When did you realize your money situation had changed?

I want your a-ha! moment when it comes to money and your personal finances.

Ramit Sethi

The first time I remember my money situation really changing was when I got my first scholarship check for college. I realized if I could get one scholarship … I could get five … and then 10 … and then, pay my way through undergrad and grad school.

That totally changed the way I thought about going to college and money.

Other moments where I realized my financial situation had changed:

  • I realized I could take a taxi instead of the subway on my way to a sweltering summer meeting
  • I walked out of the grocery store realizing I hadn’t looked at the prices of anything — I just got what I wanted

I’m curious about your story: What’s the moment you realized your money situation had changed?

For example:

  • The moment you ordered off the menu without looking at price
  • The moment you decided to catch a taxi without thinking twice
  • The moment you covered a round for your friends and didn’t worry after

Let’s have some fun. It would mean a lot to me to see your wins. Leave a comment and tell me what the moment was and what it meant to you.

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  1. Katy

    I moved straight in with my now fiance after university, to his house where I paid him a nominal amount for rent and food, but had very little responsibility for financial matters as everything was in his name and he both made more than me and didn't have student loans. Whether I had money or not made no real impact on if the lights were on and there was food in the fridge.

    8 years later, I took a temporary job abroad for a couple of years. I realised my situation had changed when I looked around the apartment that I had rented and furnished, the bills in my name, the food int he fridge that I bought according to my budget and thought, 'Yes! I did this! This is all me!'

    Now I'm home again, we're so much more equal. It's impacted positively on our whole relationship dynamic. I used that time away to grow up and stop thinking like a teenager with regards to my finances. I pay for dinner more often, buy the groceries, have an actual emergency fund rather than thinking I can rely on him to bail me out etc etc. I realised I could take care of myself on my own salary without him as a buffer zone. And I'm a far better partner for it.

    • TIMO

      Good Job, Katy. Carry On

  2. Brian

    My moment was when I recently changed my credit card autopay option from minimum amount due to full statement balance

    • Amy

      Wow. That is huge.

    • TIMO

      GREAT! I hope it stays that way from now forward.

  3. Chris L. Robinson

    My wife and I took my son to California for his first spring break. When we returned home, we learned that my wife’s car has been booted (not our fault). We paid to get it out. A week later, my car was booted (my fault—tickets). We paid to get it out. It occurred to me that a couple of years before, any one of those things would have left us eating ramen for weeks.

    • Morph

      That's Really unlucky and pretty cool at the same time congrats Chris!

  4. Ben B.

    After having been in the red for quite some time, and racking up a few thousand in credit card debt, I noticed one day that my personal checking account had broken $10,000 and the only debt I had was one car loan and my mortgage. I saw that number, and had to take a minute for it to actually settle and click that it really was there.

  5. Nathan

    When I stopped thinking about payday

    • Jayla


    • Erin

      Same here. The other day, a much older coworker of mine started chatting about how excited she was that payday was this week and what she was going to do with her money. My first thought was "Huh, I don't remember the last time I cared when it was payday." And my second was wondering why at her age she hadn't figured out her finances yet so she didn't have to care. Was kind of a win moment for me personally, although I owe it more to my accountant/data analysis husband, who has whipped my ass into shape in such matters

    • Katell

      Oh yeah!

  6. Allan Holder

    That time my car broke down in a small town that I was passing through on a Sunday when everything was closed and parts would take days, so I just traded it in at the local dealer and just drove out of there to keep my plans.

    • Christopher Robinson

      Dang! Baller!

  7. Ella

    Things changed for me when I realized I could put aside a third of my paycheck and not experience a substantial decrease in the quality of my life.

  8. Phil B.

    Before my son was born, the moment my money situation changed for me was when I realized I could buy $20 steak meal. Lets be honest, I'm not paying more than $20 for a steak. Food is food to me.

    Now that I have a son and my wife is unemployed, maybe I won't go to Starbucks for a coffee, and instead I'll go to the corner cart for a black coffee.

  9. Jeffrey

    I've always felt abundant about money. Some might call it reckless, and I didn't have great savings until I read the IWT book a few years ago, but I never really considered the few dollar difference between purchase options. If I needed shoes, I got them. If I needed food, I bought it. In college I had multiple jobs to make that a reality. After college, I made sure to have a steady job, whatever that may have been (and I'm always looking to create that informational product). Life's too short to have a scarcity mindset.

  10. Jason C.

    My first decent one was ordering pizza for delivery during senior year of college. I worked at a local hotel, and was making ok money for a college dude. The local pizza place made up promise we were going to tip the driver if they delivered to our dorm as they had been getting hosed a lot lately. I was rather aghast at the question as not tipping wasn't in the options and I had the money, no problem.

    The second was seeing 5 figures in savings for the first time and no debt. I bought a bottle os Champagne to celebrate. That was a good day.

    • Jenna

      That's awesome! Such a good feeling!

  11. Christy

    When I could actually lend money to investors and get involved in real estate syndications. It is a male dominated field but I wanted to”play” with the big boys.

    • Jenna

      Yasss girl, yass!

  12. Ralph

    About a year ago, I attended a work related conference in Europe (I'm from Australia) and realised that work must value me enough since they're providing most of the costs for business class flights, hotels and expenses.

    Then I realised I would've probably just just paid for it anyway if they hadn't.

  13. Mark

    When travelling we finally started to book nice hotels in the location we wanted to be in ahead of time. Before thenwe sometimes arrived looked around and rented a car since it was a cheaper place to sleep.

  14. Bret

    I think the big one for me was ignoring the price per gallon of gas. Regretfully, I still look, but rarely decide to shop for the other 4 cents better deal. I now stop when convenient. Out of all the minor savings I get (what, 75 cents?). Ramit,you talk a lot about the psychology of money. I'm sure that pump prices are ingrained on the typical American psychology.

    • Chris

      The gas price mentality kills me. My retired parents, who travel the world, still fester about the price flux and station differences

  15. Jayla

    When I realized that I had too much cash in my emergency fund and had to learn where/how to invest it.

  16. Chris H

    1) When I stopped looking at gas station prices. I just stop where it's convenient.

    2) When I started considering price points of $5 or less to be free, like a Starbucks purchase. I can do one of those a day and it's only $150/month.

    3) When the enjoyment of a hotel became more of a factor than the price point. Same with airline flight times and layovers.

    4) Spending to make life more enjoyable is part of my financial gameplan. Just need to stick to my 40/30/30 structure (taxes/overhead/invest)

  17. Brad

    Realizing that I could hire people to do yard work, build a fence, etc. I used to think that people should DIY and were just wasting money. Now that I have the money to afford these services and care more about my free time (more time to spend with the kids, exercising, etc) I totally understand why these services exist. Completely changed my perspective and made me realize I was judging other people's expenses because I couldn't afford them.

  18. Tree

    My biggest life-changing a-ha moment was when I signed my name on the legal documents stating that I was officially declaring bankruptcy. Sounds like an awful moment (and it was), but more so, it was a clearly defining moment for me because I suddenly (and finally) realized my role in my financial situation. I finally took full responsibility for everything that happened to me and everything I caused to happen. With the signing of my name (no one else can sign it for you!), I felt like I was passing through an invisible membrane from being a kid to becoming an adult (this was nearly 10 years ago and I was in my 30s!). My money situation changed from that day on for the better.

  19. Caitlin

    The first time, I realized it was the end of the month and I wasn't scrounging for dollars to get that last round of groceries. In fact, I had a couple hundred bucks to cushion the next cycle. Bills paid, fridge stocked is a great feeling.

    More recently I realized my situation has REALLY changed when I had tickets to a concert and was able to treat a friend, instead of trying to sell off the extra. Our experience was worth so much more than the face value of a ticket! Such a great feeling.

  20. Caitlin G

    One of the biggest moments for me was gaining financial freedom. I finally overcame my fears of debt and began to really track my spending. I negotiated lower APR's on my credit cards, and was able to get rid of a few annual fees.

