By: Revanche

Taking the 10-year perspective

January 31, 2018

A ten year perspective Shutterfly has this feature where they randomly email you “look what you were doing 3 or 5 or 12 years ago!” Sometimes they pick moments like JB’s birth, sometimes they pick a barely memorable random date from our first year together.

It makes me smile sometimes to see how much we’ve changed. You can’t see it in pictures alone (except for the hair – I used to have much better hair and my eyebrows were excellent) but I remember who we were back then.

Our Relationship

I’m so glad that PiC wasn’t as cool as I thought he was. (He laughed at the very thought.) We are both huge dorks, that what makes us fit. We’ve made lots of good memories, and had plenty of downs to go with the ups, but we also appreciate each other more deeply now.

Admittedly we have gone to having just about zero time for each other, solely each other, these days and that’s not good. But we don’t resent it, it’s a result of our choices and we’re still prioritizing each other in the daily choices we make. We’ll make some changes this year, like hiring a sitter on occasion, but I’m not going to worry about it. As long as we keep looking out for each other, we can’t go too far wrong.

I’m glad that even as I was learning some really bad habits like not trusting adults, I took the chance on our relationship and kept working at it. There were lots of times that I could have, and nearly did, bailed out to save myself the pain of learning to live with someone, or the risk that he would be human and disappoint me someday in the way that my birth family did. My thinking got really skewed in those tougher years.

Luckily, I had good instincts (and high standards) at the outset so it wasn’t the same as dating someone sketchy, PiC is a great guy, but there are plenty of great people out there who would be terrible matches for me and vice versa so both luck and risk played parts here.

Our Money

Ten years ago it was definitely still MY money, not our money. We didn’t combine until further on. I also remember how it felt like all I could take were tiny steps forward. I could save bit by bit, and it was torturous. I’ve never been able to max out a 401(k), nor an IRA until these past few years when I only had the IRA and no 401(k) *sob*, so the amount invested over these ten years has been modest. Paltry, even! If you’d looked at any single point of the chart, especially between 2008 and 2010 when it went into the negatives, you wouldn’t have predicted that it would pull out of the death spiral.

Last year, I took a look at ten years of our net worth and that was a definite eye-opener so when I started getting the blues about not investing enough in the past several years.

My investing chart at Vanguard starts from January 1, 2008. Around that time I had rolled over my very first 401(k) from my original investing company, to WAMU, then out of WAMU when they were gone. In all these years, I’ve socked away $84,251.80. That’s truly very little when you figure that for at least 3 of those years, I had the pre-tax investing room to invest up to $17,000 but couldn’t manage that and pay the bills, and some of that money was a company match.

None of my investing was brilliant. I grabbed five funds that seemed to collectively make up a wide spread of the world and country’s funds. It seemed like a good enough strategy at the time and it looks like that was actually … Good enough!

Despite all that I didn’t manage to save, the change is incredible. My investment returns in that single account since then: $73,084.11.

Would you believe that?

Related – I happened across Jonathon’s post on if you’d invested $10,000 for the past ten years as I was pulling these numbers and it’s interesting that I’m not as far behind as I expected to be.

I know ten years isn’t a very long timeline but it’s helpful to know that making imperfect decisions even in a bear market doesn’t spell the end of the world. Mind, I take it all with a grain of salt since we’ve been riding on a bull market ever since.

The takeaway

Even if I didn’t have all the facts, even when I couldn’t have all the facts, on whether a decision was a good one, I took risks with love and money that ended up working well because I knew they were (calculated) risks and not trying was worse. The answer would never have come to light if I was too afraid to give it a try. Nothing blossomed overnight, all of it took time, and a whole lot of it!

Patience is a virtue but only after you bite the bullet and get started.

Hm. I may have just pep talked myself into doing the work on some projects that I’ve been discouraged about.

:: What has come to fruition for you? What do you hope to see blossom in the near future?

22 Responses to “Taking the 10-year perspective”

  1. I feel like every day we make a bunch of little choices and eventually, without us realizing it, it all adds up to our life. It sounds like you’ve made some really great choices in your partner, with your hard work, and reorienting your relationship with your family. I’m glad that over time it seems to be paying off. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted…Financial Update โ€“ January 2018My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It definitely wasn’t clear if all my choices would add up to the right picture back then, and I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but this particular ten year period looks good.

  2. Joe says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m writing about this too and I’m having a hard time with it.
    We all do the best we can with what we got. Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve done extremely well compare to the rest of the country. Your husband and kid are awesome too. I’m sure the next 10 years will be a ton better.

