When You Have That Epiphany…

You know that time when money stuff finally clicks and you’re ready to kill it? Because you finally want MORE out of your life and you’re not stopping until you get it??

I do. It happened over 8 years ago when I, too, stumbled across personal finance blogs and then decided to launch one myself. And I’ve been more respectful to my money ever since! :)

And now, after receiving one of the best thank you emails I’ve ever received over this time, I get to relive this moment through fellow blogger, Mr. Z.

Tell me this doesn’t make you want to stand up and applaud!

I found your website about 18 months ago, in the summer of 2014.  I had been saving precisely f*ck all up to this point.  Largely because I thought the only reason to carry wealth was to brag about it and buy ludicrous items.

Amazing how reading a couple of posts can blow most of the misplaced shite clean out your mind, isn’t it?  It became clear to me that saving and investing wasn’t just for the self obsessed and shallow, leverage to be used just to get laid by someone equally as shallow or to fund a lifelong habit of snorting cocaine off [redacted].  Rather, it was a tool to be used for Security, Financial Independence and Happiness.

I had a long way to go, but it gave me the impetus to learn about investing, set about hacking my expenses to pieces, increasing my savings rate up towards 60% and thinking about what actually made me happy.  Perhaps surprisingly it wasn’t responding to emails at work, being forced to fit into a distribution (that doesn’t exist…) in a performance review or sitting on the loo separated by only half an inch of mdf from a colleague.

So I wanted to say thank you for all those years ago, assuming the position and curving your spine, making your hands dance across a keyboard and typing some $hit into the expanse of the internet.

Thank you for making it free and keeping it personal.

Your blog has actually changed my outlook, and that’s pretty awesome.  Just thought I should let you know.

Mr Z – www.thefinancezombie.com

[I have pinged this to a handful of blogs – it was an informative summer :) ]

Okay, so it wasn’t only written to me, but still – what a note to receive after all this finger dancing! It’s high time someone finally realizes how elegant these phalanges of mine are ;)

But seriously, talk about a guy on a mission. Who knows why things hit us when they do, but we should all be so thankful to have come across these epiphanies ourselves. Can you imagine what our lives would look like without Budgets Are Sexy paying attention to our money each day?? Can you imagine how different our futures would be still stuck at status quo?


Thankfully we’ve all had them or else you wouldn’t be uploading these words into your eyeballs right now, but thinking of how far we’ve come since is always good for the soul.

And today your mission is simply centered around that: giving yourself a pat on the back for not only having this epiphany in the first place, but more importantly *doing something about it*. All the books and blogs and learning don’t mean jack if you’re not going to turn around and take action!



In celebration of this most glorious day, I’d like you to print this out and fill in the blanks so you can bask in your successes ever since :) You don’t have to show it to anyone if you don’t want, but do keep it somewhere easily accessible so you can always be reminded of it. This stuff isn’t always easy, and oftentimes we get too caught up in our failures and how far we still have to go.

I had my financial epiphany in ________, and since then I’ve _________________
__________________________________________. Go me!

Mr. Z may have been inspired by our incredible community here, but it was all him on turning everything around. Just like it is with YOU.

Be proud of how far you’ve come regardless of the amount, and always remember that no matter what happens from this point forward, no one can ever take this away!!

You earned it and it’s a most beautiful thing. Keep going!

PS: Here’s mine – as if I couldn’t share ;) “I had my financial epiphany in February of 2008 and since then I’ve grown our net worth by $450,000, found a career – and community – I’m super passionate about, became much more minimal/conscious of stuff around me, and most importantly learned what money is REALLY about in the end: freedom. Go me!”

*It’s never too late. But you do have a significant advantage harnessing the power of time!

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  1. Chris @ Flipping a Dollar April 6, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2013 while reading your net worth posts. I created my own tracker in March 2013, and since then I’ve more than tripled our net worth (up 342%). It’s let me be a little more risky in my career, taking on a new role at a new company while not having to worry about the bills.

    Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 7:15 AM

      Woahhh – Go you indeed! I knew it was worth doing all those updates over the years! :)

  2. Downunder Sugarglider April 6, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    I’ve had numerous epiphanies – some delusional and some more useful. One of the more useful ones was in 2012, using one of your recommended budget templates and I began to track every cent. Opened my eyes to what I was spending and then had an amazing effect on my mental model to value my money and spend more carefully.
    Now at 50, I have been able to quit working for the man and am developing my own business – all with the security of having enough financial security to not go back into debt and sleep peacefully.
    Thank you for the work you do – please keep doing it! and helping all our young people to start out in the best way possible

    1. Downunder Sugarglider April 6, 2016 at 6:20 AM

      oh – I forgot the “Go Me”

      1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 7:23 AM

        Rock on!! So kind of you to say too – thank you :)

  3. AMW April 6, 2016 at 6:46 AM

    I had two epiphanies…1st in 1995 after reading multiple books (blogs were not really out there back then) and I used what I learned to pay off $200,000 in medical bills (which I happily paid because those doctors saved my daughters life). Then again in 2004 I realized I could double down and when we lost 60% of our income we were still able to pay our bills, not lose our house, not declare bankruptcy and at the present time have a net worth of $130,000…all on a middle class income. GO ME!!!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      GO YOU GUYS!!!

      And so wonderful on a saved and healthy daughter! I would lose my $hit if something happened to my kids – can’t even imagine :(

  4. S L April 6, 2016 at 7:09 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2010, and since then I’ve paid off all credit cards, increased my credit score enough to actually get one of those zero percent loans for my car, paid off all student debt, and bought a house on a 15 year note instead of 30 and still be within the budget I had set for myself. I have a six month emergency fund, I am saving about 15% of my income and spending, because I want to and with regard for what I want to do. I know that when I want to save more, I can just flip that switch and will be able to. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 12:56 PM

      Yeah you can!!! What a comeback!

  5. Lindsay @ the Notorious D.E.B.T. April 6, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    I had my financial epiphany last summer, and since then I’ve started actually proactively planning my finances according to what I want out of life, and begun saving for a big emergency fund so that I can leave my job.

    I’ve also come out of a depression, come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to get my dream job I spent 10 years studying for, started my own personal finance blog, gotten tickets to FinCon, started freelance writing, and met a TON of awesome people!

    Now I just need to sell my vampire of a house that I bought several years ago on a zero-down mortgage, that breaks constantly, and sucks all of the life and money out of me. Then I’ll be good. :)

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 12:59 PM

      Vampire house – perfect description!

      When we meet at FinCon I’ll buy you a beer and we can commiserate together :) I want to hear about this dream job too and see if any way I can help or connect you to someone who can?!

  6. Distilled Dollar April 6, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2011 when reading about how Ben Franklin retired at the age of 42. I mean, ignoring his famous political life afterwards, before 42 he was a hustler who prized frugality and work ethic. It was my first FIRE example and it made me feel like, ‘whoa!’.

    The 2nd epiphany was seeing how beneficial personal finance was in my relationship. Before 2014, I knew money was going to be good down the road after spending years reading everything I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize how good it was going to be right now to gain confidence in the process.

    We’ve solidified our goals and have faith we’ll execute because we have built a solid track record. Again, the confidence has replaced the stress and it feels good.

    Go us!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:01 PM

      I didn’t know that about good ol’ Benny – fascinating!

  7. Mr Zombie April 6, 2016 at 7:31 AM

    Well, you are a legend good J Money sir! It had to be said :) Sorted me out good and proper. Apologies for the swearing – haha

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:04 PM

      It’s not like you knew it would be blasted to the interwebs! I love the rawness of it all! :)

  8. Mortgage Free Mike April 6, 2016 at 7:41 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2010, and since then I have paid off my mortgage, stopped impulse spending and maxed out my retirement accounts!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:06 PM

      It’s a beautiful thing :)

      And you didn’t have to cheat like me and *sell* your house to have it all paid off, haha… I couldn’t wait long enough to be mortgage free :)

  9. Pengepugeren April 6, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2009, and since then I’ve amassed a large net worth, gotten rid of all non-mortgage debt, changed my mindset regarding money and started a fast growing blog. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:07 PM

      Congrats on it all! I don’t understand any of the words on the site but I’m glad it’s taking off :)

  10. Our Next Life April 6, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    Sitting on a plane, so I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but our financial epiphany was around 2010 when some books and blogs convinced us that working for a long time was optional, and since then we have seen our net worth skyrocket. We are now less two years away from retiring early after only about five or six years of truly focused saving. Pretty amazing what that focus can do.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:08 PM

      Damn – yeah it is! When you want something bad enough it’s amazing how much effort you put into it! We’ll have to have a blog party on that fateful day you guys quit! :)

  11. John Michael April 6, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    I had a financial epiphany last summer when i decided to shore up my resources, and really go after credit card debt. Still plugging along, but I’ve made serious progress and am on track to being completely debt free by the end of this year. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:09 PM

      It’s gonna be a great end to the year – congrats!

