Then & Now: What Our Finances Looked Like 10 Years Ago Compared to Now

This is part of the May MoneyBlogNetwork group writing project.

Ten years ago our finances were totally different than they are today. Here’s some of the significant differences:

1. Housing

Ten years ago…

We were still renting an apartment but were looking for a house.


We have been in our house nearly nine years and love it (for the most part). We were blessed in the fact that we just happened to buy the right house in the right neighborhood. We also made some wise choices along the way. We resisted the temptation to buy more house than we were comfortable with, which was a huge benefit to us. We put off major renovations until we could comfortably afford them.

2. Spending

Ten years ago…

We made our share of mistakes. We charged silly expenses like eating out, groceries and other things. We racked up a good amount of credit card debt along the way.


We paid off ALL OUR CREDIT CARDS a couple of years ago and have been credit-card free ever since. We use our debit/Visa check card for all purchases. I really think the debit card was our saving grace because we pretty much quit charging stuff after we started using our debit card. In the past the credit card was used for convenience. However, we always tended to charge more than we anticipated and when the bill came in the following month, we were shocked at how much we had actually charged. Immature? Yes. Fortunately, we cut out that silliness and are now debt free except for our car loan and mortgage (and a TV purchase made at 0% for two years which I could pay off if I needed to).

3. Retirement Planning

Ten years ago…

My wife had been contributing to her 401(k) for about a year. That was the BEST decision we ever made!


Although I won’t mention specifics, the 401(k) has grown to a substantial amount. We could always save more but we strive for a balance between saving for the future and ENJOYING THE PRESENT.

4. Tithing

Ten years ago…

When our financial problems were at their worst, which wasn’t that bad compared to what lots of people go through, we made a commitment to tithe with the right attitude. Now some of you won’t agree with this decision but I can tell you that tithing has made a huge difference in our lives.


Although we weren’t perfect tithers in the past, we made a commitment to pay our full tithe, which is 10% of our income. Our tithe is paid twice a month automatically through our checking account.

5. Attitudes Towards Money

Ten years ago…

We wanted/needed everything back then. I think this is the trap that lots of people fall into. I think this is partly the reason we got into so much credit card debt.


It’s AWESOME to know that there are things we could just go out and buy IF we wanted to. It’s a MUCH different feeling knowing you can buy something but not buy it, than to buy something that you really can’t afford. Make sense?

Bottom line: my wife and I have made a lot of progress over the years but we still have a long way to go.

What about you? How are you different financially-speaking than you were ten years ago?

Here are links to the other contributions to this group project:

ConsumerisCommentary: Looking Back: The Difference 9 Years Makes
FiveCentNickel: Stepping Back in Time: Our Life Ten Years Ago
FreeMoneyFinance: My Finances Ten Years Ago and Now
Get Rich Slowly: Now and Then: How My Current Financial Situation Compares with a Decade Ago
Mighty Bargain Hunter: My Finances Ten Years Back
No Credit Needed: Looking Back: 10 Years Ago
Wise Bread: Money Management Lessons: Not Quite 10 Years to Life

14 thoughts on “Then & Now: What Our Finances Looked Like 10 Years Ago Compared to Now”

  1. This series from everyone is quite interesting. I guess I had not really expected you to be a No Credit Card person. With your analytical view of things such as the Chrysler gas deal I expected the same sort of view on cards.

    My ten years ago would not be that interesting as I was just finishing highschool, so nothing in particular good or bad.

  2. Philip,

    I have nothing against credit cards. It’s just that my wife and I don’t need them and I’m too lazy to chase after rewards programs.

  3. don’t you think if there was a god, he or she would rather you save the 10% for your retirement or family or college for your children than give it to a church?

  4. Compared to ten years ago, well, nothing much has changed. Still spend less than we make (even now, when I’m retired). Pay off our two credit cards each month. No car payments (actually, no payments at all, except for our mortgage). Spend a LOT more on grandchildren, now that we are fortunate to have them. When I actually was working for a living, I used to fill up my tank every week. Now, it’s every other month (that’s a welcome change, especially with gas prices where they are). Oh, and clothes, not that I was ever into fashion; my clothing and dry-cleaning expenses are down to next to zero.

    Retirement does have its advantages.



  5. We do the rewards gig all through a single card… 1% to (too many rules for other cards…)

    then once a month or so (or every other) we get a treat from that was extra…movies or stuff that would normally come out of a normal ‘budget’.

  6. The sad truth is my girlfriend and I are more like you were ten years ago then you are now. We are no where close to being where we need to. Hopefully 10 years from now we won’t be saying the same thing.

  7. Ok, after reading your response and thinking about it, it makes more sense. You still appear to be on track with making all the bigger decisions and letting the small things go a little more so. The total rewards on a credit card might be a couple hundred bucks a year compared with making sure to invest and save and other items that could be small.

    Oh, thanks for getting the posts going faster, that was kind of confusing.

  8. muddlehead said:

    “Don’t you think if there was a god, he or she would rather you save the 10% for your retirement or family or college for your children than give it to a church?”

    How is the work of the church to be supported?

    I hate debt!,

    I hear ya. You have to start from where you are. You’ll get there.

  9. “How is the work of the church to be supported?”

    The better question is; why should the church’s work be supported? The majority of churches and charities are like people, they exist, but don’t do much.

    I’m fine with giving to a church but tithing is another way for humans to control other humans. Giving every time you go, gives you control.

  10. Chad,

    If you don’t go to church or don’t tithe, fine. But, I don’t think you should question what is my choice.

    I tithe because I feel it is the right thing to do based on my belief in the Bible as God’s word. If you don’t believe that, that’s fine.

  11. We got married eight years ago, so it’s probably the best reference point for comparing.

    About five years ago, I got into PF blogs and started tracking my net worth. Fortunately, I was never a big “buy on debt” guy – and always paid cash for cars after a brief car loan on my first car – but wasn’t paying much attention to net worth building before I got married, and spent more money on fancy electronics than I probably needed.

    Also, one of my big expenses ten years ago was long-distance phone calls; I averaged $2-$300/month and sometimes got over $500/mon. The massive drop in long distance rates and universal calling plans helped hugely, as did getting married and having my wife move from China to here, where I can just chat with her instead of calling at $0.50/min (in 1998). I also spent way too much money and damaged my health by eating fast food pretty much every day, often more than once per day.

    In 1998, my net worth was probably around $150K. It’s now well in seven figures and growing by about $150K/year.

  12. In comment to JLP’s statement of being a tither, I have found that it works just like the Word of God says. I am on disability income versus having a job 10 years ago. I do not fail to pay my tithes, regardless of less income. I am not going hungry and my basics are being taken care of. Here is the kicker, when I was working and sporadically paying tithes, I stayed broke! Bills never seemed to get paid and were always high. I was taking out payday loans left-and-right to cover bills, and yet, bills never seem to get paid. Malachi chapter 3 lets you know that you are cursed when you don’t tithe. I realized that even sporadically paying tithes that I was still cursed. God counts faithfulness. Because of my disobedience, I am still recovering from it. However, I am confident that I will come out of my wilderness completely. That’s faith. Don’t try to figure it out, because you won’t be able to. Just start paying your tithes and you will began to come out of your financial holes. Be patient because it may take time, but it will happen

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