    I put everything on my credit cards (bills and subscriptions) and have an auto draft to pay everything at the end of the month-no excuses. I made a "stupid mistakes" savings accounts with auto drafts $100, and another savings accounting for interest growth. Everything else left in my bank account is for fun, or for my education!

    One of the biggest milestones was when Discover saw this work going into action. After only three months of this system they raised my credit limit $1,300, and they changed my card to a miles card! Now I get 1.5 miles for every dollar spent!

    THANK YOU! Your book is inspiring and has changed my relationship with money. I now make money work for me, and I am not always working for money.

  21. Scott L

    Two things:

    1) when I stopped getting the cheapest hotel when I travel, and
    2) when I started paying for luxuries like getting a massage

    When I met my fiance, I was right out of college and working my first job. When we took our first trip internationally together, we stayed mostly at cheap local hotels because we couldn't afford much else. I thought it was silly and wasteful that she wanted to spend money on a spa day while we were travelling.

    Four years later, a good deal of the time when we travel we're staying at four star hotels, and I even bought us a couples massage the last time we were travelling. What a world of difference it makes to have your finances in order so you can live freely!

  22. Pam

    The day I realized that I had a salary in a career making enough that I could finally quit my part-time job for good, and not be worried between pay checks. The full-time gig paid every other week. The part time gig paid weekly. The day I realized I didn't have to count on the weekly dollars to make up for sort fall between every other week pay checks.

    It's been 10 years since I've worked a full-time and a part-time job. Now I do side-hustle work when I want instead of because I have to.

  23. Amy

    When I finally left grad school, there was moment of realization where I knew things were truly going to be different. I had jobs since I was 16 but never made enough money to support myself and have much left over. Even though my graduate student stipend was enough to live on, I had been living frugally for basically my entire adult life. I took trips only to visit family or attend my friends weddings. I went out with friends but not that often. I rarely bought anything new unless the thing I was replacing was broken or unusable in some way. Recently though, I finally completed my PhD and found a great job in my field. It's been two months and everything is amazing. I woke up one day and realized that I don't have to compromise on all my financial decisions anymore. I went through all my possessions and donated anything that I had been keeping "just in case" – the bin of clothes under my bed that I can only wear when I'm 10 pounds lighter (because I'd hate to have to re-buy clothes), the DVDs that I never watch (because paying to rent these movies again wasn't an option), the old, rusty kitchen utensils and six different sets of mismatched bedding that my mom gave me when she cleaned out her closet – in short, everything I was worried I'd need the second I got rid of it. Now I know that I can afford the things I want and need, when I want or need them. I don't have to hoard decades of accumulated junk anymore. It felt so liberating!

    • Jenna

      Such a good feeling to realize you don't need to keep things "just in case!" I'm going to remember that as I'm going through my things.

      And congrats on the PhD and subsequent job!

  24. Brandon

    I’m going through this transition now. Due to family struggle and me having a complete mental breakdown post family struggle I lost my car. Defaulted on my $2500 college credit card and defaulted on my student loans. Now I’m on loan rehabilitation. I’ve paid of my credit card in full and I’m able to do everyday things like uber for drinks or buy new shoes if needed without thinking about it. I still think about purchases over $500 or so, I’m still saving for a vehicle and I’m still bringing my credit score up (just starting to increase now). But we’re getting there.

  25. Elenor

    I don't think I ever "just spend money" without considering it. Perhaps my epiphany (?) about money was when I read "Your Money or Your Life" (many decades ago) and began to think of ALL spending as the use of my life energy. However, I do not "hover over" costs. As long as I am well-set (IRA, savings, income, credit, house, etc.); I buy what I want — but my "wants" are tempered by the diff. between wants and needs. I 'allow' myself one large house expense a year (e.g., new roof in 2015, new gutters in 2016). I purchase good food; I mostly don't eat out because I usually prefer my own cooking. If I get a craving for a hibachi meal, I call a friend and take them out. If no craving, no meal out.

    I must say, though, (despite that I am SO not his usual demo, being 62) that Ramit's website/book/teachings were AMAZINGLY helpful when my husband died in 2011 and left me with a house, car, motorcycle, and business NOT in my name… AND with $102k in credit card debt! (EEK!) Paid that off, (while figuring out how to run the MFG company), and am back to living my usual value-based way of life. (I had written 'frugal' — but it's not that; I'm not happy but I'm willing to spend $130 on a pair of Birkies, cause that's what I live in. I don't waste money on stuff I won't use or enjoy.)

    I have NO complaints for how my beloved ran our financial lives (I was a happily 'kept' wife), no matter that he left me in quite a pickle! We had an excellent wonderful life together, and I would not give up a second of it, even to NOT have found myself so deep in a hole. (He was SO not supposed to die at 60!!) It was not in any way how I would have — or do not — run my finances,but it was a brilliant, wonderful life.

  26. Mark

    Our only debt is our mortgage (five years to go on a fifteen!), we are both maxing out our 401(k)s, and we are where we want to be saving for college. The big moment for me was the first time I got a raise after all of those things were true… I thought to myself, "What am I going to do with the extra money every month?"

    Contrast that from my junior year of college on the day of my last final. I was working 30 hours per week and money had been tighter than usual due to some apartment expenses. I had five dollars cash and no credit card. I hadn't eaten since breakfast the day before but needed the five dollars to drive home for Winter Break. I found a ten dollar bill on the ground next to the pump, so I bought two hot dogs and a bottle of water and spent the rest on gas. I had tears in my eyes those crappy gas station hot dogs tasted so good.

    That moment popped into my head the next instant after I asked myself the money question and made it even sweeter.

    • Jenna

      Wow that's amazing! Such a cool transition from that moment. Way to go.

  27. Liesl

    I had just gotten a new job after getting laid off from my previous job. My husband and I were living in a cramped basement – I jokingly referred to it as our "basement closet" because it was such a tiny apartment. I was making more than I ever had in my life and I was super excited about my new boss. He had campaigned for me to get an even higher starting salary, but his boss had the final say and so my starting salary wasn't as high as my boss had asked. I didn't mind – I was just happy that my boss wanted the best for me, and he barely even knew me.

    But one of the indications that my money situation had changed was when I was telling my friend this story about my new boss. I was happy to have a boss who actually WANTED me around. I was excited for job security. But my friend fixated on how much I was making, and she said, "You're making more than me." I immediately felt guilty and regretted ever bringing up my salary with her.

    I was happy to be in a new situation and to have job security, but an unfortunate side effect of my money situation changing was resentment coming from my friend. I don't talk about my salary anymore because I don't want to isolate the people around me.

  28. JB

    I realized my situation had changed when I got angry and bought my truck. I was in a relationship with someone who had been the main breadwinner, and was used to being the dominant one. I was tired of being dependent, and getting resentful. We shared a vehicle – his truck – and whenever he needed it, I was left stranded. I had recently started a new job (at double my previous salary) and now we earned an equal wage. After about 6 months of my new income, I had paid down my debts and saved up some cash. One day, a situation arose regarding the truck (I had been using it to get to work, he had a company vehicle), and he behaved like a real jackass. In a split second, I was done being dependent and done feeling degraded. I went to the dealership that day and bought my truck. It was listed at 71, and I paid 50. I financed for 0% and drove away ecstatic. I drove straight home, showed him my new truck, and instantly leveled the playing field and power dynamic in the relationship. It was one of the greatest feelings I've ever felt.

    • Jenna


      Way to bulldoze that awful power dynamic with your awesome new truck!

  29. Radan

    When i was planning to buy a brand new car and putting down financial plans to calculate how much i can safely take from savings and how big of a bank loan i should take and i realised i don’t need any loan at all.

  30. Brian

    This past winter we visited Universal Orlando (from Wisconsin) for the first time with our three children 7,7,5. I read somewhere that the most affordable meal in the park would be to get a whole pizza from a particular vendor (rather than getting individual slices), but pretty much at that point I decided trying to save money was going to wreck the trip- we would have a significantly better time if we didn’t worry about our spending. So at that very same meal (our first lunch at the parks) when the kids asked if they could have Icees, I immediately said, “yes”, at which time our youngest says loudly/excitedly, “He said YES!” which might be my favorite 1 second of the entire trip. It felt great to have the means to “splurge” on something we probably normally would’ve said ‘no’ to to save money.

