What was your lightbulb moment?

Sat, Feb 26, 2011


You know what I mean. The moment when you realized, Holy crap! I need to do something about my money situation! Not just thinking about doing something, but actually deciding to do it.

For me, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint. I already told you about my passionate love affair with PNC Virtual Wallet. I opened the account in December, and changes crept up on me before I knew what was happening. Being able to see my money visually made me want to hang on to more of it. I got some money for Christmas and deposited it right before walking into a mall - I fully intended to shop. As we walked through the mall, though, I didn’t see anything I could justify. I tried on some shoes (my weakness!) but didn’t want to pay $65 for them.

When I got home from the mall, I moved the Christmas money into savings and felt the strangest feeling. It was a mixture of pride, excitement, and maybe…fear? Historically, any time I put money in my savings account, I ended up pulling it out within a few days to buy something or keep a check from bouncing. I was scared to change because I didn’t know if I had the willpower to maintain it. But this time I thought about the Christmas money a little differently - I realized that if I hadn’t gotten it, I wouldn’t have starved to death or lost my home. It was truly extra money. And every time I added to it, saving became easier.

I didn’t know it then, but that first small deposit was my lightbulb moment. Maybe a “gateway drug.” Because right after that, I looked for ways to save more. I started cutting costs and spending less. I used my tax return to pay off credit cards instead of buying the bedroom furniture I desperately need but can live without for awhile longer. Then I changed my W4 to eliminate a tax return so I’d have more money to save. I joined Twitter so I could keep up with posts from finance blogs. I even started my own blog to hold myself accountable! My entire mindset shifted because of one small step.

So, my two or three readers out there, what was YOUR lightbulb moment? I’d love to hear your stories!

14 Responses to “What was your lightbulb moment?”

  1. Out My window says:

    I told my daughter she could go to France. (Long story)I then realized I had to pay for this trip. But I was deeply in debt. So I said as long as I don't charge any of this she can go. I worked harder, I paid monthly into the account and the trip was paid for over the school year. I did that without going further into debt. Well if I can do that then I could save a $5000.00 down payment for a truck. I was still in debt but I did that. So then I figured if I could save large sums of money and not go any further into debt then I could get out! So I am. It has taken me years to get to this point. I have been in serious debt for over 30 years. It is a slow process, sometimes I regress, sometimes I have to stop and pay the minimum but I am making progress!

  2. Lizzy says:

    Andrea, I just found your blog - My lightbulb moment was when I had to tell my husband that I didn't know where our savings went.  We started the year with $5000, added $6500, and ended May with $1500 Ouch!! Turns out it went to starting his company ($2500) and a baby ($6500). Only $1000 had vanished, but it still hurt to tell him and made me start watching our money like a hawk.

    • Thanks for commenting! I always wondered why no one had anything to say about this subject. :) Sounds like your moment was EXACTLY the kind I was talking about! Off to check out your blog; welcome to the site!

  3. Red says:

    My lightbulb moment was when a Comcast technician came to collect my cable box because I was so behind on my bills. I had moved into an apartment for the first time and had just paid tuition. I put my bills on the back burner while I donated plasma to have enough money to eat. I wrote the technician a check I knew would bounce and thought, "Holy, crap, I'm in some serious trouble."

    It was at that time that I buckled down, began cutting out things like my tanning bed package and other frivolities. It took a while and a lot of tears and unanswered calls from collection agencies (credit cards!), but I finally got caught up on my bills, paid off my credit cards, and got hooked on personal finance. :)

  4. Dashinghound says:

    My lightbulb moment happened over Christmas, when I found myself sitting in my mother's living room having a panic attack just thinking about the financial mess and mounting bills I would have to return home to deal with after the celebrations were over. The utility bill was $140 (my fortnightly food budget) and I had recently had my hours at work cut to zero, and my partner had also lost his job two weeks before Christmas. We were broke and scared and almost out of hope. My mother was very kind and lent us the money to pay our utility bill (we're still at university) and I was able to access two weeks' grocery assistance through government agencies. We have started an emergency fund into which we will be putting every spare scrap of money, are focused on getting new jobs, have cut our expenditure down to the minimum and will be paying my mother back when we can. Looking back I feel like an idiot for burying my head in the sand and allowing the situation to spiral out of control, and am glad that we now have a plan to dig us out of this hole.


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