt between zero-interest cards while I worked it down. I also had a car loan, which I was still paying off.

Unfortunately, I received an inheritance of $52,000 that year (which is why I have the tax records still). That allowed me to pay off my debt, buy decent furniture, save a little for retirement, and invest in the stock market. Yes, I invested just in time for the big crash of 2000. Yay me!

My Living Situation
Due to a series of bad living situations, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment by myself in 1995, and was still living there in 1998. My landlords had never increased my rent, so I was paying $600 a month for a nice little place with a kitchen I miss to this day.

Fast Forward Ten Years
Now I’m working in a field that didn’t exist in 1998, and have another degree. I’m also married. Together our income is significantly higher than my solo income ten years ago, but it’s taken us a long time to get there. Although I had no credit card debt when we married, he did and we created more while we were both in grad school. I also married into significant student loan debt, and have some of that of my own.

I hoped we’d own a house by now, but the market run-up made that impossible. I do regret investing in the stock market rather than buying a small condo in 1998. If I’d bought real estate, I would have had to sell it at the peak, because that’s when I got married and our stuff won’t fit in a one-bedroom. I could have $400K to put down on a new house! But instead, I have $0 to put down. The retirement savings and investments were used to pay for school and a period of self-employment when that bad work situation got so bad I had to quit.

So ten years later, I’m starting over again on building a financial future. My financial resolutions will have a significant chunk of debt paid off by the end of this year, and we’ll be boosting our retirement savings, too. It’s not a great place to be, but I think the next ten years will be much, much better financially than the last ten.


One Response to “Looking Back at My Financial Life 10 Years Ago”

  1. Jeff Clair on May 28th, 2008 3:01 pm

    All the best Aryn!

    It’s great that you will become debt free by the end of this year and at the same time you are serious about your retirement savings. By doing so, your future would be financially sound.

    Jeff Clair

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