  31. Rich

    A couple of years I was planning a trip to Europe. When someone mentioned the price of a business class flight from a nearby city I looked up the flight I wanted to take and it seemed so cheap that I booked it immediately (it wasn't a pricing error, it still cost a few thousand dollars). For a long time that was hard to imagine.

    This month I meant to add $10,000 to my investment portfolio but ended up adding nearly $50,000. It's not quite from spare cash since I'll need to re-arrange a couple of things as a result. But each move was perfectly reasonable and didn't cause any difficulties.

    I already have a good-sized portfolio helping me choose what I really want to do but this is a big step since it puts me ahead by more than a year of normal returns. And I'll probably add a bit more next month.

  32. Emily

    One day, I went into a beautiful model home just to check out the interior design for fun. I fell in love with the house. While I was leaving, the salesman asked me what I thought of it. I told him I loved it, and jokingly asked "what kind of rich person must be able to afford a house like that". There was no one else around, so we ran the numbers. To my disbelief, I could comfortably afford it! Till that point, it never occurred to me that my money situation had changed. I bought the house and still live in it today, 16 years later, and still in love with it.

  33. Miguel G

    I realized I'm at a different place when:
    -A couple of years ago I realized that our fridge was always full. For years, it was almost always empty. I didn't even noticed when it started to be full more often than not.
    -But, the biggest realization was when a month ago I bought a vacation package to Disneyland for my family.
    For years (years!) I thought that a vacation like that was too expensive/that we didn't have the money and that we couldn't afford it. Turns out, we could afford it, but I was in denial. I thought I could not afford it and didn't even looked at prices. Then, my wife told me one day "our kids are growing, we should go while it's still magical for them". I realized she was right. So, I ran the numbers, checked my accounts and paid for the package in full. We're leaving in two weeks.

    The biggest hurdle was mental, not in the bank account. Thanks for all you do, Ramit.

  34. Ana Verzone

    My mother died unexpectedly while we were in Morocco. I didn’t panic about how we were going to afford getting home with last minute tickets or how I was going to pay for everything. I got online, bought us one-way tickets home via Paris, and booked a beautiful hotel to stay in while we had a long layover. When we arrived in California, many relatives flew in from all over the world, and I didn’t think twice about paying for all their meals every day and night and for cab rentals and excursions. For me, that’s the main reason to have money – so I can focus on being a good person and living life to the fullest, and not waste mental energy on how much things cost.

  35. Dan Tricarico

    I realized I was in a (slightly) better money place when my book came out and I got my first royalty check and I went to the grocery store and filled a basket with food (I think it came to about $125 or so) or so and loaded it into my car and took it directly to my church and donated all of the food to the church food bank and that Sunday I dropped another $125 in the collection (I'm usually a nothing or $5 kind of guy). Doing those two things was an AMAZING feeling. The 2nd book is on its way and I plan to do the same thing.

  36. Craig

    Two moments I realized things had changed:

    1. Was when my credit score started going up, rapidly. My sole financial goal was to pay down debt (I had almost $8k after losing a job and making a few rash purchases).

    The first month a few points, the second, ten, then about 6 months later I had moved up from 600~ to 750+ credit score. I paid down so much debt (after I started saying no to trips with friends, expensive dinners, and buying stuff on amazon every day). Now I'm a freak about my credit score and am continually trying to improve it, as I'm expecting some larger purchases in the next 5 years (2-unit rental property, car, etc) and want to ensure I get the best rates.

    2. Using your advice and setting up automatic deductions – I thought I would miss the money. But since it never hit my spending account, I was able to adjust my living situation appropriately. After a few months, I looked in my Roth and Savings accounts, I was astounded at how much I had saved. And to think I would have spent it with nothing to show had I not set up the systems.

  37. Jairo

    We were traveling with my wife and she was not feeling well, we had a flight at 10 AM that got delayed 6 hours.

    I convinced my wife to go to a hotel nearby so we could rest (she didnt want to spend the money), I insisted, specially since she was not feeling well. We came back to catch our flight and we were feeling rested and refreshed while all the other people looked tired and cranky.

    Those were the best $200 bucks spent in our trip! I realized that even that 200 bucks is still a bunch of money I valued more our comfort and the well being of my wife.

  38. Sissel

    Many years ago, I decided that I can pay for house cleaning. I wanted it for a long time and always felt I had to earn more, but when I earned more I just felt that it wasnt enough. So one day I thought if this isnt enough when will it ever be enough.

    Last year however it was the opposite: earnings had increased and I had become too careless with my spendings. It was a bit of a shock realising how much I have spent on a summercabin. I now work on finishing it so I can rent it out.

  39. Justin Thomas

    I bought ground turkey. Yeah, this is a weird example – but I knew that was in a better money situation when I could buy the healthier versions of my groceries without it giving me chest pains. Ground turkey, Amish eggs, salmon from the butcher counter, brussel sprouts that weren't from the freezer aisle, all in the same trip as buying a pint of Ben and Jerrys (which is way expensive!), and I knew I was in a different echelon of my life.

  40. Su

    Here are a few of my fav moments:
    – book flight tickets to go home anytime of the year, and visit my family without worrying about price of ticket
    – first real bonus that was 5-figure after using the dream job strategy to secure a super job!
    – walk into a store and buy groceries without worrying if I have enough money to pay
    – treat my family to every meal when they visit me without feeling the pain or having to Budget how much to spend per meal

    Thanks for IWT and great psychological strategies Ramit!
    Love your work, please keep ‘em coming…

  41. JeMarc Boliver

    Getting royalty checks from my books was a punch of ENCOURAGEMENT and EXCITEMENT… that it is POSSIBLE to add VALUE to other people, in a way that can work without punching a time-card… to allow you to earn more FREEDOM and go solve more problems for other people (with other books, videos, knowledge-products, music, etc…). We live in an amazing time in history – no matter the situation you are in, you have the ability to CHOOSE to add VALUE in the world, and INVEST your time/energy into projects that can serve more and more people. It takes pushing-through the "BURN" when you start lifting weights or exercising… pushing through the change of habits or mindsets with MONEY and VALUE-CREATION is the same thing… INVEST the TIME to get the results. You got this!

    "Jay the Janitor" 🙂

  42. Joseff

    For me I wasn't making a lot more money yet but I had totally overhauled how I approached my budget (thanks to IWT). My moment of "ah-ha!" was when I realized I hadn't gone online to check my bank account and see if I could afford this or that in weeks. I hadn't needed to and I was actually getting a lot more of what had mattered to me and it felt like I had been spending way more than ever. When I did check my bank account I was shocked to see more money sitting there than I had ever amassed before. The first in a long string of victories.

  43. DeeCee

    When I realised it changed for the worse:
    when I paid my credit card bill each month from my savings
    when I called the bank to ask what the penalties would be if I paid only the minimum payment on my credit card bill

    When I realised it changed for the better:
    the moment I stopped spending from my savings
    the moment I needed gas and just went to the gas station without concern
    the moment someone suggested a road trip with me as the driver and I didn't decline because I couldn't figure out how to tell them I can't afford the gas
    the moment I paid all my bills and then paid myself a chunk
    the moment I realised I was consistently putting money away every month
    the moment co-workers were all saying they were broke, two borrowed money from me, but I was ok

  44. Ed T.

    Let me share a couple of moments:

    – The first was at my first job out of college, in 1988, when I got a raise from $250 to $265/week. That little bump allowed me to go out for a Jumbo Jack every once in a while, and I could buy a couple of beers at a happy hour, and know that I could cover my other bills that month.

    -Perhaps the more relevant moment happened just yesterday. I took my wife and son to a nice restaurant and paid for it out of my business account. Since my business includes food writing and culinary tours, it was a legitimate business expense. It felt wonderful to pay for it and know that it's not coming out of our regular bank account. My business is still in its very early stages, so I can't do this very often. But just being able to do this at all is a huge motivator to build this business so I can better provide for my family, and enjoy some great extras, too.

