We all get epiphanies from time to time that send us flying through the roof in excitement and wonderment, That Aha! moment that seems so obvious when you think of it, but offers infinite value to you. That ultimate truth that helps point you in the right direction, perhaps in your relationships, personal life or money matters. Here is a collection of such revelations that my fellow personal finance bloggers had about money – epiphanies that set the course for their personal finance strategies. Thank you, each one of you, for sharing these thoughts.
The most recent money epiphany I had was realizing I could save a lot of money by letting my receding hairline go. For years, I had been in denial, hoping that a miracle cure could revive it. I tried all sorts of things from shampoo that promised thicker, fuller hair to Biotin and finally, hair fibers that were a temporary fix. It’s been a couple months since I decided to cut my own hair. Doing this will save me an estimated $500 bucks this year!
Jerry @ Peerless Money Mentor
One of the biggest epiphanies I had around money was in regards to managing my time and taking on an abundance mindset when it came to making more money to reach my financial goals. I heard Tim Ferriss says “win the morning, win the day” when referencing the morning routines of a handful of successful CEOs, investors and athletes. I decided it was time to experiment. I started waking up at 5am every day in order to side hustle (freelance marketing) so that I could expedite my student loan repayment. This morning time became my most productive hours and allowed me to focus on myself and biggest personal priorities. In almost 3 years I’ve earned over $40,000 from freelance marketing, with the majority being made due to waking up at 5am. I’ve since repaid my student loans, saved up a down payment and increased my investment contributions.
That epiphany and shift in habits has truly changed my financial journey.
Scott @ Making Momentum
My epiphany was that I don’t need to be making a lot of money to be able to save. I used to not save money because it seemed ridiculous to save so little. But then I realized that it doesn’t matter how much you make or how much you are able to put away. I may never be a millionaire or be able to retire early but I can take small steps to make my future a little more secure, even on a very limited budget.
Robyn of A Dime Saved
I used to believe I had to work until I made it to retirement age, where I had to rely on my employer to provide for me. I then realised that I had the power to provide for myself, taking the power away from my employer.
Nick @ Your Money Blueprint
My big realization came about 2 years ago while I was halfway through college. I essentially realized that there isn’t some perfect age to start thinking about personal finance and wealth management. I had previously planned to tackle budgeting/my spending habits once I graduated college, but I realized there was no point in waiting. Yes, student life can be pretty lean at times, but it just made sense to learn good financial habits early on before I started getting regular paychecks that I could blow on poor decisions. Even if I was just budgeting for basics like groceries, rent, and tuition, it helped to build good habits and has made life a lot easier since finishing school.
Tom @ This Online World
Paying off debt as rapidly as possible isn’t necessary. Sometimes, it isn’t the best choice at all depending on your available alternatives. It drains liquidity, can provide inferior returns, and can sometimes be healthy to incur. I learned this after about 3 months of owning my condo when I attempted to direct money from my 401k toward a quicker debt repayment. It didn’t make sense when I could instead be earning higher, tax-advantaged returns in my 401k account. Carrying the manageable debt was the wiser decision.
Riley @ Young And The Invested.
I only recently fully grasped the concept of opportunity cost – the fact that a wasteful purchase didn’t just take a few dollars out of my budget and cost me an hour of my life to earn. Compounded over the years, that money could have been worth so much more and brought me closer to my financial goals a little bit faster.
Olivia @ Happy in the Hollow
I used to pursue the “Holy Grail” of investing and paid thousands of dollars to attend trading seminars. I strongly believed that I could make it big by taking extremely risky positions in the futures and stock markets. It took a while, but after I lost all my trading capital and hit rock-bottom, I finally realized my folly. There is really no shortcut to success in the markets…no free lunches. These days I encourage others to keep things simple. Buy the market. Use index funds. Minimize investment fees and invest for the long-term.
Enoch @ Savvy New Canadians
Mine happened when I discovered that, as an educator, I could contribute to both a 403b and a 457 – pre-tax! Even better, my wife is also a teacher and can do the same. Since it’s pre-tax dollars, it’s a huge boost to invest. The 457 is accessible as soon as we leave our jobs, so it can fuel early retirement if that’s the path we choose. We immediately figured out how to make it work to max out both those deductions and haven’t looked back. For 2019, that means we can contribute $76,000.
PFI @ Principal F.I
I knew very little about Finance before I went to college. In an introduction to business class we were given a sneak peak of each of the business disciplines by one of the faculty from that field. The Finance guy did a demonstration on the time value of money within a retirement planning context. I thought it was fascinating. It seemed like magic to me. That one discussion set me on a trajectory to become a Finance professor myself.
