I keep seeing articles about how the economy is rebounding. It sure does seem like it is: home sales are rising, people are buying cars, more people are going out to eat and so on.
And I know this personally as well, lately we’ve been feeling the insane need to buy a house right now, but we just need to stop and breathe!
Prices and interest rates keep increasing, but I know that we can’t buy just to buy, especially since we currently have a home right now and don’t really have any real sudden need to buy right now. However, with everyone else in a buying frenzy, it is hard to not feel the rush.
Our lives definitely seem like they have gotten better in recent years. Most of that is probably due to our age, as we were entering college during the tough years which happened a couple of years ago and were leaving college as they said the economy was getting better.
This post is mostly to reflect on life and how much my life has changed in the past 4 or 5 years. I know 4 to 5 years isn’t a long time, and that I am still of course young and a baby in the personal finance blog world (especially since considering I was only 19 five years ago), but still so much has changed in these past 4 to 5 years. Even though things have changed a TON, surprisingly our budget is actually lower than what it used to be. Crazy right?
Of course there have been some bumps in the road, and I talk about some of them below, but for the most part, I am only looking up from here. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Being positive is something that I have really been working on, and thinking about all of the good things in life is something important to think about.
How my life has improved in the past few years (in no particular order):
1. Earned 2 undergraduate degrees and a Finance MBA.
I started undergrad in 2007 and graduated in 2010. Went back for my Finance MBA a little later (after a short break) and received my Finance MBA in August of 2012.
2. Have had a good job for the past 3 years.
I was able to find awesome and secure jobs and worked full-time throughout all of my degrees. My professional job was gained right after I graduated, so that means that I didn’t go without a job after graduation. I consider myself lucky with that, also thankful that St. Louis has a good job market.
3. Built up side hustles and worked on my budget.
I did a small amount of side hustles when I was working on my Finance MBA, but didn’t start to ramp up my side hustles until after I graduated from grad school. Working full-time, attending grad school and working on side hustles just wasn’t on my agenda, so I waited to work on side hustles until after I graduated.
We have increased our income and decreased our budget. This means a lot of money saving in our house. We used to spend a lot of money on food every month, and this is one of the reasons (okay, it’s the main reason) for why we racked up so much in student loans. I always feel ashamed to say how much we used to spend on food, but it was over $1,000. Hopefully you can’t guess from there… It was an insane amount and something that I am not proud with!
4. Student loans are almost gone.
I was dumb when I was in college. Made a lot of mistakes and withdrew a lot more in student loans that I actually needed. I paid hardly NOTHING when I was attending college, even though I worked full-time and could have. Instead I spent my money on going out to eat every single day. I spent ridiculous amounts of money on clothes too.
This is still something that I regret, but I have since come a full circle and am much better with my money. Luckily, I never racked up credit card debt, mainly because I was afraid of it. My only credit card for several years had a limit of $300, so it was pretty impossible for me to rack up debt.
5. Added two car loans.
I know, not the best thing on this list, but I still want to say how my life has changed and what is difference from a few years earlier. Back then, I had my other loan for a car that I bought brand new in 2008. Bought a Jeep in 2012 and traded in the 2008 car for a new Camaro. Definitely a sense of lifestyle inflation, but still well-enjoyed. Maybe we will regret this later like everyone says that we will, but I am enjoying life right now with them 🙂
6. I’ve become stronger.
A lot of emotional things have happened as well. My dad passed away 5 years ago, so this has been a world-wind past 5 years. However, I’ve grown much closer to my sister, and I really value that. Luckily, I also have W, great friends and W has a great family as well. W has been by my side for over 7 years now!
Has your life changed in the last 4 to 5 years?
If not, what are you doing to change it?
DC @ Young Adult Money says
Well, the past 4 years I have gotten married, traveled to Hawaii, Las Vegas, Jamaica, and went on a cruise that hit four countries (after BARELY travelling at all the previous 20 years of my life), graduated college, got my first full-time job after school in corporate finance, and bought a house. The past 4 years have been a serious whirlwind and I hope to keep working hard at my full-time job (and side hustles) to keep improving!
Sounds like a good 4 years! We have also amped up our traveling. I should have put that on the list!
Our life has changed a lot- we went from being a childless couple to a family of four! We’re also in a lot better financial shape.
Sounds great! 🙂
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
Our lives have changed a lot in the last 4 years. 4 years ago we were about to get married, Mr. PoP was winding doing some extensive travel (so making no money) and about to start a minimum wage job at a business we hoped to buy. The business didn’t work out, but the marriage has, and we’ve had a heck of a ride in the 4 years since then. =)
In the last 5 years, I got married and had a baby. Just literally got a promotion yesterday. So it has been a little busy. Financially we are much more steady because of my over-saving ways. Now we just need to update our bathroom from 1950s pink tile to something a little more modern.