  12. Lisa O April 6, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    I had my epiphany in April 2008 when my Mother died and all the stuff she worked so hard for was just given away. I thought at that point ~ what are material possessions? We three kids were left with a nice little amount of money from Mom & Dad…..I thought that is what I want to do! They lived a nice life but they could have went on more trips, driven better cars, had things done for them but they worked and watched their money and left it behind to make life a little easier on the kids. It really gave me a different respect for money and an understanding about financial freedom. The little amount is still working for me and will probably be passed on to my children ~ God Willing!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:12 PM

      Awwww what a great takeaway and idea to pass forward :) Parents constantly surprise me with their generousity and wisdom and can only hope I too will be able to pass on both as my kids grow up over time… Must be so hard to lose a mother too, I’m sorry you had to go through all that :(

  13. John Michael April 6, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    P.S., love the podcasts,,,, keep’em rolling!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:13 PM

      Hey, thanks! We were just recording another one about an hour ago :) Glad you’re liking!

  14. Fervent Finance April 6, 2016 at 9:58 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2014 when I discovered financial independence. Since then I’ve cut my expenses, starting maxing out all tax advantaged accounts open to me, and stopped messing around with individual stocks and only invest in low cost mutual funds!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:29 PM

      hah – you and me both! (though I ended up at low cast index funds)

  15. Brian @ debt discipline April 6, 2016 at 10:14 AM

    Great stuff! I had my financial epiphany in June 2010, and since then my family and I have paid off $109K worth of debt, helped others with their money and have taught our three children so much about personal finance, they are going to kick ass in their financial lives.. Go us!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:29 PM

      Just the fact you’ve got them to LISTEN to your $$$ lessons is pretty impressive! Haha…

  16. Larry Green April 6, 2016 at 10:20 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in August 2012 when I found Mr. Money Mustache, and since then I’ve destroyed $70,000 in debt and saved another $100,000. Go us! A special thank you to the new personal finance blogging community for helping me to see the light.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:33 PM

      MMM has schooled all of us who have graced his presence :) We’re lucky to have a great community indeed!

  17. PhysicianOnFIRE April 6, 2016 at 10:25 AM

    I’ll play.

    I had my financial epiphany when I bought a Surface in the fall of 2014, which had the MSN money app, which featured an article about some weirdo who calls himself Mr. Money Mustache, which led me to his blog, which led me to binge reading 5 years’ worth of blog posts in about a month.

    And since then, I better organized my finances, hit my FI number, and started a FIRE blog of my own. Now I’m a weirdo who calls himself the Physician On FIRE, or PoF if you’re into the whole brevity thing.

    Oh, and good for you, Mr. Z! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:35 PM

      Beautiful! Been really enjoying your new blog too over here. Good stuff, man.

    2. Mr Zombie April 6, 2016 at 2:44 PM

      Thanks PoF! I have done similar with blogs, read them like a man possessed and absorb all that juicy sweet information!

  18. Harmony April 6, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in the fall of 2014, when I realized that there were ways to not work forever. Since then, we’ve learned how to minimize our spending, I started my blog, started numerous side hustles, paid off over $40,000 in debt, had my third baby, and have been feeling a lot happier, balanced, and optimistic about the future. The snowball is starting to pick up speed and we will be so much closer to our goals by the end of this year. GO ME :)

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:37 PM

      That’s pretty damn good in only two years!

  19. Stefan @Mllnnlbudget April 6, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in fall 2014 during my junior year in college, and since then I’ve landed a job at one of the big 4 accounting firms, started and investment profile and recently a financial blog!

  20. Gwen April 6, 2016 at 11:00 AM

    I had my financial epiphany twice. Once in college when I discovered the concept of FI, and then again when I graduated and discovered working full-time sucked. Since then I’ve saved 50% of my salary, started a blog and made some incredible memories.

    GO ME!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:39 PM


      it does suck, doesn’t it? :) but you know what’s worse than working a job you hate? working a job you hate and not saving any money!!