Brandon Renfro @ Brandon Renfro, PhD
My biggest money epiphany is realizing that the less you do, the better off you are most times. Investing isn’t like other things in life in that the people who are least active (buy and forget) are statistically better off than those who trade all the time. It’s not even a question of skill, even though timing the market is largely luck-based, but a matter of trading fees, buy/sell spreads and mostly taxes. Buy and hold is easy AND works best. How often does that happen in life where the thing that is easiest to do outperforms the one that’s hardest to do. It’d be like going to the gym once then never again. After that one visit you can be a lazy butt every day and then wake up twenty years later with huge muscles that make the guy who went to the gym daily jealous. That’s how investing ACTUALLY works.
Jarek @ Time In The Market
Investing money can save time and ultimately help save money. An example: For a long time, I struggled with whether I should buy a second family car or not. In the beginning, I saw it purely in terms of expenses and always came to the conclusion that it required additional money so I did not make the purchase. Then I decided that it was worth the money because I could save time by owning a second family car. Not more, not less. But eventually, the saved time benefited me by giving me the chance to do more things, like gaining additional income and spending more time with the family. As long as the second car costs less compared to what an hour is worth for me, I save money.
Alexander @ Day Tradingz
My wife and I had a huge money epiphany one day when we looked at our food spending for the first time. We found that we were spending more on food than on our rent & living expenses each month! It was a huge wake-up call for us to get our grocery and eating-out budget under control. We’ve been reducing our food waste, sticking to a strict budget on restaurants, and now we meal prep every Saturday!
Rich @ PF Geeks
This was our “big” money epiphany that put us on the road to pay down debt. In 2011 we were sitting in a bank lobby applying for a home equity loan because both of our bathrooms were leaking in to the basement. We had nearly $50,000 in student loan debt, a $100,000 mortgage, two car loans, and had just agreed to pay a few hundred dollars a month for a lake house that my parents purchased. At that moment we realized that we needed to change our financial story. We could either chose to face the debt or ignore it. Seven years later we became completely debt-free and it all started in that bank lobby.
Mark @ Financial Pilgrimage
It was a few years ago but it kind of hit me that there isn’t a single number, when it comes to how much money we have, that will truly make one ‘happy’. It kind of put the whole perspective of ‘chasing’ in perspective.
Another epiphany I had was that you can’t run your finances on auto pilot for an extended period of time. I had always tracked my income and expenses in a spreadsheet, and for the longest time, I always ended up with more money coming in than going out. Then one day I looked and my balance seemed to be going down. Through a series of small changes in my spending and automatic investing, and other choices, I’d reached a tipping point where I was no longer automatically saving money every month! I nearly panicked. However, the difference was small and I always have had a nice buffer in my bank account to make sure things don’t get cut close. That was the first time I really took a long hard look at every single expense. I made some changes and was soon back in the green. On top of the changes, I did make it a habit to start tracking net cash flow on a much more regular basis.
Michael @ Money Beagle
Mine came a few years ago when I was doing some planning for the long term. I have put together a spreadsheet detailing how much I’d have to invest and what type of returns I’d need to get to hit certain net worth milestones by certain ages. That same day I was doing my monthly budget and realized that tht individual monthly budget, while important and difficult to stick to, was a very small part of my net worth sheet. The key epiphany I had was that I’m going to need to stay focused and diligent for a very long time to hit the goals I want to hit.
Robbie @ EAT Money
My epiphany was finally realizing that people don’t get wealthy (financial independence, rich, etc.) over night. It always seemed like that to me, but once I started to really dig into how people got to where they are, I began to realize it definitely didn’t just happen overnight.
Whether it’s becoming financially independent, having a successful business, or running a profitable website, these things didn’t come easy. It took a lot of time and a lot of hard work. Even if you’re just the regular person whose made it to financial independence, it took a lot of years to accumulate that money and probably even some sacrifice. While it might look like it just happened because you’re seeing the end result, in reality it takes countless hours of hustling, hard work and doing the little things. Even the ones who have made it there questioned themselves and struggled along the way. Once I began to realize that people just didn’t “get there,” it gave me much more motivation to continue my own journey.
Clint Haynes @ Next Gen Wealth
My money epiphany was when I realized my paycheck to paycheck lifestyle was not sustainable and that I was being too complacent with a lot of things in my life. This also included a stagnant career that was going nowhere and would probably never pay me more than $40k/year. In late 2014, after talking with a friend, I realized during our convo how comfortable I was with my current lifestyle, finances, and career that I needed to make some serious changes. My bank account was extremely low, my career was boring/stuck in a cube, and I barely ever had any cash to do much. That’s when I started reading books, blogs, and learning everything I could about finances and investing.
Then in December 2014 I was laid off from my job. A bit shocked at first, but I had an inner sense of joy too. This was the extra kick in the butt I needed to get out of my comfort zone and also work on my career to have a better salary. For the following two years after that I worked on my finances, boosted my career skills and worth, and since then I have never got too complacent again.