  45. VK

    For me it was simply realizing I've never had more saved up at any one point in time and realizing I HAD to make decisions. I used to pay bills with my paychecks, with not many options other than that. No shopping for interest rates, no investing outside the 401k, no freedom to book that flight home without first budgeting or using credit. This is a great problem to have and I'm very fortunate to be where I'm at financially. In a way, having to make more money decisions is incredibly liberating.

  46. Maikas

    it was good moment I paid all I wanted. I could order anything at restaurant. and money was some strange stuff I dont need to get hardly.
    and all that happened due to my lottery style investment into bitcoin and other alt coins… strange age we live in…somebody doesnt need money and somebody needs it a lot… and all of them can generate enough money…

  47. Tanya

    I booked a fancy-ish 5 day New Orleans trip on 3 days notice. This will sound nuts, but it wasn’t until day 3 of that trip that I realized my financial situation had changed.

    Today my finances are probably 4x better than they were that day. I’m comfortable picking up a round of drinks or a taxi or even blowing a couple thousand on a water park resort for me and all the nieces and nephews. But honestly, I don’t feel close to financially secure. I doubt I ever will.

  48. Brian

    For me it was the first time I took my parents out for a nice dinner and paid for it!

  49. Emily

    When I realized we could comfortably afford daycare $3k/mo (3 kids under 5) and not be eating ramen noodles, we could still save, and do things we like to do. I remember having the first wondering how we'd afford the extra $1,000 expense. I'll be looking forward to the raise, when they are all in school, until then I'm grateful we can do it.

  50. Erin

    My win moment was finally getting my name off of any joint account with my parents and taking over all of my bills. I'm still not able to contribute as much as my husband to our shared finances, but I have a full-time job at last. It helps me feel like an adult and like my life is started to move forward.

  51. Danny

    I realized my situation changed when out with some friends at a bar. When the bill came my friends started figuring out who owed what, who had cash, what goes towards tip, etc. (Too add to the mess, I think one person was in the restroom at the time!)

    In the confusion I slipped my card in and gave it to the waiter. Before anyone knew it, the bill was settled. Sooo much easier that way!

    I knew that the charge wouldn't set me back, and a stress-free outing with friends is worth way more than making sure everyone paid their fair share.

  52. Gretchen

    When I banked so much in a month that I quit fighting other drivers in traffic. I easily surrendered the right-of-way without feeling anything except my own nobility. Just because they were worried about their place in the world, and I wasn't.

  53. Jessica

    The first time I booked a ticket to Europe and selected the date and time I wanted to go and not the cheapest option, and an upgraded seat without thinking about how many extra days of hotels that upgrade would cost. I didn't actually realize it until I was on the flight, then I had my "wow, things have changed" moment.

  54. Ben

    After getting home from my first consulting gig, having tripled my hourly rate after going through Earn1k, I realized I could grab a nice to-go salad from a restaurant instead of the grocery store. Nothing earth shattering, but I don’t have super-expensive tastes- just nice to realize I could grab whichever, but that price didn’t have to be a concern or the deciding factor.

  55. TD

    When I paid all of my bills with the first paycheck in the month and had cash left over.

  56. Jill Elaine Hughes

    My situation changed when I was 100% out of debt, had a six-figure income, and the freedom to send my kids to private school/private summer camp without losing any sleep at night. This was the culmination of many years' worth of fiscal discipline, some of which I learned through the School of Hard Knocks (where I got tired of always being broke due to low pay and debt), and the balance of which I learned by dedicating myself full-throttle to the study of personal finance, both personally and professionally (as a journalist that covered this as one of my beats).

    I discover that my relationship with money is always changing. This year, I was diagnosed with cancer, and pleasantly discovered that my husband really, really has my back. I can stop working if I want (though I don't want to) and we would be fine financially.

  57. Anne

    The moment that I checked in to a 4 1/2 star hotel for the first time. I had struggled for many years as a single parent raising two children. When the concierge at the front desk waved us to the elevator and we rode up to our suite, I shed tears of joy. The worst was finally over.

  58. ted

    Parking at the airport instead of off airport.

  59. Adriana

    The first time I realized it was when I began paying my CC is full every month. I went from using my CC to live to using my CC because it felt more practical. I felt so powerful and in control!

    The second time was when I was talking with one of my best friends, who was going through a very rough time. He couldn't afford his (expensive) medication that month, so I said I would pay for it. I realized I now could keep my stuff in order while being able to help others, which felt awesome.

    (Friend's back on his feet and doing great, btw).

  60. Wenda

    It was when I (on my own) qualified and was approved for my first major commercial loan at the bank. My banker is a Senior VP, whose office is upstairs in their main office. They arranged an insurance "essential party" policy on ME to anchor the loan. No man was needed on my side of the transaction.

    When I became an adult in 1972, women could NOT have a credit file. We weren't allowed to qualify for house loan. We were either within child bearing age or too old. The Fair Credit Act didn't become law until 1974. Women had low paying jobs — not careers. We got our engagement rings while we were in high school & got married soon after we graduated. We had our first baby during the first year of marriage. We didn't go to college because we were wives and mothers.

    I didn't fit the norm. I did get married, BUT… I did go to college. I didn't have a baby the first year. I did have a good career and was one the only women in my field. I totally bucked the system.

    All of these norms have changed in my lifetime.

  61. Tracy

    I can think of a few:

    When I realized I could afford paying my student loans off at a rate greater than I was accruing interest.

    When my husband and I went to one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, ordered whatever we wanted off the menu w/multiple drinks, and still tipped 20% on the total bill without thinking about it.

    This year, when I can afford to rent two Airbnb beach houses for 20 of my friends to stay the whole weekend of my wedding.

  62. Rachael

    When I heard everyone at work talking about pay day and I hadn't even realized that it was. I used to count the hours until midnight on payday just making sure my accounts didn't bounce. Now I have enough of a cushion that payday isn't the most exciting part of my Fridays anymore

  63. Brandy

    I got a parking ticket and didn't panic about how I would pay for it. I was bummed, but not devastated as I had been in the past.

  64. Maja

    The moment I found out I have a chronic illness and had to pay for treatment out of pocket month after month. I had to learn very quickly how to save in other areas of my spending behavior in order to come up with the money needed for treatment each month. I no longer was able to freely spend money however I wanted.

  65. Kim

    When I could fill up my whole gas tank in my car instead of watching the meter and stopping at $5 or $6.32. Oh, college life.

  66. Matthew Rottmann

    A few years ago I was on a work trip in Portland. I had struggled with whether or not to get a rental car, I finally decided to try it for a week and see how I felt about it at the end. When my friends came to visit for a few days I heard all the same struggles: "I'd love to see this or that, should we split an Uber?" "Does the train go past this?". I felt a sense of calm fill me up when I realized I could drive us wherever. I had just had my first paycheck where I put more into the bank than into bills. That's when I realized I was over that hump. (N.B. I had just finished reading IWT a few weeks before)

  67. Annie

    When I realized I could get acupuncture and tui na massage every week though my insurance doesn't cover it.

  68. Whitney

    When my husband and I were able to snowball and add additional funds to get rid of our car loan and student debt (everything paid off within 4.5 years after we both graduated from university- me with a bachelor's degree, he has a master's degree). Now our only debt is our mortgage, and half of my monthly salary pays the mortgage each month. So basically my husband's salary and anything left over from my salary can be utilized however we want by maxing out our retirement accounts, increasing our emergency fund, and having the luxury to spend money however we want, even after our automated payments are completed each month for other cost of living details.

  69. Juan

    Hi Ramit.

    When I could buy all the concerts ticket I wanted and realizing I did not affected much my monthly budget

  70. Emily

    For me it was the first time we could afford to pay a babysitter, instead of having to trade with friends. AND we went out to eat and had enough money that we didn’t have to share a meal. That felt like liberation! We’ve come a long way since then, but that was the first time I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief and realized things were definitely looking up.

  71. Nathan Hui

    Financial epiphany moments:
    -When I landed my first private tutoring client and realized I never had to work a minimum wage job ever again
    -When my girlfriend and I started dating and I realized that I was financially secure enough to take her to fancy musicals and restaurants she had always dreamed of going to.

