★ What Was Your Money Epiphany?

The first time my wife and I did a monthly budget, I was shocked by what I saw. I had guessed that we spent $100 eating out the month before. I was wrong. Way wrong. We had spent $450!! Okay budget, you have my full attention now, teach me your wise ways. This was our money epiphany. At first, I was angry that we were so foolish and wasteful. But then I got excited when I realized how easily we could turn things around and start making big progress. I've been doing a budget and tracking our spending and our net worth every month since. (None of which my wife or myself had ever done before.) It was a total game changer.

Your Money Epiphany

It's amazing to hear the stories of how people first started paying attention to their money. There's always a light bulb moment. Some event in a person's life that grabs their attention. Most the time it's because of a close call or even a financial disaster, but whatever it takes to get your attention is ultimately good. One interesting thing about these money epiphanies is that they are also always different. That's why it's called personal finance. No two situations are the same. We've collected a few money epiphanies from our forums and present them to you here with the hopes they will inspire you to pay even more attention to your money. Take a look, and then share your own!

Mine was remembering when more money was going out than coming in! I started to read some books on finance and then started to sell stuff, refinanced my Jeep three times to get my payments to a manageable level where I could pay them down. - Steve Goodwin, My Family on a Budget

We spent 15K on a desperately needed re-wiring of our small 100-year-old house that we love. This included adventures in expensive light fixtures, dimmer switches and new fans. It was almost our entire cash savings. During the project, my husband sent me a Forbes article on Mr. Money Mustache which led me to Frugalwoods which led me to Budgets Are Sexy... The same week I was on Personal Capital and immediately put a halt on all spending in our household. Turns out, I was the one doing all the saving and spending. We started doing challenges like eating everything in the freezer and cupboards. - Jillena

I realized that I did not have to wait until 65 to retire just because everyone did - nothing magical happens at that age, it's all just money. I started tracking all my expenses (first by using pen and paper for thirty days! I recommend it!) and rejoiced at every dollar I could throw at my future million! - myr_heille

My epiphany was back in August 2014. I crashed my car and had to buy a new one. My insurance did not cover the loss so my savings was instantly drained. This is when I just knew I had to do something about it and started searching the internet and founded blogs like The Minimalists, Rockstar Finance, Mr. Money Mustache and the likes. The concept of financial independence really pulled me and started working on my new goal. This is to be financially independent by age 40. Not that I will likely quit my job when I turn 40, but just have the feeling of freedom that losing my job would not matter one bit. - Holland4FI

Mine came at a young age. Shortly after high school I was working part-time jobs and taking classes at a community college. One month my girlfriend (now my wife) said we were going to be short for the month on rent/food. This was back in the day before cell phones and we drove old clunker cars so our expenses were very low. So to make ends meet for that month (we had no credit which is a blessing!) we had to donate plasma. While donating plasma, I was sitting between two rival gang members who were exchanging pleasantries. I didn't ever want to do that again. - Joe_5700

Seeing over 5K paid in interest for one year on my student loans was the major kick in the ass I needed to get my act together! - ApathyEnds

I freaked out a little when I got married and realized that my husband had consumer debt, which I had never had... However, I had twice as much in school loans, which I thought were 'good debt.' Ugh. - ChooseBetterLife

Sallie Mae asked for her money back on my wife's student loans. We were already paying about $300 a month in student loans, on top of a car loan, a couple of credit cards, and a personal loan. When Sallie wanted another $600 every month on top of all that and just laughed at us when we tried to negotiate, we knew something had to change. - Kyle

When I couldn't find a full-time job and felt forced to move from NYC. Then when I found myself on food stamps in Portland to get by. I knew I never wanted to be in that position EVER AGAIN. Debt was ruling my life and making all the decisions for me. I decided to break up with my debt officially when I started my blog in January 2013! - deardebt

13 years ago, I was 35K in consumer debt and maxed out on my credit cards. A friend took me to lunch to find out what was wrong and I started crying because after bills, I had $5 for food for me and my cat. People were calling and asking for money and I didn't know how I was going to even feed my cat. My friend told me to file for bankruptcy and that was like a slap in the face. I remember sitting up and saying no way. I went back to work and cashed out some vacation to cover me for a bit. I also bought a cheap bike, got rid of my car, and gave myself a crash course in budgeting and debt repayment. Three years later, I was debt-free. I had a smaller epiphany this summer when I realized I needed to save more for retirement or I wasn't going to be in a good place. I found Budgets Are Sexy and the others and it opened me up to the world of FIRE. One of those things that makes you go hmmm... What else is there for me? - Lisa

Mine was only just a year ago. I was on Facebook and an old colleague posted (with outrage) the article about how millennials saving their money is stupid and they should be spending their money on experiences and going out now. My friend then linked to her favorite site which happened to be BudgetsAreSexy. I clicked through and read probably half of the site that day. I decided to go through and track every penny I had spent over the past four months and realized I was spending over $1,000 per month on food and alcohol for just myself and my fiance! Yikes... since then, I decided my goal would be to max out my Roth IRA, 401K and HSA. A couple of weeks left in the year, but I should be on track to hit that goal. I mentioned this to a much older co-worker recently and he could not believe how I was able to do this. Either I was getting paid much more than him (trust me, I am not) or I was super cheap. Things have been great. I still vacation and do fun activities, I just don't buy rounds of drinks for everyone I know every weekend or eat out at lunch anymore. I suggested he track his expenses for the past 3 months. He gasped and said, "That would be too horrifying. I don't even want to see that." Which is exactly the problem. Ignorance is bliss. Just like not wanting to step on the scale after a few years of overindulgence. But, what you can track, you can manage and change. It is terrifying seeing how much money you spend on things that don't truly add to your life. But, this is the best way to find your problems and face them head-on. - JVG

When my grandpa died and his house was being cleaned out, most of his stuff was tossed in a dumpster or donated to the local thrift shop. Huge eye opener for me. Up until that point I was like everyone else that wanted a big house, nice car, fine clothes, etc. My first epiphany was realizing that this $#!7 doesn't matter. Read the full story here at Get Rich Quickish .net

Mine was buying a house at the peak of the market with $0.00 down and an interest-only loan! Thankfully we could afford it and I was never terrible with money (just decisions!), but from that point forward I actively started paying attention to money and then accidentally stumbled across the PF blogosphere. And you know how that turned out. - J. Money

What was your money epiphany?