Todd @ Invested Wallet
My biggest money epiphany started as a negative but turned into a positive. I had been working as an auditor for a few years, and the first several years after I graduated college were really frustrating. I wanted a job that would give me the potential for growth if I worked and did a good job, but I just couldn’t find the right opportunity. I bounced around a few different jobs and eventually came to the conclusion that I wasn’t getting anywhere and I needed a different approach. Out of frustration, I started a side hustle that turned into a full-time income in 1.5 years. I was able to quit my job and pursue self-employment full-time. This gave me the opportunity I was looking for and I could make as much money as I was able to make rather than waiting for for a boss or employer to give me a chance. It’s now been more than 10 years since I left my job and my financial situation is drastically better than it was.
Marc @ Vital Dollar
My money epiphany came a few years after I started my full time career. I realized I didn’t want to be in the corporate world forever, and I needed to find a way to get out of the rat race before I turned 65. At the time, I thought it would be through some entrepreneurial venture, and I stressed myself out trying to find the perfect business so I could quit my job immediately. I eventually realized I was too risk averse to just jump into the void of entrepreneurship and hope it worked out, and that the stability (and benefits) of a full time job were important for me and my family.
I ended up starting an investment/side hustle in real estate, and have been slowly building it over the last 5 years. I got my wife involved, and she now has her real estate license and can not only save us money on our transactions, but help out friends and family on the side. We were able to build several income streams, some active, some passive – real estate agent commissions, rental properties, and the occasional house flip. In fact, last year we almost replaced my day job income through our real estate side hustles!
Andrew @ Wealthy Nickel
My money epiphany came this year when I was working on our taxes and realized we only owed $60,000 on our house. I told my husband, “Wow, that’s not bad,” and then he told me that most of the money we pay a month barely even touches the principle and I was in shock. It sickened me knowing how much we were paying in interest. My husband takes care of these bills so I had no idea. This sparked a fire in me to aggressively work to pay off our mortgage. Our mortgage is our only debt, and we could save SO much money by paying it off early. My blog income has been doing very well so we will use this income to work on paying off the house which should be by the end of next year if everything goes according to plan. I think many people are comfortable having a mortgage (like I was) and don’t consider how much they pay in interest.
Max @ Tried and True Mom Jobs
My money epiphany was seeing the stock market bouncing tens of thousands of imaginary dollars while I was trying to save $2 on bus fare. At that moment, I felt a bit silly and noted to myself that investing was simply a lot more powerful than trying to scrimp and save. When you grow up poor, the mindset of scarcity becomes deeply ingrained and it took a good while to combat myself. That’s definitely not to say that saving money isn’t important – of course, it is – otherwise you wouldn’t have money to invest! But when there is technically your life savings being thrown into the market, you start to realize how “far away” money really is. What was “close” was everything else, including the my happiness and that of every living thing around me – so if I wanted to blow $10/lb on free range, pasteurized happy chickens versus the $3/lb caged up miserable ones, I should be able to, guilt free.
Lily @ Merry For Money
Mine came when I was looking over my expenses and realized I was wasting a lot of money on things that weren’t all that important. I took some time to figure out what I really valued and what added meaning to my life. Then I slowly started cutting things out that didn’t meet this definition.
It was eye-opening. A lot of times we just buy things to keep up or show off our success but we aren’t pleasing ourselves, just others. When you take the time to figure out what pleases you, you stop a lot of wasteful spending. In the end you have more money, less things and are happier because you are buying things/experiences that truly bring you happiness and joy.
Jon @ Money Smart Guides
My epiphany is that boring usually wins. Steady career growth will lead to higher income. Simple investing in index funds overtime will lead to compounding and significant wealth creation. It can be tempting to not “stay the course” and try to find more exciting opportunities and speculative investment ideas. The reality is that for most people, staying the course with a steady, boring approach will lead to significant gains in personal finances.
Kevin @ Next Level Finance
Time is more important than money. If you can find ways to cut your time (apart from trying to save a buck), this is more valuable in the end. For me as a real estate investor and author with a decade of experience, I learned this the hard way. In the beginning, I did a lot of the work myself. But as my real estate investment business grew, there were more properties to fix up and I needed more time needed to do them. Soon, I found myself working non stop. Finding properties, fixing them up and filling them. There had to be a better way. As my business grew, I turned my efforts into hiring contractors to do the work for me. My focus shifted on hiring people and managing the people I hired. In the end, it saved me time. And money. Now I can focus on being a real estate investor and finding deals. No longer do I have to spend my days fixing up properties. Though, I do still have to manage the people I hire. Through experience, I learned how to hire good, reliable, people and that is a skill in itself. I learned so much that I even wrote a book on the subject of finding and managing contractors.