    These moments finally helped me realize I could stop living in "poor college student" identity. I could afford my education while living abundantly.

  72. j

    Borrowing against the future to pay for the present.

    The realization that I was doing this caused me to rethink and change so many aspects of my life, beyond just money matters.
    At work, I noticed I was watching the clock, just doing satisfactory work. I wasn't challenging myself, growing my skills. I realized that life applies friction. It's better to discharge my duties with enthusiasm to the best of my ability today. This is the best way I know how to prepare for the looming storm off beyond the horizon.

    With friends, I noticed that I would lie. I would overcommit constantly, all to avoid saying "No" to those I care about. In turn, the outcome would still be the same, I would deliver late or blow off the agreement all together. I realized that to care about some one is to shoot straight with them.

    Also, if you lie, self-deceive, in any other way try to insulate yourself from showing up, this line of thinking has probably wrecked havoc on your financials, speaking from experience.

    Now to the original prompt, the moment I realized my money situation changed was when I sent amazon gift cards with flower home to my mom and family just because…

  73. Drew

    Two (very different) situations:

    1) Right after college when I was living on my own and had a decent job: I was at the grocery store picking out cereal and I realized that I could buy whichever one I wanted and I didn't need to look at the prices. The difference between the most expensive cereal and the cheapest didn't matter any more. To this day I love being able to buy whatever food I feel like getting without needing to worry about the cost.
    2) Many years latter: My mother-in-law was going to need to move again because her landlord was planning to sell the house she was renting. This had happened before and rents were going up faster than her income. We decided to buy the house ourselves and rent it to her without any increase in rent. Now she never needs to worry about moving or rent increases again. We may even end up making money off the deal in the long run but really it will be worth it even if we only break even or take a minor loss.

  74. Marie

    I realized my money situation changed when I separated from my husband of 14 years just over two years ago. Within 2 years, I went from "two incomes, no kid" to single mom of a young child, with my mom as a dependant, and debt from selling my house in a rush.

  75. Avinav Sahay

    When I started having overpriced lunch inside corporate area instead of going outside for economical meal in hot summer 😛

  76. Missy

    I realized that I was a fully self-sufficient adult (at 22) when my purse was stolen and I was able to replace everything in it (including an iphone, driver's license, a wallet, etc) without worrying about if I could afford it and without worrying my parents about my "big city" living.

  77. Justin

    I worked Sales/commissioned jobs for many years. When I got my first salary job I mentally was not prepared for the end of each month. In the past, an anxiety would build as I would reach my commission goals in the last week of the month. Success or failure had a direct impact on my paycheck. As a salaried worker, that last week paid the same as th others. My body was still looking for the mental high of reaching my commission. Let’s call it adrenaline. I sought to get a similar adrenaline rush by attempting a lifelong dream of performing stand up comedy. For the last few years, I have worked up 5 minutes of original material. It’s a hobby, an outlet, as I only perform open mics about once per month. Nonetheless, getting those laughs is “bonus” I will not soon forget nor will I be quitting my day job anytime soon. It really sank in during those open mics, as I listened to many aspiring comics joke about having little money, that I was in a very different financial situation. My wife and I once experimented with me being a stay at home spouse. Turns out all the clean laundry and kitchen didn’t reduce her stress enough from her high paying tech job. So one day she was like “ honey, I love you being home but I’d like your income again”. We got a house cleaner and I still help with the laundry. Instead of not working we spend time each week reviewing different savings goals that my income can go towards. It’s an ongoing discussion but even with the above I am stunned when I think about sending $970/per month to my parents and it being “affordable” within our budget. It’s a small price to pay to have family come to my open mics.

  78. Katie

    My realization that my money situation had changed came in early 2015, when I added up all my monthly expenses and realized I was making $500 more than that each month! I had always wanted to go to Europe since I love castles and history, but thought trips like that were for rich people. I saved up my money, took 2 weeks vacation (one paid, one unpaid), and went on my dream trip that fall.

    I'm now planning my 3rd trip, and my attitude toward the cost of the various parts (flights, hotels, activities, food) changes each time. I still take the cheap flights because I'd rather spend my money elsewhere (lucked out last trip when my entertainment screen was frozen on, and I was moved to an empty row to sleep for the overnight flight!). I now stay at 3- and 4-star hotels and serviced apartments, pay for a taxi instead of hauling my luggage up and down subway steps, and pay a little extra for great experiences!

  79. Edward

    I realized my financial situation changed when I started to take an airplane instead of driving for a weekend getaway.

    I recently attended a bachelor party in a different state, all the guys attending took the 5 hour drive, I refused and took a plane.
    Who wants to be in a car for 5 hours and hung over, no thanks!

  80. Jessica Feliciano

    I don’t know if you all can relate, but this is my experience:

    My money changing moment was when I stopped having anxiety paying my bill when eating out at restaurants. I would get so much anxiety not knowing whether or not my card would go through.

    It had unexpectedly not gone through so many times when I was younger, that I would experience visceral physical reactions when I put my card down on the table.

    Even when I did start having more income spend how I pleased, it took a year of confident money management to get over my fear and automated reaction.

  81. Sam

    2 Things:

    1) When I started eating out at the best restaurants in town and not giving AF about the price of anything I ordered.

    2) When I was able to for everything on my first big vacation to Costa Rica with my Mom and not bat an eye about the price of anything.

  82. Suné

    For me it started when my boyfriend broke up with me and I told him that he must move out. The landlord looked at my finances and said he's happy to let me take over the lease (win #1) I purchased a few things I didn't have, like a couch and a microwave and eventually realized that I have a fully furnished 2 bedroom apartment (win #2). I planned to rent out the other room, which I managed to do for a while, but each time the tenants flaky and unable to commit. While looking for a tenant I decided to buy a car. With aircon. With power steering. Electric windows. And a radio. (win#3) I haven't found a tenant and have come to the realization that if I move out I won't be responsible for essentially two people's rent… The best part being that I've realized that I can cut my expenses and save 1/4 of my salary, just by being mindful of what I spend my money on. (win #4).

  83. Yves Farges

    This "Surprise! You have money!" is a myth. Entrepreneurs know "to the dollar" where they are money-wise. They spot, in an instant, excess cash. They put the cash to use by buying more inventory or expanding the business. When they run out of business options, money does start to pool. Pooling cash is noticed immediately … and it drains stress from entrepreneurs like a steam room or SPA session. Day to day costs are just incurred, not budgeted. I invest the pooled cash strategically and when the investment works, it creates more cash and the projects start getting bigger. You are no longer gun-shy when someone mentions a building project requires $12 million in land because you have 20% and know the bank will be in for the rest. I realized that the money was pooling faster than my projects when I could add a week to my two week Whistler skiing vacation and never dent the flow.

  84. Allison

    I realized my money situation changed when I was able to stop living check to check. I had started a new job that paid weekly (with monthly commission), which was very different than any pay schedule I had had before. I allowed myself to fall into terrible spending habits, lived for payday, and was in fear of when certain bills would hit.

    Now I'm able to focus on making quality purchases, versus quantity, and spending my money on things that I love, versus over draft fees and cheap beer.

  85. Sharon

    One summer, my mom visited Vancouver, and she mentioned about Niagara Falls. As we all know, a trip around summer could be very expensive, if you don't plan and make reservation a few months earlier. I managed to get flight tickets and make reservation for the best hotel right beside Niagara falls without worrying about the price. That was first time that I have the confidence of the future of my financial situation. And also, discipline does help to achieve the ultimate goal. I really want to say Thank you Ramit!!!

  86. Pat

    It’s funny you sent this email today, like I said I have been following your blog for a while and would like money to bring me piece of mind. So since last year I’ve been more mindful of spending, opened an IRA and started saving $. I was talking to my husband yesterday about this, I am surprising him tonight for his birthday. I am taking him to Central in LIMA, Peru currently #5 best restaurant in the world, I have been saving for this since January and will go tonight enjoy myself and know I have the money for the bill.

