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Are You Better Off Now Than You Were This Time Last Year?

December 5th, 2009 at 02:20 pm

Are you better off now, financially speaking, than you were this time last year?

I pondered that question while I was answering a survey from the investment management firm that oversees a good chunk of my investable assets. It caused me to stop and think a while, because the answer was not clear-cut.


Speaking strictly in terms of investments, the rising stock market has buoyed my portfolio by 27% in just a year's time. (But what the stock market giveth, the stock market can easily take away.)

Earning Power

It's hard to overlook, however, the obvious elephant in the room; my present state of joblessness means I am most certainly worse off than I was this time last year.


Here's one more angle to look at: the balance on my only debt (my mortgage) has shrunk by about $9,000 in a year's time, helped along by sizable prepayments of principal until my layoff in September.

How do you measure your financial progress and where do you think you stand?

10 Responses to “Are You Better Off Now Than You Were This Time Last Year? ”

  1. Lady T Says:

    I think I am better off financially than I was at this time last year. I am still working to pay off my debt, so I have not increased my savings at all, but I have still added to my 401(k) and that's something. At the same time as I have been working at paying off my debt, I have not added to it by using a credit card so I have made significant progress. Stats below:

    Debt on 01/31/08: $13,456.35
    Debt on 12/31/08: $11,347.44 (15.67% repaid)
    Debt on 11/30/09: $7,951.09 (40.91% repaid)

    I still have a long way to go, but I have to look at the big picture ... I've paid off 40% of my debt!! YAY!!!!

  2. Ima saver Says:

    No, I am not better off. When my husband was working steady, I added to my savings every month without fail. Now, I have a hard time saving anything beyond the $20 challenge. Also, I was earning over $20,000 interest on my savings. Now, with rates so low, I am earning a lot less. Plus my dh is working a lot less.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    This is a great idea. I think I'll try to do a post like this near the end of the year.

    Looks like you're doing amazingly well considering the current economy.

  4. monkeymama Says:

    I measure my net worth to guage financial progress.

    We've been stagnant for about 2 years. Last year the market sucked. This year, we have made a killing in the market, and took the opportunity to buy very low. BUT, this year our real estate value has gone down (lost $35k), leaving us where we were in 2007 or 2006.

    Cash interest sucks, real estate sucks, etc., etc. I suppose it's nice the market is up this year.

    For the first time in a decade, I don't count on a raise - I suppose that is important too.

  5. Analise Says:

    Like ceejay, I'm going to do an update to my net worth page in a month or so. But I am pretty sure we are better off: Mortgage(s) paid down a little, added to savings from income (pension) and part-time work, and the investments tied to stock market are higher last time I checked.

    You should be proud of what you've accomplished, fern, despite the "lemons" you were handed in the fall. I fervently hope 2010 brings you the perfect job. You deserve it!

  6. frugaltexan75 Says:

    In a word, no. But if I hadn't been in the financial place I was at this time last year (no debt, fully funded EF plus a good amount of other savings) and been able to majorly downsize on expenses, I would be a lot worse off.

    This time next year I will more than likely be much less financially well. But ... by Christmas 2011 if my Master's means anything in getting a good paying job .. I may be on the path to being much better off than 2008.

  7. disneysteve Says:

    Absolutely. Our investments have recovered nicely. We've continued to save, even increasing the amount we save from 20% to 21% of my gross income. We've chipped away at our mortgage with an extra $1,400 in principal payments. I got back on ebay and averaged somewhere around $70/month (don't know the final figure yet).

  8. shiela Says:

    Yes. Both our shares and real estate has gone up this year. So much better than last year.
    I think you are doing well considering the job loss.

  9. Apprentice Bliss Hunter Says:

    Yes better off.

    Net worth come up from minus 200 to 10,000 roughly in the last year.

    I am cash poor but I'll paying high monthly debt repayments to be debt-free in March 2010. My shares in my Company stock scheme are doing well and my retirement investment, small as it is, is doing well at the moment too.

  10. Broken Arrow Says:

    Another great post!

    This is the reason why I keep track of net worth. It does get discouraging when it slips or I know why it's not advancing as it should. But gauging net worth is a basic way to make sure that I am indeed making progress.

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