  21. Paul April 6, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2009-2010 (back when GRS was relevant), and since then I’ve finally got my family on board, creating a net worth swing of an additional ~180K and climbing. No debt (other than mortgage, which admittedly seeing that payment deducted every month pains me all the way down to my soul). Just keep telling myself, one day I will be free from this self imposed slavery. Go Me?

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:41 PM

      Better to be mortgage-free and have a house to show for it than mortgage-free (like me) without one :) Though I get to enjoy the freedom from the chains way ahead of time, haha

      1. Paul April 8, 2016 at 11:02 AM

        As soon as my kids are done school I’m taking all my equity and cashing out. Finding a small cheap farm somewhere, maybe like 50 to 200 acres. No reason to pay these county taxes when they are finished school. only ~18 years left on that plan, then Ill teach myself to be a farmer, maybe sell all organic products to local markets and restaurants and live off what I produce. Stuff like that. I figure after spending my 30s and 40s in front of a computer, the rest of my life needs to be spent outdoors.

        1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:36 PM

          YES! LOVE!!! And I’ll come over with a nice cold six pack to congratulate you on making it come true :)

  22. Eric Bowlin April 6, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    I think everyone has the ability to be financially independent, if we set our minds to you. That was a great letter though and it must be a great feeling to know you changed someone’s life.

  23. maria@moneyprinciple April 6, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in December 2009 and since then I’ve flipped our finances (from $160,000 debt to close to $200,000 in new investments), have started a side hustle that is very different from my day job and makes me feel good, have made friends around the world I would not have met otherwise :) and have become a woman I can like and respect. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:44 PM

      That last part being the most important :)

  24. Joe April 6, 2016 at 1:38 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2010 after I discovered Early Retirement Extreme. I was planning to quit my stressful job and look for a new one, but after I found out about early retirement, I made that my goal instead.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:45 PM

      Yeah Jacob! I miss that dude…

  25. Stockbeard April 6, 2016 at 1:42 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2014 after discovering MMM. Since then I’ve set up a plan to retire before 40, opened a blog (http://howtoretireearly.net) to make myself accountable, boosted my savings rate to 66% through a careful tracking/reduction of expenses and increase of income. I have discovered just like Mr. Z that money is not about bragging rights, but literally about buying one’s freedom from the corporate routine, and that it is opening a path for me to focus on the thing I truly enjoy,starting in just a few years. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 6, 2016 at 1:46 PM

      Love it!! Thanks for sharing, man!

  26. Tawcan April 6, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2011 after reading Secret of Millionaire Mind Set and attending the MMI seminar, and since then I’ve set up plans to increase our net worth and our passive income. We have also become more informed in personal finance and investing. Started a blog about 1.5 year ago as a way to share my thoughts with other like-minded people and have been able to connect with various bloggers. I feel that PF bloggers are so supportive and it’s great to have supports on our to achieve financial independence. Mrs. T and I have always been frugal but perhaps we didn’t really know much about investing. Having a financial epiphany allowed us to be laser focused and have a long term goal to work toward. Our net worth has grown quite significantly since 2011, so has our passive income. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:38 PM

      Great book! Way to take action, man!

  27. Dana April 6, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    I brag I had a financial epiphany after a devastating personal loss and since then I have paid off my only debt, student loans, aggressively. I BRAG I am 8 months away from being debt free, and then Ill be focusing on amassing my wealth. Millionairehood plus more here I come!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:39 PM

      Keep going and being proud of yourself! :)

  28. Jason B April 6, 2016 at 4:16 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2014 when I reminisced about my cross country trip from 2013 . I realized that a lot of what I was taught was wrong. I also knew that I wanted to feel the joy that I had when I was traveling those two weeks again I started to slowly get my act together. This year I’m finally seeing the hard work pay off.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:40 PM

      I didn’t know that about you man! Love seeing you turn things around now to get back to the dream!

  29. Mrs. CTC April 6, 2016 at 5:00 PM

    I had my financial epiphany just last summer after Googling ‘financial freedom’, stumbling upon the ‘Stache and realizing I should stop worrying and whining and start acting. Since then we’ve changed our spendings, set an incredibly sexy budget and I have changed jobs. I even started blogging and exploring new side hustles. We are now using around 30% of our take-home income for savings and paying off debt, and we look to increase that rate in time. More financial freedom seems an attainable goal all of a sudden. Go me!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:42 PM

      “I should stop worrying and whining and start acting”

      BOOM! And now here you are – welcome :)

  30. Frank Facts April 6, 2016 at 7:31 PM

    I had my financial epiphany when I was in college… surrounded by rich kids! I also grew up lower middle class, but had a rich uncle/aunt, who were rich purely by the fact that they SAVED so much money. They didn’t earn a huge amount, but they spent very little. I put two and two together in college and started saving IMMEDIATELY. :)

  31. Hannah April 7, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2013 a few months after my son was born. Since then, my husband and I have tripled our net worth on a single income, and I’m about to jump into freelancing/stay at home momhood. Go me (and my husband!)

