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Home > 1999 vs. 2009 (Budget)

1999 vs. 2009 (Budget)

July 9th, 2009 at 08:35 am

Really funny, but I ran into some old files on my computer.

I have said many times I am not much of a "budgeter." Not a strict one anyway. But, whenever life changes I tend to run up a budget to see where we are at and what our course of action should be. Thus, I am not terribly surprised that I found an old budget from 1999 (when I graduated college) and one from 2003 (when my first child was born).

In fact, I MUST have a budget from when dh and I first combined our finances - I will have to hunt it down (I am curious now). That's certainly the only time I remember making one, pre-2006.

Anyway, I only started using Quicken in 2006, and so I find anything prior to that is more of a guess - or reliance on scattered paper records, etc. SO, it was really interesting finding some old budgets. I decided to put them side by side (& will be interesting to add on in future years). I think it's interesting some of our expenses (like healthcare) have exploded, while others have stayed the same for a decade (landline?).

These all happen to be one-income years (1999, 2003, 2009). Dh was working in 1999, but we weren't living together or combining finances, etc. We got married and all that in 2000.


Obviously, my income has done quite well. Interestingly, my taxes have not gone up much over the years. Lots of tax breaks with the kids and the whole one-income thing. The mortgage helps too. I have never withheld more tax than I needed to!


Medical: Obviously, my medical insurance premiums look horrific. They are, but I am covering 4 people now, as opposed to one in 1999.

Dental/Disability: I now pay those privately, and save for those through "short-term savings." Dental cost way more, with 4 of us. Disability - I probably pay double that, these days.

Rent: This one is interesting. I rented a room in a nice home in a decent neighborhood, for about 5 years, through college. This is one expense I did not see increasing just because I graduated college. If I was single, would have stayed there a few more years, easily. Anyway, I have no doubt said, many times, that owning is cheaper than renting where I come from. Looking at this sheet, you wonder, "how?" Um, I had a room for one person. 2 wouldn't have been allowed. More importantly, it was a sublease from a renter who had been there MANY years. Our rent was rarely raised. The entire 3-bedroom house cost about $1600/month to rent and was a complete steal. (I had the most modest room and paid slightly less than 1/3. There was nothing modest about this room BTW - LOL - it was huge). Basically, I don't think it would have been possible for us to rent an apartment for as much - certainly not one with room for kids. So, my rent was cheap - but it wasn't very feasible to find cheap rent once we married - and we were always thinking ahead to when we had kids. BAsically, at marriage we were done renting with other people to keep costs down.

Mortgage: We have refied that down over the years. 8%+ down to 4.875%.

HOA: I was surprised to see our HOA fees used to be higher. I had completely forgotten. Dh reminded me that we used to pay more because few houses had been built when we moved in - they lowered it as people moved in, etc.

(The HOA on our old condo has gone from $250 to $400, monthly, in just a few years. So I daresay we have been lucky here).

Auto gas - I find my 2003 budget figure interesting. I used to drive home for lunch every single day. Gas was considerably cheaper in both 1999 and 2003. Am I driving more now? Not in the least!! Though my current budget figure is more forward thinking/inflation including. I rarely spend $300 on gas any given month. But, no doubt the expense has gone up.

Food - we have added a few mouths to feed.

Clothes - was always my big splurge

Gym - I used to get a good deal on 24 hour Fitness, through my work. These days we pay about the same for dh and I to go to the discount/no-frills gym. I didn't feel we could afford a gym when we had BM, but I guess I would have considered it if I knew there were such cheap options.

Landline - Back to old $25 now that dh let me drop call waiting. (I always had my own landline - for internet).

Cell - I had a cell (& internet) in 1999, but my parents paid for it. My dad had aol from way back, and I had an account many years. I just dialed up, of course. I don't remember when or why they got me a cell phone. I am sure I got my own plan sometime not too long after graduating college.

We've been able to lower our costs since, by adding our parents to our family plan, and sharing the costs.

Utilities - they have gone way up. No biggie renting with the roommates - they were never home. I was home even less - so our utilities were low. Plus we split them. Water was very cheap in San Jose - I was shocked at our water bills when we moved up here. !!

Cable - the first luxury we added when we married. I am surprised cost has stagnated. Seems like we have been paying more lately. But I think dh had HBO when BM was born. That probably explains it.

Gardener - a luxury we added in 2005 - LOVE it.

Preschool - a luxury we added in 2006, and which will entirely disappear in just one year. That will be divine.

Expenses Reimbursed - At my first job out of college, I made this budget before I got heavily into it. Truth is I spent a LOT more on driving and on eating out (part of the job) but was reimbursed handsomely for most of it. So I had a "reimbursed" category. I did spend a lot more on gas and food that first year or 2, but since it was reimbursed, guess it doesn't really matter. I was able to stretch my paycheck a lot further with all the extra money.

