The past June is an important milestone for me: by end of June, I have been using Microsoft Money consecutively for three years. During the period, I upgraded from Microsoft Money 2002 to 2006 (yes, I'm testing the new version now), my Money file has grown to 30 megabytes, and the 7,500+ transactions in the file captured the ins and outs of my financials throughout the 1,000+ days, part of which are shared at PFBlog.
At this reflection point, I'm taking a look at five charts that best summarized the 3 years.
Chart 1: Net Worth Growth
In three years, our household net worth improved from just above $47,000 to $231,000 at last tally. Except for two separate occasions, our net worth just keeps going up every month. Overall, good story.
Chart 2: Monthly Net Worth Increase
This chart shows the monthly net worth changes over the three years. Under this microscope, our personal finance story is actually a choppy ride. Besides abnormal events like home buying (August 2003) and car purchase (October 2002, June 2004 and May 2005), stock market causes significant swings from month to month. Especially, MSFT stock changes are often behind some of the particularly strong or weak months. (But again, MSFT today barely moved from where it was three years ago.)
Chart 3: Monthly Savings
To remove the noise of stock market on monthly numbers, Chart 3 shows the monthly savings, defined as gross income minus expenses and taxes. Judging from the moving average line, my savings literally dried up in late 2003 and early 2004, but picked up significantly after July 2004, when my wife returned to the labor force. (Recent strength was also helped by PFBlog ad revenue.)
Chart 4: Monthly Gross Income
Now let's examine the income individually. Income shown in this chart includes our job income, interests, and website income, but does not include capital gains/losses in brokerage, ESPP and stock option accounts. The anual bonus in August and September caused most of the spikes; others are some one-off bonuses I claimed. For the same reasons discussed above, the past 12 months had been really kind to us.
Chart 5: Monthly Expense
Now comes the expense part of the equation. Aside from the home buying in August 2003, and BMW purchase in March 2005, the spending is steady, but heading in the not-so-good direction lately, which negates most of the income increases we managed to get to.
So, what will I do with all the data? Actually, I will use it to reflect and restate the goals for my journey. Keep tuned.
(P.S. Thank you for Ye's analysis on my charts and the amusing post of How Not to Become a Millionaire. Take a look!)