Home > A Financial Look Back

A Financial Look Back

January 3rd, 2009 at 04:35 pm

Well, I updated my net worth in my last post:

However, though I have discussed more of our history here and I have a "How We got Here" category, I haven't been good about having any resource for new or occasional readers.

I feel like my blog has been considerably more organized lately, but that is one are where I have lacked. Likewise, I have often thought it would be more interesting to share how we got here, than where we are now. Which I am sure there are a lot of questions about that in general.

So, don't know why it never occurred to me before, but yesterday I was suddenly excited to piece together about 10 years of net worth history. There is a lot of estimating involved, though I actually had bank accounts and stuff, and I keep meticulous track of our retirement, so most of the assets are pretty exact. I guessed more on home and auto values, and mortgage balances, etc. I know I was in the ballpark which is all that really matters.

It's interesting too because I look back at things I often find that memory and reality do not jive. Wink So it was a good exercise to look some things up.

& this is what I came up with:


I have said often that I graduated college with a net worth of $0. I'd be lucky to have a few hundred dollars in checking and the car I drove was probably worth $100. Wink

BUT, one thing my memory failed me was how generous my grandparents had been. My grandfather passed right before I began college, and my grandmother gave my sister and I $20k each at the time. I got such a chip on my shoulder that I "did it all myself" in college that I forgot about most of that money. If you asked me I would have said it was $10k and I didn't touch it. BUT I came across some financial records lately that showed it was $20k. I honestly did not remember at all. I spent most of $10k of it my first 2 years of college when I was making less money. By 3rd year I was making about $10k/year and didn't touch the rest of it until we bought our home. It's kind of mind boggling to me. Money was so tight back then, why on the heck didn't I touch it? I was crazy. LOL. I would have never guessed I was so frugal back then. But yeah, it's just interesting. It basically helped me move out on my own before I really had the income or means. Which saved my sanity. Thank Goodness!

Also, dh worked since he was 15 and pretty much saved every dime. He made as much as me in college but he had no bills. So I estimated we left 1998 with about $30k in cash. My $10k and he had saved up about $20k by then. Maybe more.

This is where people annoy me about my dh's situation. So what he hasn't worked in 6 years? There is NO WAY we would have had it so good in our 20s if dh hadn't of saved every dime he ever made pretty much. I mean when he worked, he always saved 90%+. ALWAYS. It's why he can afford some time off. Wink


1999 we graduated college and tripled our wage. ($10k to $30k, each). We saved our $20k raise each for 6 months and had the cash to put down on our condo.

My 20-year-old Toyota died about the same time I started my job. I bought a "like new" Mustang for about $5k. I borrowed the money from my parents at 0% and paid it back before year end probably. That is one where I had to guess. So, our car value went up a tad. I would have kept driving my old clunker if it had more life, but the engine blew. My job required about 30k miles a year anyway, so it was hard on that car. Dh had to replace his first car in college so he was driving a car worth about $1k then.

The car thing is also where we saved considerable money. Those old cars never had much in car repairs. Not more than a few hundred dollars a year.

Also, going to public college in California was VERY cheap in the 1990s. My entire education cost about $10k, books and all. His parents paid for his. I worked and paid as I went. We had no college debt.


In 2000 we saved most of dh's wage. We both ended up making closer to $40k that year. Dh invested much in tech stocks. We started to put away money for retirement, etc.


2001 was interesting. We decided to move to cheaper lands. But our timing was bad. The plan was to sell the condo for $100k profit, BUT we put it on the market right around 9/11. We literally expected it to sell in a day with multiple offers, as real estate had been insane for MANY years. BUT in the end we couldn't sell it for even what we bought it for.

We went through with the purchase of our new home in December 2001. We almost didn't, but we decided to go through with it. I can't say owning 2 homes is something I would ever do again. But we lucked out.

We left the year with a pile of debt. We were honest on our loans and I think they were both no doc loans. They didn't blink at lending us $500k when we made maybe $100k. (One job was 100+ miles from our new house. Dh had to sign some form that he could work from home or something, to get the loan). Just a sign of the times.