    In July, I’ll be seeing Beyoncé and Jay Z and I scored Hamilton tickets for Washington DC. I knew about Hamilton coming so I have also been saving since January so when the tickets went on sale, I had the $300 for them. Beyoncé however I didn’t know, but also when I dropped the $150 for her concert I knew I could afford it.

    So yesterday during dinner I mentioned all of this to my husband and told me we were definitely “leveling up”. And all it takes is planning (knowing what you want for your money), decision making and sticking to it. So yes my 2018 is pretty baller and honestly can’t see myself going back to just winging it and not having a plan for the things I want to do.

    Also I know I’m on track with savings, my IRA and a side hustle that gives me like 4K a year on top of my 80k+ salary. I am very thankful that I found you, I like your mindset about money. Money should be empowering and you should control it, not the other way around.

  87. A

    My mom's husband died 2 years ago and they had no savings or retirement set aside. I remember telling her 'no problem- I've got you covered'. And then thinking about our conversation later, it hit me that I literally make more money than I ever imagined I could and that I really DID have it covered!

    As a single female who was brought up to 'get married and don't worry about earning a living' it was a super empowering moment to realize what I have achieved financially and in my career. I'm not rich, but I make 6 figures, which blows my mind, and I can take care of the things that are important to me now without having to worry too much. It's a great feeling.

  88. Charles McCain

    My relationship with Money has always been a very stormy and tumultuous one. I've always had a "hole in my pocket" when I came to keeping my money. I'm always driven to purchases I regret, splurges I can never explain to myself and the only explanation I can make is I purchase emotionally. No matter how I feel, I always think that if I purchase a new camera, a new gadget, a new course, it will somehow make my life better. My results: too many courses still un-viewed and sitting in stagnation, gadgets I'll never use, too many cameras that I still can't master because there too many to even learn. I want to stop all this madness, because I know that eventually it will affect my marriage. All my spending drives my wife crazy, and I know she's always worried about how we'll afford a new house (if ever). I don't want to feel like buying something will make everything all right, I want everything to be alright so I don't have to buy anything. Make sense?

  89. thanawat wongjariyakamol

    good idia

  90. Katy

    I was headed to a former college roommate's out of town wedding, and my college friends were organizing an elaborate web of room-sharing at the hotel. I was coming from an exhausting 9-hours a day gifted and talented program and was NOT looking forward to sharing 4/5 to a standard room. So I said to myself, "I am a teacher. I'll never be a millionaire. But I am a grownass woman who makes a grown up's salary. I am getting my OWN hotel room and getting my first good night's sleep in three weeks!"

    When I got a better teaching job, it happened again. The moment when I was moving out of an overpriced, unsafe, gross apartment into a much better one was surprisingly NOT it, however. It was when I realized I never even considered not hiring movers. That's what savings are for.

  91. Zach

    It seemed my money situation changed when I decided to cover a meal and drinks for a friend when we went out to eat because he forgot his wallet and I didn't think anything of it.

  92. Alecia

    I have two distinct memories. First when I moved from a non profit organization making minimum wage to a job that effectively doubled my salary, I realized I no longer had to live in an unsafe efficiency apartment with a hole in the wall and immediately found a much better apartment. Secondly, when I moved into a management position and again doubled my salary overnight, I wanted a new TV and simply went out and paid cash for the biggest one I could find.

  93. Sam

    This is kind of a silly example but as a kid in elementary school, I used to love these cookies they would sell, 2 for a dollar. Whenever I happened to come across a dollar, it would be like, "yes, it's cookie time!" After getting my first part-time job in high school, though it was just for minimum wage, I recall thinking back to those elementary school days and thinking "whoa I am making 16 cookies an hour." The difference in scale amazes me sometimes, particularly given how happy those two cookies made me as a kid.

  94. Donald Ash

    Emailing my Dad (in tears of joy) to let him know that he would never have to worry about me defaulting on the college loan he co-signed for, because I paid every single cent of it…in full.

    • Trebecca

      ^this is my favorite one. So awesome.

  95. Jacob

    A few:
    * When I realized I had just left the grocery store and hadn't looked at a price tag and hadn't paid attention when the cashier told me the total.
    * When I bought a plane ticket and was more concerned with convenience of schedule than price.
    * When I went to a bank to see about a loan for a car, and asked "what's the maximum I would be eligible for?" and the loan officer laughed and said "don't worry about it, just find a good car."

  96. Katelyn

    After college, I moved halfway across the country for my first "real job". Previously in life my parents had helped me A LOT financially, despite me trying to be independent. When they came to visit me, we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant ($100 + person) and I pre-arranged payment by giving the restaurant my credit card. I loved being able to treat my parents and not worry about the expense!

  97. AG

    I realized that my money situation had changed when I was able to move out of living in with my fiancee, call off my engagement, find a new apartment and even pay for movers in a matter of a week. Until this happened, I always worried that I didn't have enough money socked away for an emergency situation. I have traveled, eaten at good restaurants, attended concert, paid off a significant chunk of student loans and despite this, I still worried that I wouldn't be prepared for a situation which called for a large sum of money to be spent very suddenly. It was only when this happened that I realized that I could relax "money-wise." I am now saving to spend for a month long vacation in Italy and I am definitely making this happen!

  98. Brian Turner

    These money situation changes happen over a lifetime. My moments are:
    a. Getting my first Leave Earnings Statement (LES) in the Army. Wow, look what I earned! Hey wait a minute, what are all these deductions?!?
    b. Paying for not one but two intercontinental flights for my wife and I using the airline points I’d earned as a road warrior allowing me to splurge on other parts of the trips.
    c. Paying off my mortgage and watching the following months as my bank account grew because those auto-payments had ceased. Zero Debt!!
    d. Purchasing and wearing a fine time piece I’d coveted for years valued at over $10K, but only paying $7.5K. There’s power and savings when you can pay cash.

  99. Kevin

    My moment: When I realized I had as much in my retirement accounts as my parents did, who had just entered retirement. I was 30. A happy and sad moment at the same time.

  100. Jo

    Being able to get my hair dyed professionally, which cost over $300, instead of buying a box from CVS for $10 and hoping for the best.

    It meant a lot to get it professionally done and to have it look super Hollywood glam, instead of college crappy. I somehow felt like I'd become an adult when I got my hair professionally colored.

  101. Mike

    I noticed my car needed a repair. I had a moment of wondering if I should just buy a new car instead of going through the hassle of scheduling a repair. The price didn’t wasn’t part of the process, just which option would cost me more time! I realized at that moment that I’d changed what my internal limiting factor was! (I ended up fixing the car as I quickly realized picking a new car would take far longer than dropping the one I have off for a day to be fixed.)

  102. Isabel Lovato

    I think I realized my money situation had changed when started searching for business class tickets…

  103. Justin

    I realized my money situation had changed after college when I started filling up my gas tank every time I went to the gas station without thinking about it (versus putting in only $10, $20, etc.).

  104. Sam

    Knowing that if I really want I can pay off my mortgage but it charges me only 2.7% interest, while same year my investment earned me about 10%

  105. Kira Jayde

    When I looked at my bank account and realized that, besides $75/week for my flexible spending (groceries, gas, fun), I was living off last month's paychecks.

    As someone who's been living paycheck-to-paycheck for most of their her life, this came as somewhat of a shock, as I didn't even realize it had happened until it did.

    Right now I'm just working to get that last ~$300 in order, and I still have a bit of spending to curb before I get to where I feel I need to be, but now I don't feel like I'm struggling as much as I was even just six months ago.

  106. Brett S.

    I realized my money situation changed a few months after starting my first job after grad school. I'm a big comic book reader, and in grad school I gave myself a very strict comic budget. The realization came on a day when I grabbed a few extra comics off the shelf and bought them because they looked interesting, without thinking about the budget I'd historically set, which had now become irrelevant since my income was much higher.

  107. TIMO

    When the first two pay checks of the month fully covered all my monthly expenses

  108. Jonathan

    The two biggest I can think of:

    The day we replaced our dying laptops with a pair of MacBooks and added an Apple Time Machine for backup. It was nearly $3k with tax that day. Mind you we did this when my wife was 7-8 months pregnant with our first child! Most people would have looked at the timing and said, "why now?" Instead I looked at our finances and realized we could buy nice things, even with the baby on the way.