    • Revanche says:

      What are you struggling with? I realized after writing that if I were to take 2000-2010 as my ten year chunk, rather than 2007-2017, my conclusions would have been very different! The perspective changes a whole lot as we go along. I’m hoping that our next ten is even better.

  3. I like this perspective and I think I’m shifting to a longer time horizon the older I get. We have hit 5 years in our house and while we have not done as much as we would have liked on the mortgage we are so far away from what we started at. And it should be celebrated! Congrats on your achievements bull market or not!

    • Revanche says:

      It’s logical to me that as we age, we’re able to take longer perspectives. We have more years to work with!

      Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. GYM says:

    So much happens in 10 years, so much can happen in 1 year. 10 years ago I was naive and I think pretty selfish still (I think I was clubbing and doing 20-something stuff, like spending money frivolously). It’s so hard to find time to spend just as a couple once kids come! Although we are supportive of making sure we each get alone time, it’s hard to get ‘us’ time. That’s great that you are making changes and hiring a sitter.

    Best wishes for the next 10 years!!

    • Revanche says:

      Lots of details are lost in the ten year view, I have to admit!

      It’d also be an interesting exercise to compare ten year spans that contained decades (teens, 20s, 30s) to ten year spans that were half of two decades.

  5. Jeannie says:

    10 years, wow. I was still a starry eyed college freshman who want to get into Med school. Not exactly where 18yo me thought I’d be today. Definitely not doing what I thought I’d be doing or living where I thought I’d be living.
    Until reading this, I don’t think I realized how much I try not to think about younger me. Can’t help feeling like I have failed her somehow even though my current life is pretty good.

    • Revanche says:

      Do you feel like you failed Younger You because you took a different path or because you didn’t pursue the dreams you thought you had at 18?

      It’s tough expecting 18 year olds to know what to do with their entire lives. That’s a lot of years to have mostly imagination fill.

  6. Kris says:

    Oh man, 10 years ago I wasn’t even thinking about investing let alone saving. I did have a 401K account but was contributing around 5%. All cared about was finding the next place to travel and didn’t care how much credit card debt I was in.
    We were married for almost five years before we had our baby. And that was on purpose because we knew that we wanted to travel to many places as we can as a couple before we wanted a kid. We figured that when our baby arrived, we wouldn’t have a lot of time alone as as couple let alone traveling. We’re pretty satisfied with the places we traveled as a couple and ready for family trips for the next 10-20 years.

    • Revanche says:

      Where did you choose to travel in your pre-baby years? I do slightly regret that we didn’t take a few more trips before JB came along but our money wasn’t as stable back then. Or I wasn’t as confident.

      • Kris says:

        We did a couple of family cruises to Alaska and traveled to the Southwest for camping and hiking. Very scenic down there with all the national parks and open land. We are coming back down there(mainly Southern Utah and Arizona) when our baby starts grade school.

        • Revanche says:

          That sounds lovely. Would you say that the family cruise to Alaska was kid friendly? I’d briefly considered it but wasn’t sure if it would work with small kids.

          • Kris says:

            It’s definitely kid friendly. They have lots of activities for kids and have lots of areas around the cruise ship dedicated for kids only. For the on shore excursions in Alaska, you can bring kids to whale watch, sightseeing in the rainforest and hiking to the Glaciers which we did. So their are a lot of options for the kids on and off the cruise ship.

  7. Itโ€™s amazing how fast those ten years go by as well. Theyโ€™re going to happen whether you invest or not, so you may as well just get started and just do the best you can each step of the way.
    Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early recently posted…Letter To My Fifteen Year Old Self: Financial Mistakes To AvoidMy Profile

  8. NZ Muse says:

    I haven’t been tracking NW for 10 years but I am planning a a 10year income review which should be interesting!

    NW has probably gone up $110k … which would average out to $10k a year? Definitely has not been smooth though, very lumpy.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Blogging helped me shape the life I wanted, but I rarely blog anymore (a guest post)My Profile

  9. SP says:

    Yes, finances are a striking way to quantitatively see how much has changed in 10 years, but thinking about the nuances of life… it is a different world and I’m a different person. And I’m so often grateful for younger me for working hard and making the best choices she could, and I’m glad she worried about future her (i.e. ME now).
    SP recently posted…2018 Goals and PlansMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I couldn’t even begin to, outside of our relationship, summarize the changes to the world and myself in a concise enough way for this post but you’re absolutely right. So much of our earlier work has paid off and I’m hoping to see my way to doing the same for our future selves, again.

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