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reflecting on the past

February 7th, 2023 at 07:53 pm

On the post your wins thread it was a nice post by amastewa93 about how far she's come in 6 years!  I'm really impressed.  So I thought a lot as well and it's amazing how fast things can change on a dime.

I'm the mom of a teenager as of last month (DK1 turned 13!!!).  When I started blogging and I on this site I had no children.  I had been with my DH about 6 years and we were married a couple of years.  Those first few years were very, very lean.  We leaned on 0% CC, student loans, car loans, etc to make everything happen.  We rarely ate out or traveled.  I will also say the first few years  of having kids and going to one income it was super tight as well.  We were still paying off the 0% CC which was used to help buy us time to pay our student loans.  

But a decade has past and it's weird how comfortable we are.  Rich?  I guess by many standards but I don't feel it.  I don't feel that different than the young 20 something struggling to make ends meet.  But 20 years later I am.  My body is more tired and older.  The credit card now is paid in full and I don't blink at whipping it out. Instead of whipping out the calculator and figuring if I could afford something, now I pay for it and don't worry knowing we have buffer. 

I would use a calculator at a grocery store to stay on track.  We ate a lot of the same foods over and over.  When we met our "date" nights quickly devolved into a 3 item combo from Ranch 99 shared and a movie once a week.  I don't even know if DH remembers the fact we were so thrilled to not cook and eat leftovers once a week and a $5 - 3 item combo was a splurge.  $5 for a meal out was indulgent and to be shared.  We rarely drank because it wasn't in the budget.  Soda was bought only in 2L bottles and we recycled everything for extra money.  We dumpster dived everything and everything was second hand including our grill and smoker and dog.  

When we got our first dog we had no money and thankfully he was young and healthy.  By the time he needed care we were in a different position financially but in 2002 we were broke and living on a shoe string.  We used student loans to help sort our budget after all it was subsidized and free money.  We calculated DH would get a job in 6 months after graduating and we'd be able to pay it all back.  It didn't happen when he first graduated, we needed 0% CC for a few years rolling from one to another.  But by the time DK1 came along in 1/2010, in 6/2010 we paid off all our student loans and 0% CC.  It only took us 5 years after he finished his phd but he also went back and got an MBA and sunk us more into debt during those 5 years.

Our kids know we're frugal and they can tell I still struggle with spending.  I'm still careful.  My mom says "we never bought anything without a red sale tag or secondhand."  I grew up very, very poor.   And now it's ridiculous.  My kids still look at sale tags because I don't know how else to shop and goodwill/marketplace is still our friend.

But now I really can buy anything I want. I can walk into a store and not whip out the calculator. I can buy what I want to eat because I feel like it.  I can go out to eat because we want to.  It's a weird feeling sometimes.  The life I lead now is one I definitely aspired too.  My mom again always said "i want to walk into a store one day and not look at the price tag."  And she totally does now.  She doesn't care.  Everything is affordable.  Now the shirt doesn't have to be on sale or secondhand.  She also grocery shops and buys what she wants to eat instead of what's on sale.  She doesn't have the envelope of cash and calculator (my entire family used to do this).  My uncle said he'd stand in grocery store and calculate down to the last 10 cents what they could afford for groceries for the week and what they'd put back.  And now he has so much money coming in he can't spend it fast enough.  

Did you ever think you'd get here?  Did you ever think you'd live a life you dream about?  I joke now about what I would do if I won the lotto.  I'd hire a cook and a driver asap.  But life is pretty good and I'm grateful that I'm another year older and here to spend it with my family.

4 Responses to “reflecting on the past”

  1. Lots of Ideas Says:

    My parents worked very hard and although we were never hungry, we always had eggs for dinner on Thursday nights - it was a cheap meal. My mother especially pieced together a number of part time jobs that augmented her full time salary. She taught us that if you wanted something, you could find a way to earn it. My dad too was a very hard worker.

    Their example served my brother and I well.
    We were both able to get our educations without debt although with a lot of sacrifice and hard work (which is not possible anymore, IMO)
    We made good career and life choices, and had a lot of luck.

    Part of the joy of my life is that especially for my mother, we were able to set her up so that she never had to think about money.
    My dad too is comfortable in this part of his life.

    My brother and I share a love of sports and sometimes we attend a special event that causes me to look at him and say ‘did you ever think that two little kids like us would end up here?’

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    Well, your post here is very much in tune with how I'm feeling (see my post).

    After so many years of carefully planning, setting financial goals, pinching pennies, monitoring my net worth, my expenses, my investments, long work hours and so on and so on, I feel I can start reaping the benefits of all that hard work. And I am so grateful to be in this position.

  3. Dido Says:

    It IS amazing to look back. You inspired me to look back at my records, which I began keeping at the same time I began blogging on this site, in 2006. The first 6 years (to the end of 2012), my net worth pretty much doubled, but that was in large part due to my mother's passing and leaving me about 200k. That was enough, however, to feel more confidence in making a career shift, which I did in 2009. Earning a decent income at the new career took a while--I had 5 years of part-time/temp work where my income took a nose-dive (including one year, 2014, where I was unemployed more than half the year with a very ill cat, where my debt really increased). But I'm earning a decent living now, and my net worth has again pretty much doubled from the end of 2012 to now. I'm not feeling ready to retire yet (still have some debt to pay off, plus, I enjoy working), but I don't worry a lot about what I spend. My big extravagance is buying books, and I do eat out about 3x a week, but most of those meals are about $15 or less. I feel grateful not to have to worry about micro-managing my expenses. I DID do that when I started out here, but I haven't in quite a while now. Like Patient Saver and you, I'm grateful to be where I am.

  4. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    It really is crazy how time has flown and life has changed

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