Car - I bought a $6k car around the time I graduated college, and paid it off in a few months. (My 20-year-old car had the decency to die 2-3 months out of college - phew). So it was one expense I kept very low. The auto reimbursements were quite high compared to my actual auto costs. Helped to bulk up my savings.

Savings - I was really surprised I seemed to take care in calculating semi-annual expenses in my 1999 budget. Shouldn't be surprised - I lived on a shoestring so long - no doubt I needed that planning. That pretty much sums up most of my college living expenses, etc., when I made far less money.

Obviously, my savings in 1999 was far simpler. (I was also surprised I had a 401k category - I wasn't able to contribute until mid-2000. Planning ahead I guess).

I have since simplified, since we have so many items to save for (property taxes, insurance, vacation, dental checkups, car repairs, and many other irregular expenses). I just put $1k per month away, for all that now. This is an area where a lot of our expenses have gone up, post-kids. We have lots more insurance, etc., than we did in 1999 or 2003.


The whole point of sharing is to illustrate how much easier it was to live below my means immediately post-college, than it has been since having children, etc. To the YOUNG people.

I was NOT deprived in 1999 - I had tons more savings and disposable income than I do today. Big Grin

I traveled a fair amount back then. It was just so cheap alone (You know, stay with friends, split hotel room) that it hardly warranted a mention in the budget. The thing I Struggle with these days is how so many things seem to cost times 4 (with 4 of us).

People all the time assume living so tightly in my youth sucked. The thing is, it paid off so quickly. The truth is I just wasn't much into material things. My life was very rich with people and experiences. The $6k car I bought was an immaculate, cute, convertible. Those were some fun times. Big Grin "Deprived" is not the word I think of when I think back to my early 20s.

(It was easier back then because everyone else was young and broke too - not a lot of financial pressure! PArticularly with the exorbinant rents - none of my friends had much disposable income).


Going forward? We've been trying to limit our regular monthly expenditures to the realm of $4000/month (indefinitely). We no doubt increased our expenses over the years, with mortgage and kids, but we don't really have any new "luxury" expenses on the horizon. Happy with where we are at. We are also pleased with our insurance coverages, etc., for the long haul. So basically, outside rising costs /inflation for our current expenses, we don't expect to add much to the expense column. (This holds true even if dh lands a high paying job - we'd just save it and pay off the mortgage. We'd be willing to help more with college. Boring stuff like that).

It helps that our biggest expense, the mortgage, is not going up. On the contrary, it has gone down with time, literally (refis) and inflation-wise.

It will be interesting to check back in 6 years and to see where we are at.

5 Responses to “1999 vs. 2009 (Budget)”

  1. whitestripe Says:

    really interesting post! i love seeing people's expenses compared. not many people would put their income either, but i am glad you did. i like that its more than doubled too Big Grin i've only been trackiong expenses for a couple of years. it would be interesting to compare my expenses when i first started, i might do that soon. thanks for the idea!

  2. monkeymama Says:

    I like that my income has more than doubled too. Big Grin
    Brings up a point though - we grossed almost 9k per month at our peak combined income (most of the time we both worked we did make more than we do today). We never spent (a lot) more just because we had more income.

    So my income has gone up, but we are still making significantly less than we did in 2001. Doesn't really matter - that whole living below your means thing has paid off well. IT's just an interesting dynamic that my income has gone up so much, but our household income has gone down so much. Wink
    (Truth is our net is about the same today anyway since we were taxed so heavily with the 2-income thing. I would never recommend taking a pay cut to save taxes, but I would recommend working less to save taxes. Wink ).

  3. Looking Forward Says:

    Your budgeting posts have inspired me to get more detailed than my current monthly pen and paper "budgets". I was looking at trying Quicken's FREE online program. Any thoughts?

  4. JJ76 Says:

    Yeah, I went and got Quicken in hopes to be just like Monkey Mama... It's not working! lol...
    I have a hard time getting the bank info to download, tons of password issues. And I think it's best to start at the beginning of a month maybe? Or should I even wait until January? Any tips, Mama?

  5. monkeymama Says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply (it's been a little crazy here!)

    I have not heard much good about the free online Quicken. I don't remember what I heard bad about it. I actually keep my Quicken data on an external hard drive and don't store my passwords in it, due to security fears. I am sure it is "Secure" but I don't want someone to have access to all my bank accounts just because they steal my laptop, etc. The online thing makes me nervous for that same reason. I have heard overall it does not have all the features of the full version.

    NPNG - I actually bought Quicken around the beginning of a year - and went back and entered data to Jan. 1. Because it would have driven me nuts not to. I would at least start at the beginning of the month - yes. It probably took me a while to set it up and figure it out. I do think that I find it way easier to navigate than the avergae person because I am an accountant and am used to various accounting software (they all have similarities). So in the forums where Quicken is beaten down, I am not quick to defend them because I know non-accountants don't care for it as much. Admittedly it's been a little quirky. The new version is 10 times better than the 2006 version I had. & the benefit really comes once you've tracked your expenses for 3 years, etc. Just gets better with time and more data.

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