Rachel @ Adventures in Mobile Homes
I had a huge money epiphany when I realized the money I’d saved in my 20s was already enough to all but ensure I’d retire a multi-millionaire, adjusted for inflation, even if I never invested another cent for the rest of my life. Conceptually, I always understood the power of compound interest, yet somehow, I completely overlooked how it applied to my own situation. Seeing it firsthand reinforced how incredibly powerful it is to save as much money as you can as early as possible.
Sean @ My Money Wizard
My savings started to grow faster than ever before when I made ‘saving money’ an expense category within my budget. I set aside a small percentage of my income to go towards putting money in the bank then filled out the rest of the budget using what remains. This small tweak to my budgeting strategy has made saving money so much more intuitive, and my bank account reflects that.
My money epiphany was that I’m extremely fortunate. I grew up in a family that taught me strong financial skills and helped set me up for a debt-free life. I received a powerful education, and have a lot of structural benefits that other people don’t. For example, when I was in high school applying for summer jobs, I had white-collar professional parents who could help me edit my resume. I have a well-paying job that allows me to save for retirement, and I’m able to save up an emergency fund to fall back on if the unexpected strikes. It was only in adulthood that I realized how lucky I truly am.
Allison @ Meet Fabric Blog
My money epiphany was during medical school. Whoever said they cannot be a minimalist obviously did not attend medical school in the Caribbean Island. For the first two years of medical school, I lived on 2 briefcases. Yes, those total 100 pounds of life belongings. All my possessions were in those two briefcases. Imagine losing them in the airport, that happened, but thankfully they were able to retrieve them. After the two years on the island, it was clinical time. During clinical training, I had to move between three states. Missouri, Florida and Baltimore. Sometimes going back home to Toronto in between. I was still living on those two briefcases. So when I finished medical school, I realized, if I could endure all that, I can endure a little bit more and pay off my student loans. Just 6 months after training, my student loans of over $200,000 have been paid off.
Adebayo @ Dr. Breathe Easy Finance
My money epiphany involved finding a newspaper article in a box in my basement where I was featured on saving money over 15 years ago. I had always been hustling during that time and looking for creative ways to make money. However, finding that article, basically reignited my drive to save for retirement. I sold my house, paid cash for a smaller place, and eliminated mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. I now save over $22,000 a year towards my retirement. The lesson, if you want to change some facet of your life, you have to find a way to make it happen.
Bryan @ Bucks and Cents
My money epiphany is that I realized I could retire decades earlier if I just gave up all the luxuries everyone else around me was chasing. I realized that spending multiples more than I had been spending during college (which was very little since I was on financial aid) didn’t make me any happier. What made me happy was free time to work on projects I loved. I realized that I could create my own safety net of financial independence so that I could go out and take risks with creating some new product or company in my 30s. Imagining a life where I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to was amazing – that’s the money epiphany that got me to chase financial independence.
Olivia @ Birds of Fire
I had a money epiphany when I bought my first house regarding the usage of leverage. I bought my house for slightly less than 20% down and lived in it for 4 years. The housing market ran up in prices where it was very attractive for me to sell. I couldn’t believe the offer price I received. This gave me a moment where I realized not only is debt not too bad but it helps you exponentially in upcycles. During the time I was living there, I never prepaid my mortgage, I made it a point to invest and save like crazy. When I sold, I was able to roll the proceeds into a new home and now I still have dry powder to buy a rental property or two. I think it’s important to be dynamic in your personal financial goals depending on the economic environment.
Kyle @ Millionaire Mob
When I realized that money and time didn’t have to be linearly related, my whole world turned upside down. I now have a renewed focus on building businesses and front loading the work so that my efforts could pay me in perpetuity. Realizing that your money can make money FOR you, not just buy you things, creates a powerful money mindset.
Cody @ Fly to FI
My epiphany happened when I realized why I kept on continually racking up debt, paying it off and repeating the cycle. I discovered the following:
– I would get excited about something I didn’t have.
– I would spend massive amounts of time thinking and researching that item. This would build excitement.
– I would spend more money than I made for that item and go into credit card debt.
– After receiving the item, I would get depressed and motivated to pay off the debt.
– Cycle would go on repeat.
I found that getting excited about what I wanted but didn’t have, and then building up passion to pay off that debt would tap into my naturally driven passion. It is like I was addicted to the drug of of these extreme feelings, which ultimately made me feel confused, depressed and massively in debt. When I realized what was going on, that helped me overcome these bad habits and learn to focus on what made me happy.
Chris @ Money Stir.
This brings us to the end of our roundup of personal finance epiphanies. Lots of valuable money tips have been shared by my fellow bloggers – thank you!
If you have any more awesome epiphanies to share, please let me know via the contact page and I’ll add them to this list.