Congrats on your promotion!
That is awesome 🙂
in the past 4 years I have left my job, lived in Morocco, gone on two 6 months motorcycle trips around Europe and the US, bought a house, sold a rental, and moved to Guatemala. Better off yes, and spending a lot more, but life is more comfortable.
Sounds like an awesome 4 years 🙂
I’d say a lot has changed in the past 5 years. Mainly we don’t fund our lives with credit cards we can’ t pay off!
Matt Becker says
I definitely understand the pressure of feeling like you have to buy a house now. My dad has actually talked to me about buying soon because of rising interest rates, but I have the same response as you. We’ll do it when it makes sense for us, not when it looks like prices and/or interest may rise soon. Making personal decisions because of macro trends is a road to trouble.
In the past 5 years I’ve gotten married, had a baby and have another one on the way. So yeah, it’s definitely been a lot of change. I think the next 5 years will be exciting too.
I’m excited for the next 5 years as well 🙂
Joe @ Stacking Benjamins says
My life is changing a ton this year because my kids are off to college! Cheryl and I joke that now we’ll run around naked….just to see the totally embarrassed and annoyed look on our kids faces…..
Hahahaha do it!
Wow, in 5 years I’ve gone from graduating with a degree in computer science to deciding to stay in school to get a Master’s and become a teacher. Two decisions that are both not the most financially best moves, yet were two best decisions of my life. Finished with year two of teaching and now am getting crazy aggressive on paying off those degrees.
Sounds like a lot of changes!
Grayson @ Debt Roundup says
Well, my life changed quite a bit in the last 4 years. I have paid off my credit card debt, kept an awesome job, started my blog, and had a baby (the biggest change). I think the last 4-5 years has been quite productive.
Definitely sounds productive to me.
Little House says
My life has changed quite a bit as well in 4 years – completed a teaching degree, started another one in special education (in progress), paid off debt (but then racked up a little bit last year – am now paying it off again!), snagged a decent teaching job this year, and continued to help my hubby build his business. It’s good to keep growing, learning, and accomplishing goals.
Sounds like an awesome 4 years.
It’s so funny you posted this. We moved two years ago and I was actually writing a posy on how different life is now too.
I am so glad you are in a good place, and have friends and a fiancé and sister to love and support you!
Ooooh excited to read your post 🙂
My life has changed a lot in the last 4-5 years. I had my oldest daughter 4 years ago, my youngest 3 years ago, and then got divorced last year. Life has definitely had its ups and downs but everything is working out and I feel like I am getting stronger each day.
I’m glad everything is working out and that you are getting stronger.
Done by Forty says
It’s good to take stock sometimes. It sounds like you’ve grown a lot in the last five years, and like Mr. Callahan said, you’re either growing or dying, there ain’t no third direction.
Thanks for sharing!
Almost exactly 4 years ago I met my husband (4 years and 4 days to be exact). In those 4 years I: quit grad school, moved to Ohio, got married, moved to Nebraska, and changed careers. If you would have told me 4 years ago that this is what my life would look like now I would have laughed in your face. I thought I had it all figured out! 😉 But I can definitely say that I am SO much happier than I was four years ago and am loving life!!!
Sounds like an exciting 4 years!
In the last 4 years I graduated with a worthless degree and $96,000 in student loan debt (includes $17,000 of interest). And the sad part is that I didn’t take out extra money for things I didn’t need. It paid for tuition, housing, books, and supplies. Since graduating, I’ve only worked one part-time minimum wage job that lasted 10 months. Have spent years unemployed. I’ve gotten married and moved to the east coast. I have more credit card debt than I did 5 years ago and we took out a car loan for a newer used car. Things aren’t really getting better for us. I don’t think we’ll ever own a home or have children considering how much student loan debt I have and my inability to find work. We live paycheck to paycheck and it will take us years to before we have an effectual emergency fund. But I started my blog 6 months ago and I’m working, slowly, on increasing my income and putting 100% of whatever I earn towards my debts.
I’m sorry. I really do hope that the next 5 years are better.
CeCe @Frugalista Married says
I could write a book on how much mine has changed! And it all started with meeting my amazing husband. Financially, I’ve gone through a few things but nothing major. I’ve always been ridiculously frugal and actually over the last few years I’ve been learning to allow myself to spend and enjoy it. I’ve improved with age. Sounds like you have too. You are in such a good position in life right now.