In the end we did buy a house, twice the size of our condo, complete with yard and garage, and luxury throughout, for the same price we bought and sold our condo for. So it was a good move. Pretty much could never afford an actual house back home.

By year end we were both making $50k. I quit my job mid December for the move and had a job lined up here for Jan. 1. I expected a 10%+ pay cut with the move, but with benefits I actually made a little more here, to boot.

We had saved a lot of cash in 2002, but sunk it into the house. We borrowed a chunk from our condo too, for the down payment on the house.


In April 2002 we sold the condo. Phew! I know many people assume we made the move just for equity. Well, we didn't end up with any! House sold for about $300k and after fees and costs we got about $275k. We had paid $260k. We made a small profit, but we also maintained/owned 2 homes for 4 months. I consider it rather breakeven.

But we were able to buy TWICE the house with that money. It was less about equity; more about the lower cost of living.

Dh looked for a job up here but never found one. He wanted to move from marketing into advertising but most of the firms around here had government contracts and were hurting in 2000.

Since we were still saving his entire wage but we no longer had to save massive amounts of cash for a house (as we had to back home) we felt pretty good and decided we were ready for kids. So we started trying to conceive. I became pregnant in October 2002 and dh was laid off from his job back home in November. We had really counted on saving his wage for another 9 months, so it was kind of a blow to us. We are extremely fiscally conservative!!!

Oh yes, dh's old car was on its last legs in 2002 so we bought a newer car when we sold the condo. We bought a 2001 Ford with 15k miles for $7888. Best car deal we ever got. The car is awesome.

The stock market was not nice during this time frame.


In 2003, BM was born. I took about 12 weeks off work, partially subsidized by disability insurance (short-term, mandatory in Cali actually).

I waited until the bitter end, but BM was born in July and it was around September and my return to work that dh finally convinced me that my Mustang convertible was NOT going to work with the baby. So I sold it for $3k and bought an old Saturn with tons of miles for $800. We wanted to get a minivan eventually, but just didn't feel ready. We wanted more kids and wanted to be prepared if I was ever to be put on bedrest as the sole breadwinner, etc.


Not much went on in 2004. I became pregnant with our second child.

During these years we shifted a lot of cash to our IRAs (2003, 2004, 2005). So our cash was going down a bit but our retirement went up.


2005 was the end of our "carefree" years.

LM was born and with the new "Family Leave Act" in Cali, I was able to take 12 weeks off after he was born. I took off about 4 months with him. I received about $800/week for 16 weeks (disability/family leave), so we didn't have to touch savings too much.

I remember this being one of the most special times in our lives. Having a second child was a considerably easier adjustment, AND I didn't have to rush back to work 8 weeks post partum. Of course, fact is I had gone back to work 8 weeks PP with my first and I never saw it as a big deal. It was an easy transition since my job was so close and so low stress. BM slept most of the time I was at work, and it just worked for us.

LM was another story. I returned to work in October and he refused to take a bottle. I started to fall apart. I asked my boss if I could work part-time for a bit and was mortified when I burst into tears in his office.

I realized about that time I had PPD. The many months at home I had no idea because I couldn't have had it more easy or been more relaxed. The cool thing about having a SAHD is that I never had to care for a new baby alone.

I had an inkling something was amiss because I started to have panic attacks in traffic. It was odd, but it never occured to me that was a sign of PPD. So I returned to work, and the slight stress of going to a job I love pretty much sent me over the edge. There were signs much earlier on but I just had no idea.

I also gained new respect for women with PPD. Most of the women I know were often misdiagnosed and most of them had crappy husbands and no help. I think, of course watching a new baby with no help is depressing. Doh! But it was so much more than that. I couldn't have had a more supportive boss or a more supportive husband, and I pretty much couldn't function.