    The other was about 8 months later when we realized we could afford the down payment on a house. Renting a larger apartment was going to be insanely expensive, and we realized that even with house repairs we'd break even in terms of cash flow in 5 years if things were ideal and 10 years if we had to sink money into the house. We were buying a house on my salary alone, too.

    We still have gut check moments when it comes to buying things, but those 2 moments stand out in my mind as when I realized we had "made it" in terms of making more than we needed.

  109. Michael Lowry

    One moment i noticed my money situation had changed was when I realized the wedding was entirely paid for, and I could just invite a few more people.

    Another moment that I realized my situation had changed is when for my wedding, one of my groomsmen's tuxes had not been ordered on time. Whether it was a clerical error on the tuxedo rental company or my friend didn't complete the order correctly, without thinking, I called up and paid in full for both rentals and had them deliver it to the hotel for the morning of the wedding. I just told him i sorted it out and didn't bother or care to ask for him to pay for his $250 rental. I just wanted him to look good and ha

  110. Tash

    There were a few things for me. I noticed when I needed something new (like bras which are expensive) I would just go buy them. If something broke I would fix or replace it immediately – no going without and saving first or making do with crappy old bras that didn’t fit any more.
    Also when my mum came to visit and I took her out for a nice dinner.
    Being able to take a taxi and be home quickly rather than taking forever on public transport.
    Recently my brother moved to my city (one of the most expensive in the world!) to study a masters degree. I let him stay in my spare room rent free and paid for food for the two of us and the occasional night out, for 5 months. When I was a student no one helped me out financially – I had to pay my own way, work multiple jobs, always say yes to overtime/extra shifts etc. It was bloody hard work and it sucked a lot of the time. I’m glad I could spare my brother some of that pain so he could focus on his study and getting on his feet.

  111. ana

    I decided to pay for an accommodation of our big family 2 days vacation (4 families of 14 people).

  112. Edward St John

    When I initially relocate to UAE, it was rosy for me but gradually, doors are beginning to open. is hard work any way and grace, hustle and grinding. sourcing for multiple deals and business one could run adding to pety paid job.

  113. keo seav

    I decided to pay for my holiday a week

  114. Jesse

    For me it's the simple, food-related things as Ramit offered for examples.

    Buying groceries and ordering at a (nice) restaurant without worrying about the prices and focusing more on what was good for me or what I felt like eating.

  115. College Student

    When, as a college student, I'm buying $200 a month worth of books / blog subscriptions / newspaper subscriptions with my scholarship money. Investing in my mind has made me so much more intelligent.

  116. Chris

    When I started looking up hotels and flights to hawaii for my whole family – my parents and brothers. Instead of my dad being the one to front the bill like when I was younger, I wanted to be the one to treat them.

  117. Dominique

    I no longer heavily monitor when my bills are due. I have them all set on autopay, including my credit cards to pay in full, and just check the statements to make sure it’s correct. I also pay myself by having a personal savings account on autopay. My mindset about money and how to use it has changed. I would fear of not having enough to make ends meet, even when living paycheck to paycheck, so I would struggle and worry more than I should. This set up and mind shift has helped me realize that I do make enough to care for my family and I can earn more and be a happier person.

  118. frugalJD

    I used to struggle; single parent, no child support, high cost of living, educational loans, etc. I switched companies and immediately had a $40K increase. I kept my expenses low and suddenly had an extra $1500 per month. Well, I started consuming like nobody's business. Things happen.

    Five years later, still with the same company. Now my base salary is about 3 times what it was before. I live in a lower cost area. Bought my own home–obtained a loan within 30 days (the home loan was easier than buying my car). When I moved here, I rented because owning was not an option in the higher cost area. My current housing payment (including taxes and insurance) is less than I spent before on rent. That was not an option in SoCal. So glad I changed my mindset about owning.

    This year, I had plans for some of my bonus (extra payments on mortgage, home upgrades, college tuition, etc). I still have half of it in the bank. My spending is greatly reduced because my mindset changed. I would rather learn something new than buy something I simply don't need.

  119. Rohan Bhardwaj

    The shift happened in my mindset. I was a frugal – who used to save money whenever the opportunity arises. And spend less in any way possible.

    Over the period of time, I got used to abundance concept. And I am more generous than before. It reflects in my spending's. I love to buy drinks for my friends. And it helps elevate my mood.

  120. Nicole

    When my car broke down and I got a $4k USD repair bill and I was able to cover it and still pay all my other bills.

  121. Christine

    My boss switched our payroll software and a glitch caused the bi-weekly direct deposit to not go through for any of the employees. She had to bring in physical checks the following week. No big deal, I moved money from my savings to checking account to cover rent autopay, and moved it back after my paycheck cleared. The moment I realized my money situation changed was when my coworkers were panicked about whether their checks would clear in time to make rent, and worry hadn't crossed my mind.

  122. Donna

    I’m at the beginning of my journey at 36. Finally getting to grips with my cash flow the turning point? The book ‘I will teach you to be rich’ thanks Ramit

  123. Lindsey

    For my birthday, I booked a prepaid dinner (over $1,000 for my fiance and myself) at one of the best and most interesting restaurants in the world, without a second thought.

  124. Peter

    When I could book 5stars and Palaces and the room with the premium Seaview or the suite while going on vacation or weekend gateway with my fiancée.

  125. Michael

    When I paid for private medical treatment for my wife.
    I didn’t worry about the cost.
    I know I can earn more.
    I know money is no use if you don’t use it for something useful.
    Value is definitely not the same as price.

  126. A Carrillo

    I had two moments…the first was when I learned about IWTY and started alloting my earnings appropriately oh about 8 years ago…now the second is that I am looking forward to a few more paychecks in order to approach savings in the 6 figures after I have easily paid my monthly mortgages, student loans, bills, and fun habits. The third moment will be having the capacity to invest in companies that support my ethical interests.
    I feel rich in life and meh…finances! Thank you Ramit!

  127. Ati

    It hit me when I realize this year I'm earning 3x of my old annual salary because:
    – I used your quick wins, negotiating and Tim Ferris' 4 hour work week strategy to get my boss to agree for me to work remotely for my job for 1.5 years while I orchestrate moving to and settling in a different country
    – I used your Earn1K course to supplement my reduced income with freelance assignments to tide me over
    – I used your free Dream Job materials and bought resume makeover and your email scripts for networking to look for jobs in a new country where I'm not a native speaker and I had zero local experience and social network.

    It took me 12 months to get a job in a new country, but it's so worth it.

  128. Diana

    Things changed the first time when I was able to pay for all expenses paid overseas holiday for my mum and dad for their 60th birthdays.
    The second time I realised things had changed was when I booked a trip to Antarctica with 2 weeks notice and could pay for the cruise, the airfare from Australia to Argentina and all the winter gear I needed without worry.

  129. Grace

    I can pay for organic free-range chicken breast as oppose to normal chicken breast. I used to think only crazy people will buy that, it turns out the quality is undeniably 10X than regular chicken.

  130. Kayll

    Since I automate my finances, I've been able to "not look at prices" for years on basic expenditures. However, I recently started looking into the tax benefits of HSAs, 529s, and maxing out my 401k. That was new for me. Never had the kind of money where I could even *think* about maxing those out for the year in order to get a tax break. Now I'm re-evaluating my automated savings to move money into other categories.

  131. Nicole

    When I stopped really wanting or needing anything for my birthday or christmas. I noticed that my money situation changed when these holidays changed from me asking my parents for some item I desparately needed or that would actually significantly improve my quality of life, to a more symbolic gesture to continue the tradition. Now if I want or need something, even if it´s expensive, I´ll just buy it myself.