You’ve done so well! I am making less money than say 5 years ago – but happier, and still in a good financial place!
Kendal @HassleFreeSaver says
Awesome post, Michelle. Two undergrad degrees in 3 years? That’s amazing! I was 23 five years ago, just graduating college and accepting a full-time offer from the job I worked during high school and college. My husband and I were carpooling to work and paying off that vehicle and my student loans. It was a good time in my life but I’ll admit I’m happier now at my new job. I have my own car that I also feel is worth the car payment, and my interests have expanded. Always good to focus on the positive!
Thanks. And haha yes 2! That’s good that you are happier now 🙂
Sounds like you’ve had a great few years. Everyone has ups and downs but it seems like you’ve done a good job taking them head on. Not as long as you, but my last 2 years have been crazy. I moved out on my own, got a good paying job, got married, got a dog and most importantly, learned to enjoy life more and to let things go. I’ve had my share of ups and downs, as I am sure I will still have for years to come, but I am confident in that things will be alright. Maybe not right away, but in the longrun we’ll all be just fine.
I agree, everything will be fine 🙂
Yes, it definitely is crazy!
Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries says
Haha, 5 years ago I had just finished high school. I guess you could say my life has improved over the years. I’ve been with Leslie for most of it (about 4 and a half) and have become more independent. I definitely make more, but I also have more bills so it evens out a bit. Though, when I first moved out there were a lot of days where all Leslie and I would eat for the week were peanut butter sandwiches because that’s all we could afford for the week. Probably why we love to go out to eat so much now. I’m so much more excited to see what happens in the next 5 years! We’ll be getting out of debt, quitting our day-jobs, and probably getting out of our studio apartment. Did I mention getting out of debt?
Sounds like you’ve had a very productive last couple years. Lots of growing up done and establishing yourself in the adult world. What do you see your life like in the next 5?
The exact opposite happened to us – we ate out too much and now we can’t stand it!
Sean @ One Smart Dollar says
We are definately making more money, but our expenses are higher. We break even on our condo in Chicago AFTER taxes so once we can sell that our monthly expenses will go down by a nice amount.
My spending went down because I had furlough days in the last 3 years. IN contrast, I have earned extra money for the last 3 years. My spending has not changed much at all.
That’s awesome that your extra money has increased 🙂
Real Estate: I think there is a lot of hype right now. Inventory is low. Why ? Because there are still a lot of folks who are upside down on their loans and can’t sell yet. Plus, I think the banks are sitting on “shadow inventory”.
You are in a great place to withstand future mishaps. You have savings and live below your means. Plus, you believe that you can change your situation.
You are very right! Thanks Christie.
Nick @ ayoungpro.com says
You are doing great Michelle! We have made a lot of progress in the last 5 years. We are debt free, we paid for fertility testing, surgies, and in-vitro fertilization. We paid for and adoption. We bought a house. I graduated from college. Really I could go on and on. The last 5 years have been crazy!
Sounds like so much has happened to you! 🙂
Savvy Scot says
You are on a very, very solid path! Buying a house is definitely not an impulse decision!
My life has changed immensely over the last 5 years too:
Graduated, moved to London, got married, bought a house, got a real job, grew my side hustles and now… WE ARE GETTING A PUPPY!!! 😀
Thank you 🙂 And woohooo on the puppy!
Tina @ My Shiny Pennies says
I’m definitely better off now since I was still in law school 5 years ago. I was living like a poor person in order to keep my student loans low. I’ve been at my job for 3.5 years and I’m finally starting to feel like an expert in my field. I bought a house, and I also met B and we’re getting married soon so yeah, I’d say lots of changes and thankfully they’re mostly for the better. 🙂
WOOHOO lots of good things! 🙂
Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans says
Hey Michelle, great post! Looks like we’re the same age! 🙂
Over these past 4-5 years, I too graduated college in 2010 (started in 2007), started my career as an administrative assistant, got promoted to financial analyst, started choreographing on the side for extra income, as well as bought a house and car!
These past few years have definitely gone by fast!
Wow we sound very similar! The only difference is that I wasn’t an assistant and I suck at dancing haha
I’ve had babies, so my spending has inevitably gone up. 🙂 I also took some time off work to go to school, so my income has gone down. (But paying for daycare would have put me even deeper in the hole with the job I had.) Silver lining! Just graduated, so the next 4 years are looking better! And just because my finances have been a little bit difficult doesn’t mean my life hasn’t been awesome: I wouldn’t trade the past few years for anything!
WOOHOOO! Here’s to an awesome next 4 years.
