HomeFinancial ExperiencesWhat was your epihpany?

What was your epihpany?

I think it’s safe to assume all PDITF readers have two things in common…

1) At some point in your life, you decided to get your financial situation figured out

2) You’re all wearing leopard print underwear. (you followed my pictures instructions, right?)

Seriously though, you probably had a financial epiphany at some point… right? You know, a point where you suddenly went from “I don’t give a crap about my money” to “Oh crap, I did what with my money?”. If you are yet to realize the importance of getting your financial act together, I recommend you stop reading my blog and go visit this website…

I had my epiphany at the ripe age of 22. I had no interest in personal finance, but had a close friend who worked as a financial analyst. He was totally obsessed with his money. It was weird to me. I didn’t understand how he could spend so much time learning about boring financial mumbo jumbo.

But one night, while we were watching TV, he started talking about the wonders of a Roth IRA. I was intrigued, but way over my head. I couldn’t spell compuond intrist, let alone tell you what it was. Over the course of a couple hours I became more and more curious. This curiosity soon snowballed in to an obsession with personal finance.

Realizing that I already had decent financial habits, I decided it was time I maximized my potential. It’s an ongoing process and I am definitely not the smartest kid in the room, but I’m excited I got the ball rolling at 22 and not later. I don’t even want to know what my finances would be like had I not had that conversation. It wouldn’t be pretty, I know that for sure.

Now that you’ve heard my story, I’d love to know…

When did your financial epiphany occur?

How old were you?

What prompted it?

And what means do you take to financially educate yourself?



  1. i got it when i was 20 (i am 23) and it was after reading robert kiyosaki's rich dad poor dad. while the advice was not exactly credible, he helped me jump out of my financial complacency and see that it was dangerous to stay financially ignorant. I read a whole lot of financial mumbo jumbo

  2. My financial epiphany occurred after college. I saved a bunch of money during school, spent it on European Trip then had a bunch of loans. It hit me how much money I'd wasted (not on the trip).
    I could also say my epiphany started much earlier as I watched my parents struggle with money. Growing up seeing the frustration (of which i have now), I hoped never to be in a situation where my finances were dominated by bills I couldn't pay.


    I'm still financially educating myself. I set my parents up on Quicken to help their finances and learned much myself. I was also blessed because I saw the decision of my parents and learned naturally what's not good to do. Since then I've grown a lot listening Podcasts (NPR Planet Money, NY Times, WSJ, Money Girl) to educate myself. Having recently discovered Ninja, that's helped a lot too, especially sharing it with my girlfriend.

  3. Rick rocks!!! Just one question: was he singing that song to the little black guy doing that acrobatic stuff up against the chainlink? If so, boooyah.

  4. Got engaged, graduated from college with a real job, bought a house and was married all within about 4 months. Then I got bored.

  5. I have always been pretty good with money because of the poor examples I saw growing up. From that experience, I was determined to learn from other's mistakes and not end up where they did. I would not say I had an epiphany, though. Like one of the other commenters, I read 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' and even though I was already saving money, it changed the way I thought about money. It made me start to set goals with money. That was a few years ago.

    Recently, I found a blog called and I started thinking about how "stuff" was cluttering my life and how my financial journey could be helped if I decided to adopt a Minimalist lifestyle. More recently, I have started reading 'Your Money or Your Life', which has changed my concept of money, yet again.

    So, I would not say there was any one epiphany moment, but a series of life changes. It will be interesting to see where I am in my life and finances this time next year.

  6. For me it was when I got a raise at my job. The raise itself wasn't very large (4k/year) but for some reason it became an obsession to me how to best manage this new income. Never mind the tens of thousands I had frittered away up to this point in my life… THIS 4k was special and worthy of proper care! 🙂 I guess it was the first time in my life that I really thought ahead to what my financial goals are. Once those goals materialized it simply became a matter of figuring out the best way to get there.

