How “A-Ha!” Moments Can Save You Money

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Some of us learn financial lessons slowly over time. Others discover them all at once. I call them "a-ha!" moments.

What’s your “a-ha!” moment?

Discovering that your paycheck won’t cover even minimum debt payments? Buying a house? Being unable to buy a house? Wanting to stay home with the kids but fearing you can’t afford it?

All these defining moments turned spendthrifts into thrift-thrifts.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about what a reader called “a-ha!” moments. He and others discussed their personal moments on a message board.

Some “moments” were epiphanies, others were slowly dawning realizations. Readers variously described the experience as a slap in the face, a kick in the butt, a good hard look at oneself, a God-given wakeup call, and a sudden glimpse of a bleak future.

However they arrive, a-ha! moments carry the same basic message: Something has to change.

Where was the money?

Here’s what they had to say…

Bigdreams was a former recreational shopper who felt “quite a high” wwhenever good deals were found. But where was the money she had “saved”? Gone. “I didn’t take the savings and bank it. I just spent it somewhere else.”

Sunset Hiker was startled by a credit-card statement that categorized purchases. The number of entries in the “retail” section shocked Sunset into acknowledging, “I was buying more often than I’d thought.”

Watching a co-worker buy lunch out, Scoop358 suddenly connected the money they were earning to the money being spent: “Lunch is not equal to one hour of miserable work at this place.”

As a child, Jestjack watched his parents paying off endless auto loans. These days, they’re in hock to credit cards. Object lesson: Jestjack carries no consumer debt and hasn’t had a car loan for more than two decades.

A lost debit card brought Kamikaze1 up short. After the second day, “I realized I had saved about $30 by not using (it).” When the replacement card showed up, they decided not to carry it.

Had a wakeup call yet?

All right, readers: What was your a-ha! moment?

Was it when you had your first child? Made your first student loan payment? Found yourself dodging creditors?

Or maybe you’ve had your moment and ignored it. If so, here’s your chance to acknowledge reality. Post your epiphany here.

Those who’ve both faced and conquered those budget dragons: Please share your stories. Post any suggestions you have too: debt repayment strategies, free budgeting software, credit counseling, whatever.

Confession is not only good for the soul, it might be just the face-slap/butt-kick/bleak-future glimpse that you need to take back the reins.

More stories from Donna Freedman:

Stacy Johnson

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