Jason B says
In the past 5 years I have graduated from college, hit rock bottom and moved 4 times in about 2 yrs. During that time I have realized that I can make a way out of anything. I have matured over the years and also started my own website after years of procrastination.
Sounds like you are doing well now 🙂
The last 5 years, I have been a roller coaster. I have lived in three different cities and two different states, got married, traveled abroad twice and got into $25000 deep debt which I have made a vow to shred like nobody’s business.
Shred that debt!
William @ Bite the Bullet says
About that buy a house itch: it’s a bad time. Here’s a post showing how the math works, and when the best time is to trade houses:
Great post! And yeah, I realize it’s a bad time, but we’ve had this in our plans for awhile now. If we wait and interest rates continue to go up, wouldn’t that hurt us more? Maybe I’m wrong though, I don’t know! 🙂
Brian @ Luke1428 says
Our biggest deal in the past 4-5 years is that my wife quit her job teaching math. She took a new job at an accounting firm and went back to school to become a CPA. After a long haul, she will finish that up this summer and then work on completing her MBA by the end of the year. For her to pursue her dream, I’ve taken over the household responsibilities related to general upkeep and the kids. It’s been a tough few years of many late night study sessions but the end is near.
Glad the end is near 🙂
I graduated from college and moved thirteen hours away from home for a new job. I can’t think of anything that could be a bigger change than that!
That’s definitely a big change!
The First Million is the Hardest says
Not all that much has changed for me in the last 3-4 years. I make more money, bought a house and am generally better off than a few years back but it really doesn’t feel like I’m living much different of a life.
Interesting! I feel like I’m very different, but I was also only 19 before.
John @ Fearless Men says
Wow! You really got a lot done. In the last 5 years I finished my Army service and went straight into the corporate world. I bought a house and started Fearless Men with my good friend. We also now have All Things Finance. Like you, I took on a brand new car, and since I plan to keep it until it dies I saw it as a good investment.
Sounds like a good 5 years 🙂
You’ve certainly done well and a Finance MBA should stand you in good stead in the jobs market. By all means buy a house but don’t be swayed by what others are doing. The one thing you can’t do with a house is to move it so it is all location. Buy a house that you can be pretty sure of selling, is in a cul-de-sac, not the most expensive in the street and the one with character. Don’t buy one just for the sake of it. Good luck in your quest.
Thanks John! We already have a house, we’re actually looking to trade up 🙂
Budget and the Beach says
You seriously have achieved so much at a young age…you really have no idea! My 4-5 years have been more of a struggle (although friendship/recreation/health wise I’ve been incredibly lucky and happy). Most of mine is because of my layoff and subsequent struggles as a freelancer. And my dating life has been pretty much nonexistent, but that’s more my fault. 🙂 It’s hard to possibly explain how one area of your life is great, but another area not so great. But after my visit with my friends in Detroit, I’m realizing that late 30’s-early 40’s a WHOLE LOT changes and you will be surprised at what you thought you knew now will be different then..
I hope the other area of your life starts getting better 🙂
The last 4 years have been crazy. We made friends finally. And happily still have them. 🙂 I started a blog, an ad business, went self-employed, and then got my husband to join me. We’ve paid off one house and bought another. Our bills have doubled but our income has nearly tripled and we have a rental property for our future. I lost 30 pounds, gained back 23, and am now down 11 of that again. Oh, and I turned 30 about 6 months ago and am not freaking out about it yet. All together, cool beans. 🙂
Sounds like a lot of awesome stuff Crystal! 🙂
Haha sounds like a lot!
I’m actually spending less then before, but that’s mainly because I reevaluated my spending habits and am focusing on paying off debt and saving for retirement. That was a big change for me, from going from a consumer to a saver, but I think it’s well worth it to be able to have more financial freedom in the long run.
Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility says
Sounds like you’ve accomplished some amazing things and survived some difficult stuff. It’s amazing to look back sometimes and see where we came from.
In the last five years, I increased my income almost twice over, met and married my partner in crime (and life), and got a lot smarter about a lot of things. I lost my dad four years ago as well but have grown closer to other family as well.
Cheers to your success. 🙂
Dennis at Cool Top Tens says
We finally paid off our mortgage after four years dedicated to clearing that financial hurdle. Since then I have noticed a definitely increase in our discretionary spending. Probably a natural reaction to suddenly having so much more free money after years with a mortgage. We’ll have to work on reining that in and start funneling that extra money towards retirement savings now.
Reba I. Meadows says
What will change the world over the next 20 years? And if you think you know, are you willing to put money on it?