  7. The epiphany you speak of happened about 6 months ago. I realized that we had to get our act (back) together. My husband and I actually rocked at PF from life post-college to pre-kids (age 22-28). However doubling the size of our family and 'down sizing' to one income hit us like a ton of bricks and it took about a year and a half to get our financial mojo back. Luckily for us the previous 6 years had set a great foundation (automatic savings deposits, retirement contributions, thrifty spending habits) and now we are in the position where we have the time and energy to focus on planning for the future as opposed to surviving the present (not in a negative way, just in an OMG we have twins kind of way:).
    On a side note, one of the major reasons that I read your blog is that I have a sister and brother in law a bit younger than you who are both floundering financially. They are not interested in talked to me or my husband about finances and I like to see what influences you and the decisions you make…since I have no idea how to reach out/support/knock some sense into them. Any tips on how to 'force' and epiphany on someone:)

  8. I didn't really have an epiphany; I have always been frugal. My parents were the same way, so I just followed suit. I got lucky!

  9. We wanted to buy a house, and the banker told us we could afford more than I thought we could, so I stopped house hunting and started budgeting to zero for a few months. When I started doing that, I realized I was shamelessly spending money of "fun" stuff. Then I got really into personal finance blogs…that was eight months ago, and here I am today!

  10. When did your financial epiphany occur? After inheriting STD (sexually transmitted debt) and having to sell my house I lived pay to pay.

    How old were you? 30

    What prompted it? I had always thought of myself as frugal so when Tracy Bartrum spoke about Simple Savings I the radio she prompted me to join (the free way until a special was on of course!).

    And what means do you take to financially educate yourself? As Dave Ramsey says it is 20% head knowledge, 80% behaviour. The lovely people at Simple Savings keep me on track with my behaviour and add in a little bit of head knowledge whenever I need that too. Other than that I read PF blogs and borrow books from the library.

  11. I was mad at my mom for something, 9 years old, and decided that could live on a tiny income just fine. I spent an afternoon on the play ground thinking of cheap food I could eat (hot dogs, beenie weenies, Ramen, tuna since it was 25 cents a can back then, mac and cheese, spaghetti, etc) and how I could live with roommates really inexpensively…yeah, I wanted to be an adult and take care of myself and stick my tongue out at my mom…

    Funny thing is that I moved out when I was 19 because of a different fight with my mom and actually followed my own playground advice through college while trying to maintain a 3.5 GPA in 12-18 hour semesters while working 2-3 part-time jobs to pay what my scholarships wouldn't cover. And I do think I stuck my tongue out at my mom the day I moved out…ummm…not my most mature moment.

    For what it's worth, my frugal nature meshes really well with my husband and my mom and I get along fine now…she and my dad taught me all the financial basics my whole life and I'm very thankful.

  12. Hah beat you! I started learning about personal finance when I was a month shy of my 19th birthday but didn't apply my new found wisdom until almost a year later. Six months later I have an almost fully funded E-fund, money saved up for my 21st birthday (I will be celebrating in VEGAS) and I'm doing research on stocks to determine how I want to invest my money. And I've never felt more pimp in my life.

  13. I have been pretty good about money management since I was like 5yrs old and got allowance for doing chores and was told that I had to save up if I wanted to buy something (outside of christmas and bdays of course!). I always loved math and money and was ALWAYS the cashier at garage sales/lemonade stands cause money makes me smile 🙂

    Had a really well off aunt/uncle growing up that have a sick house to this day and I realized I would like a few of those luxuries (came from a middle class home, but by no means wealthy, so visiting people with money is a definite eye-opener). So I have often deferred to my uncle about a lot of financial questions but try to read up on my own and I really like reading this blog cause it's not super serious but still informative as to the basics anyway (way to go on being cool! haha) .

    Coming out of school I will have no debt with a decent size savings account but I have also come to the realization that I don't need to be as wealthy as my aunt/uncle to be happy but I do want to make responsible choices with my money and do the best I can with what I've got (in this sense money is just like every other area of life i guess…making the best out of what you have)

  14. I feel like I am around the same age as your sis/ brother-in-law so maybe my input will be helpful. I know it's really hard to get through to people our age cause we know everything and don't need to be hassled by relatives. My advice is that if you are going to give advice do it indirectly, perhaps in a way that he/she thinks it was his/her idea (since we know everything). May sound difficult but it's really not…could start with a convo about something they have always wanted to do or have (just ask them… and then maybe why they haven't done it…if they haven't then ask them what they would do to make it happen). You could always share your personal experience at this point about something you always wanted and how you were able to do/get it. Obviously try to be a little smoother than my barrage of questions, letting them do most of the talking but the important part is to get them to relate money to something they are interested in in order to get their attention without turning them off. And start small cause as much as I would love to tell you that there is a way to make someone have an epiphany, it is an internal process that must be made by that person…in other words they have to come by it on their own but you can walk with them to the fork in the road and point them in the direction you would like to see them take… (hope this helps a little bit)

  15. I love my mom but when we lived together we fought like cats and dogs.

    My moment came when I was about 16 and making minimum wage. I was counting down the days to when I could move out (17) and I realized that I'd have to work about 80 hours a week to be able to afford an apartment and a car. It was distressing to know that I would never be able to get ahead unless I took drastic actions…That's when I figured out I needed to go to college and major in something that paid well (engineering).

