My personal finance journey – moving to Alabama in 2004

My personal finance journey in 2004 included a physical move from Michigan to Alabama as my company decided to relocate there. Not everyone went; I think the majority refused and looked for other jobs. It wasn’t a very hard decision for me really; my family lives in the UK so I had no particular ties to Michigan, the relocation package helped with expenses and I would be receiving the same salary in a state where taxes were lower. Throw in warm winters, no snow, and I was on my way.

2004 year summary

Average Living Expense $ 2,378
Security Ratio % 0
Retirement % 0
Savings % 30
Expenses % 38
Wet Worth $ -142,943

This year wasn’t any real improvement over last year as far as spending went, although I did manage to save more of my income. Which looks better than it actually was since almost all of my savings went into buying a new car and my first house. I had no plan for 32% of my income, some of it I spent and some of it just sat depreciating in my checking account.

As a result of my move, I did open a new checking and a new savings account in Alabama so I could deposit checks since my original bank didn’t have any branches in the area.

My personal finance journey in 2004

If it looks like I fell off the fiscal cliff this year, I didn’t. But I did buy a house, I’m just not including its value in the total. Likewise for any assets I owned such as my car etc. I prefer to look at the underlying truth since the asset value is quite speculative.

In general though you can see there’s an upward trend to the chart; that’s because I typically spent less than I earned. But I wasn’t doing anything with the excess money, nor did I have any kind of plan; I was just living month to month.

About the year in 100 words

January: NASA’s rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” landed on Mars after a 6 month journey. March: The first ever hurricane in the South Atlantic hit Brazil. May: The EU added 10 new countries, its largest expansion. June: Former President Ronald Reagan died after a long fight against Alzheimer’s. July: Groundbreaking for the Freedom Tower started in NYC. August: Edvard Munch’s, The Scream, was stolen. October: A team of explorers reached the bottom of the world’s deepest cave, Krubera Cave, 2000m underground. November: George Bush became the new US President. NASA’s scramjet became the world’s fastest jet, reaching Mach 9.6. December: The Millau bridge, France, became the world’s tallest. The strongest earthquake in over 40 years hit Southeast Asia; the resulting tsunami killed nearly 190,000 people.

Business news from 2004

Interest rates increased from previous historic lows of 1% to about 2 1/4%. The US economy grew at 4.4 %, its highest increase in 5 years. The S&P grew about 9%, the Dow Jones grew 3.5% and the Nasdaq gained 8%.

There were several large mergers this year – the following four totaled $100B: Cingular/AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, Oracle/PeopleSoft and Symantec/Veritas. Kmart announced its intent to merge with Sears.

Google held its IPO on August 19, offering 19,605,052 shares at $85 per share and a market capitalization of $23B. Facebook was also created this year in February.

Largest companies in 2004

Here are the ten largest companies in 2004 by market cap.

Rank Change Company Ticker Market Cap ($B)
1 +1 General Electric GE 299 (+15%)
2 -1 Microsoft MSFT 271 (+3%)
3 Exxon Mobil XOM 263 (+9%)
4 +1 Pfizer  PFE 261 (+34%)
5 +1 Citigroup C 259 (+42%)
6 -2 Wal-Mart WMT 258 (+10%)
7 NEW Amertican International Group AIG 183
8 NEW Intel Corporation INTL 179
9 British Petroleum BP 174 (+21%)

JNJ, Royal Dutch Shell and IBM lost their places in the list, replaced by newcomers AIG, Intel and HSBC. GE took back the number one spot from Microsoft.


Quote of the day

Security depends not so much upon how much you have, as upon how much you can do without.

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