I realized something kinda profound the other day.
When a person makes a big life change, it isn't because someone told them to do it. It's because they wanted to do it. Deep down, they got some sort of internal motivation and they decided to make big changes.
And often, that internal motivation comes from hitting rock bottom.
My financial rock bottom was in spring 2012 when I wanted to buy a new car. I was a fairly recent graduate with no loans and a good job, but I was driving around in an old car that needed some big-ish repairs. So I did what I thought normal people did... I went to a new car dealership.
I decided that I wanted a Volkswagen Jetta (main reason: they're super cute!). I sweet talked my Dad into coming with me to the dealership (thanks, Papa J!). We spent the afternoon walking around the car lot with a sleazy salesman and by the time we left, my head was spinning with information about MSRP and leather interiors and gas mileage and monthly payments and tax, title, and tags. I had never felt so overwhelmed in my whole entire life.
I hated feeling pressured to spend my money. I felt so much internal conflict because I knew I could afford the $300/mo payments, but I just didn't want to! I felt kinda silly for thinking that way, because doesn't everyone have to buy a new car at some point? I remember breaking down into tears multiple times (yes, seriously) just from being so overwhelmed and confused over a purchase that was so seemingly normal to most people.
I had hit my financial rock bottom.
From that moment on, I resolved to to always stay in control of my money- to never let a sleazy salesman try to sweet talk his way into getting my hard earned cash. I ended up taking my old-ish car to the shop, spent a few hundred fixing it up to make sure it still ran, and then started hardcore tracking my money and throwing any extra dolla bill$ each month towards my new car fund.
Motivated by my experience at rock bottom, I scraped together $10,000 within the next year and was able to outright purchase a new (to me) car.
I really believe that I had to experience that overwhelming confusion and fear in order to realize that I wanted complete control over my finances.
But we aren't all the same. Maybe you know that you don't have the best finances, but so far, you haven't cared. And I can't make you care. You can't read about my rock bottom and feel the same emotions that I did. You've got to experience something like it yourself.