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      Nice!! Amazing how kids change things right?? Ours got me to stop wanting (and being proud of) being a workaholic! I forgot what it was to LIVE again!

  32. Chris @ MindfulExplorer April 7, 2016 at 11:34 PM

    J you have the following traits that make us want to follow and feel connected
    – honest & transparent with everything ~ the best trait for a blog and being an awesome human
    – not afraid to call yourself out on your own bullshit when needed
    – a great sense of humor

    I expect several more A-Ha moments for both yourself and your ever growing legion of loyal fans.

    Keep being Sexy … in a total money sense of the word ;)

    1. J. Money April 8, 2016 at 12:45 PM

      Thanks so much man – been enjoying having you in our little online world here :) And hopefully in the real, face-to-face, world too one day soon!

      1. Chris @ MindfulExplorer April 8, 2016 at 7:44 PM

        You make it so comfy with all the disco lights and comfy lounge seating, we all want to stay around for the party here :) Yes to a meet in the human realm

  33. Colin April 11, 2016 at 11:59 AM

    I had my financial epiphany in 2013 when I thought I was about to be laid off, and since then I’ve bought 2 investment properties, gotten married to a like-minded woman, set a goal of total financial independence in 20 years, started working with a financial planner toward that goal, boosted our savings to over 50%, and set a date to quit my job. Go us!

    1. J. Money April 11, 2016 at 2:12 PM

      Absolutely beautiful! Congrats, man!

  34. Mrs. PIE April 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM

    I Can’t believe I only just spotted this post! My epiphany was slooow. It came in fits and starts, only to be fully formed a few months ago

    1. J. Money April 21, 2016 at 4:03 PM

      Hey – $$$ posts never go stale, welcome to the convo :)

  35. weenie April 22, 2016 at 7:54 AM

    My financial epiphany was in 2014 when I stumbled upon MMM and ERE. ERE was too ‘extreme’, MMM gave me some ideas but I spent the most time reading your back catalogue of posts because, well, you made saving and investing sound like it was fun! :-)

    Since then, I set up my own blog (which has just celebrated 2 years), stopped being an unnecessary consumer, increased my net worth by 65% and last month, my savings rate was over 60%! Go me!

    1. J. Money April 24, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      Wowww look at you go!! I had no idea you spent so much time on my site when you stumbled across it – thx for making my day! Always an honor being named next to ERE and MMM in the blogging world :) Congrats on two years!!

  36. naughtygrog April 25, 2016 at 9:59 AM

    My financial epiphany is ongoing and only kicked off 3 months ago. But in that 3 months I’ve managed to get things moving in a much better direction. We paid off a nearly 600.00 payday loan and have tracked every dime spent in the last 3 months. We are in the process of building a budget. This has been a process because we had no earthly idea what we were spending but we should have it locked down this upcoming month. I’m super excited to say that in that 3 months we’ve managed to SAVE just south of 400 bucks. This would have been completely unheard of 6 months ago. Thanks for your help!

    Timothy & Jennifer

    1. J. Money April 25, 2016 at 1:49 PM

      Holy $hit man – you guys are doing so well!!! Way to finally take control of it! And smart to kill that payday loan first too – those things are nasty…

      I want an update in another 3 months so I can continue congratulating you :)

  37. Jasmine May 20, 2016 at 2:49 PM

    Great motivational article and comments. I actually started my FI journey through motivational blogs like Milk the Pigeon and Brian Kim, and from there realized that there was no reason I couldn’t live the life I wanted. So I got serious about my finances last year and started putting everything into getting out of debt. From then I’ve paid off around $10,000 combined in credit card and student loan debt and should be able to pay off the rest in two years at most. I’ve been socking away money in my 401K as well, and while not much now it’s certainly growing. My next goal is to max out my 401K every year.

    1. J. Money May 23, 2016 at 2:07 PM

      It’s a beautiful thing!!! Keep going – you can do it! :)


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