    What confuses me is why did I find a way to dig out of poverty when most of my childhood neighbors are still rotting away in the hood? There's nothing that extraordinary about me, yet I got out when so many others didn't. I'm wondering if it has anything to do with my immigrant upbringing…and the nature of the people who take risks to move to a strange place with no safety net. Is risk taking genetic? And can you really call them risks when you have nothing to lose?

    I guess what I'm wondering is why do some people never have a financial epiphany? Woah…thought provoking post indeed.

  16. We were on a good income – about $75,000 but we had $10,000 in credit card debt and was living paycheck to paycheck. My hubby and I desperately wanted to buy a house but couldnt see a way we could ever afford it. (I was 28, he was 33)

    I googled "how to save money" started being frugal, paid off the CC, saved $15K deposit and ta-da now we've been in our own home for 15 months, and I've left my job to stay home with the kids. I don't think I could bear to go back to my wasteful days – spending money on frivolous crap just doesnt buy happiness.

  17. We were on a good income – about $75,000 but we had $10,000 in credit card debt and was living paycheck to paycheck. My hubby and I desperately wanted to buy a house but couldnt see a way we could ever afford it. (I was 28, he was 33)

    I googled "how to save money" started being frugal, paid off the CC, saved $15K deposit and ta-da now we've been in our own home for 15 months, and I've left my job to stay home with the kids. I don't think I could bear to go back to my wasteful days – spending money on frivolous crap just doesnt buy happiness.

  18. Runner
    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it! For the record, I was totally joking about forcing an epiphany on somebody…I realize that you can not make somebody want to do something until they are ready (although it would make things a lot easier:)
    Your conversation started sounds great, it is just that whenever my husband and I try to share, our siblings tune us out and say that everything is easy for us. They were 16 when we were their age (23 and 24) and don't remember us when we were new in our careers (or job searching), budgeting to save for a house, clipping coupons to keep costs down, etc. They feel that we already have everything and can't relate to their situation. We are at the point where we feel, do we continue to meddle and strain the relationships more or do we let them be and watch them continue to make the same mistakes over and over? My husband is leaning towards the latter, but I struggle with sitting by and watching the situations worsen. It is beyond frustrating.
    Again, I am so impressed with Ninja and all of the young 20 something commenters on this blog who have their act together or are working to get there. You guys are doing great!!

  19. I don't know that I ever had a specific epiphany; I always just knew that I wanted to live comfortably – not having to worry about money at all. To that end, I became obsessed in my late 20s with reading everything I could get my hands on about personal finance. Yes, that includes you and your blog. And to that end, I confess that I'm never going to give you up!

  20. Wow, I'm gald that PDITF readers are so awesome and help eachother out! I have nothing of value to add except Go Dawgs!

    • So, basically nothing of value:)
      Note to self: a strong rivalry against alumni from more prestigious schools is high on the list of factors that motivate your pf obsession. I'll have to pass that along to the sibs.

  21. Glad to see you are still contributing to the comments Runner. I wish I had your insight when I was in school!

  22. Mind blowing comment. It reminds me of my philosophy course in college. Makes my brain hurt thinking so deeply about things… haha. I blame you for my headache

  23. I can be your hero baby…haha nothing like a little Enrique Iglesias right? Personal finance is one of the few healthy obsessions 🙂

  24. Mine happened when I was 21. I was buried deep in credit card debt after opening six accounts to buy apartment goods and, later, clothes and food. I was in way over my head. I had let the payments lapse. I couldn't make the minimum payments, and a few of the cards had restricted me from making future purchases.

    I had a car accident right about the time that D moved in with me. So I had a good chunk of change from the accident and was saving money because my bills were cut in half. I was able to eliminate almost half my debt right away, finished the rest in three months' time and then closed all the accounts. It was a major wakeup call.

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