  132. Abby Sun

    I never had to worry too much about money, not because I'm rolling in it (haha I wish), but because I was lucky. My parents are very supportive and paid for my college tuition and my (very) basic living expenses while I was in school. I didn't need more money, but I've always had part-time/full-time jobs while I was in school to enhance my quality of life as a student. A lot of my friends have always scolded me for my spending habits, because they think it's excessive. I really don't think I was being excessive. Yes, I probably could have chosen that cup of instant noodles over the freshly made bruschetta with prosciutto and ricotta, but why limit myself with what I can or cannot have when I can just make more money if I need more. The problem arises when I realized that I was spending more than what I was making (on a student salary + my parents' help) and I needed the money to last longer in order for me to be more prepared to make more money. Haha sorry for the long sentence, still with me?

    So I listened to my friends' advice. I planned a reasonably strict budget and kept it. It took lots of trial and errors and close to a year to get it right, but in the end, I was able to follow the budget and still managed to keep my quality of life relatively unchanged. The process was long, but it helped me realized how I can use money more efficiently/effectively. I prioritized my values and spent money accordingly to ensure that I still get to do things that are the most important to me. That also meant I had to cut ruthlessly on things that don't matter as much. It can make me seem like a weirdo at times though. For example when I go out to a bar, all my friends will be ordering drinks after drinks, but since alcohol wasn't on the list of my priorities, I would choose to drink only tea or juice (it's usually much cheaper). Yep, you read that right … I drank only tea or juice…in bars

    It's been almost a year and half since I started following a budget and tracking what I spend on a weekly and monthly basis; four months after I've graduated from college and started a stable full-time position at the company where I worked part-time as a student; 2 weeks after purchasing a brand new car and the ZTL course with my grown-up salary. I've stopped meticulously tracking my expenses, because I'd like to direct my attention to how to earn more money to support the lifestyle that I want to have. While I'm working on getting there, I think I will to stick to drinking tea in bars if needed 😉

  133. Nathan

    My wife and I talk about this occasionally:
    – We no longer share hotel rooms at weddings or other travel events. We need to decompress and to get away from broke mentality people.
    – I dropped my cheap coupon clipping habits and buy what we need or want, not what's on sale.
    – We started eating how we wanted to, which meant buying the foods that we wanted to eat not what was cheapest or on sale.
    – I bought my wife a car with cash for safety not for price. Truth be told I had a mini-panic attack writing a check that big.
    – I've started becoming the generous person I always envisioned myself becoming. I give regularly to charities, I regularly buy friends or family lunch/dinner without worrying about the price.
    – We realized that we can always make more money, we cannot make more time to spend with the people we care about. This also meant that I started spending less time with people that were not moving in the same direction I was, this was almost unconscious. My beer drinking, video game playing buddies are good people but I don't have time to sit around and whine about whats not going right. I out grew that.
    – I realized that we have more in retirement savings at 34 then my parents did at retirement

  134. Shingo Tanishima

    Initially, it was no longer when I had to worry about paying a few hundred dollars for a medical deductible. In my late teens/early 20's, I remember going to the doctor to get a mole checked out and my mom freaked out over a few hundred dollars that insurance wouldn't cover. From that moment on, I made it a point to save enough to never have to worry about that issue again.

    I realized a few years ago that my financial situation changed significantly when all the savings I made (from general savings to retirement) showed significant balances to where:

    1. If I really wanted to do something (within a reasonable limit of course), I could do it. In about two months, I'll be going to Africa for a week and a half to accomplish my bucket list item of seeing animals in a safari. Unfortunately, I may have to take unpaid leave since I'm currently a contractor but a week and a half without pay won't set me back financially.

    2. There is a substantial balance in my retirement accounts after I followed a passive investing strategy for over a decade (thank you index funds and Vanguard target retirement funds) with consistent contributions. In spite of some hiccups along the way (i.e. 2008 financial crisis), this strategy really does work.

    I do believe in a balance with fiscal responsibility. While one shouldn't be so extravagant in the present to where they will fuck themselves in the future, you shouldn't be killing yourself in the present either.

  135. Michael

    Small Example: When I realized I could afford to buy strawberry jelly instead of grape jelly.

    Bigger Example: When a mentor at the law firm took me aside after I had been there about a year and said "Michael, you need to get some real suits." Now, I thought going to Jos. A. Banks and spending $300 on a suit where they took my measurements was a lot of money to spend. Yep, life has changed a lot since the end of law school.

  136. Ricky

    When we bought our SUV, the seller asked about how we were going to arrange financing.

    It was very liberating to be able to say, "With cash."

  137. Adri

    I've just moved to Montreal and two days ago I was walking on the street and I saw that one of my favorite bands was going to play in the city. 10 minutes later I was buying tickets for me and my girlfriend. Next day, in that same street, I saw one more ad for an international DJ I really like and I bought tickets again!

    I'm from a small region in Europe where no international artists come on tour, for me, being able to afford seeing this bands was a huge moment!

  138. Lebbeus

    The mistake i ever did is buying drinks for my friends and for people that i hardly know just to impress ladies around me by that night…

  139. Nancy

    I used to panic when my checking account got below $50; then it was $100. One time a co-worker was talking about her balance being scary at $23, and I remembered thinking to myself that if my balance got below $1,000, I started getting nervous. Now I watch my balance and if it gets below $1,000, it's very rare. but I don't panic anymore.

  140. Greg

    A big realization was when I realized I can spend $10s or low $100s to make recurring annoyances disappear, and that this is ALWAYS A GOOD PURCHASE.

    Case in point. I bought 10 packs of charging cables in micro USB and USB-C. I have dedicated work, car, and travel cables, cables in the rooms of my house I spend the most time in, and chargers to go with these. This was less than $100 and now I never think about or worry about my phone's charge.

  141. Ann

    This question really brings back a lot of memories. I had worked as a server and bartender since age 15-19. Later as a receptionist at a cardiologist’s office making $8 and hour until age 22.I moved out when I was 19 against my mothers will and learned to make ends meet on my own.

    I knew which grocery store sold Tyson chicken a few cents less per pound. Bought the cheapest lunch meat. Bought $5 box of dried asian noodles because it’s worth 8 meals, and ate a ton of rice. Went to cash card gas stations to save a few cents per gallon. Didn’t step on gas while driving downhill to save what I could.

    One month I had unexpected expenses and almost couldn’t pay my rent. I was talking to my friends that I’d do anything to make extra money like clean houses etc. my friend took me up on the offer and I cleaned his 1000sq ft apartment for $100, which helpedme pay rent in full.

    Fast forward 10 years to age 30, I am now practicing attending physician.

    1. Car ac unit had to be replaced for $1000. Firestone was very apologetic and said I know that’s a lot of money but that’s how much it costs. I promptly said ok sure when can I pick up?

    2. When I looked at the room service menu with $20-$30 entrees and thought, hey that’s cheaper than expected!

    3. When I realized I can eat forgo de chao eveyday if I wanted.

    4. When I went to Whole Foods regularly and bought whatever I wanted instead of just going in for a slice of cake. Or looking at the clientele there and thinking how can they buy food this expensive???

    5. When I realized I could buy organic vegetables and grass fed meat without budgeting for the month.

    6. When I gave $150 to a Cambodian tuk tuk driver for him to buy a cable so he can have electricity in his house. It was exactly how much the cable cost and I didn’t have to calculate how much I can afford to give.

    7. When I decided this year I will fly to visit 6 of my closest friends spread throughout the country. In the past I saved 6 months for a road trip.

  142. A

    Being able to take my friends out and pay for the food. Being able to get clothing at my favorite store without looking at how much I'm getting.

  143. Caitlin

    I spent seven years living with a scarcity mindset as a student. This was difficult to let go when I finally started working full-time in a well paid job.

    The moment I realised my money situation had changed significantly was when planning and going on my first paid leave holiday with my husband:

    1) We didn't have to think twice about booking the activities we wanted to do – i.e. skydiving, a glacier heli-hike, a cruise of the lake, and a wine tasting experience.

    2) We paid for the convenience to express return our rental motorhome

    3) We didn't go with a budget motohome

    4) We bought drinks when we went out for dinner

    The biggest thing was that we were comfortable spending this money. Previous holidays have always involved concessions about what we could afford versus what we really wanted. Our money situation had changed, but so had our mindset.

  144. L

    When my car broke down and it didn't send me into the usual panic.