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!