I do share because I had a lot of pre-conceived notions about PPD, and it wasn't at all what I would have thought it was. For one, it was a time in my life that I could have hardly been happier. I was okay as long as I was at home, had no responsibilities but a good baby, and didn't have to go anywhere or do anything. Which is pretty unrealistic for most people to achieve.

Part-time worked out okay. I was pretty stubborn and breastfeeding and so had no interest in talking to my doctor. The last thing I wanted to be was drugged up in my state. No, I don't recommend taking my course of action.

Since I was only working part time, and that pay was WAY less than disability, dh started to look for jobs. Even just seasonal things for Christmas, etc. It was a very hard time because it was then we realized the jobs we scooped up in college were not available to SAHDs who had not worked in a while. It was maddening that he couldn't even get a minimum wage job. & he faced a lot of blatant discrimination. So it was just a very frustrating time.


In 2006 we just sucked it up. We knew we had to tighten our belts and move on. I returned to work full-time Jan. 1 and it worked out. I would say I was only half there at work for about 2 years though. I was lucky that my full speed at work was like 2 employees so my half speed was still good enough that my boss was patient with me. IT's our only saving grace for that time. I am very thankful to this day to how understanding my boss has been these last few years.

In 2006 we also went ahead and bought that minivan. Nothing was wrong with my old clunker. I think it is a decision we regret a bit. Probably a little premature, but packing those 2 carseats in the subcompact was driving us nuts. (Though the infant seat was only used 6 months and yeah, looking back, we could have stuck it out).

We had some tech stocks that had done terrible and we just sold those and paid cash for the van. Financed a little because it was a low interest rate and we didn't want to spend all our cash.

2006 was also when I joined SavingAdvice. I realized if dh couldn't find a job, we were screwed. It was just always our backup plan and it was very disheartening when it was kind of ripped out from under us.

Him staying home was always a very temporary consideration. The biggest change since being here is we start to realize that maybe we could live on one income and do well, indefinitely. IT's kind of a mind shift for us. I think ideally we assume dh has many working years left ahead of him (when the children are older). BUT it's much more comforting to not have to rely on that second income. Ever again.

Anyway, 2007 was a really good year for us because we got some cash gifts and I vested in my retirement plan at work. So we had some nice windfalls in 2007. In 2008 we just saved more, and we hope to save even more in 2009.

6 Responses to “A Financial Look Back”

  1. Amber Says:

    lol, MM I find that find that memory and reality do not jive for me as well. What a nice gift from your grandmother and you used in a positive way so many people including myself probably would have wasted that money
    I just a had discussion with my sister and said that once my car is paid for and dies I am not buying another car unless I can pay cash. I have decided like Julia I would sock away my car payment every month even when I do not have one

  2. Analise Says:

    MM, very interesting post. I like the way you've organized the information on the spreadsheet. Also, you are very frank in discussing issues often swept under the carpet (PPD). It helps others to see that one can and does get through life's trials.

    Regarding your comment:
    This is where people annoy me about my dh's situation. So what he hasn't worked in 6 years?
    I admire that you and your dh work as partners to make a home for your family. This is the 21st Century and folks need to think outside the box. Your situation (SAHD, working mom) is getting more common, thankfully. Who cares how you make it work... you are making it work and your children are the winners. Dads can nurture just as well as moms. And, I agree you probably wouldn't be as solid financially if you had approached it the "traditional" way. Good for you for having the conviction and commitment to do it your way.

  3. homebody Says:

    As usual, very interesting.

  4. zetta Says:

    Fantastic post!

  5. monkeymama Says:

    Thanks for the nice comments.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    "You probably wouldn't be as solid financially if you had approached it the "traditional" way."

    Very True. But that's the thing - it wasn't just about finances for us either. PErsonal preference as well. Wouldn't be as sane or healthy either probably. The kids are far better off having daddy home than me, for sure. Financially we were probably on pretty equal footing, but for the move and dh kind of not knowing what to do. But he's the kind of guy if he had to who could have found a job and made about as much. Our salaries were always about equal. I was just concerned he wouldn't be happy.

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