I started using Mint in November of 2008 to track my finances. I was about seven months into my first job out of college (and my first real job where I wasn’t paid some paltry hourly amount) and had been completely irresponsible about my spending even before I’d started that job. The job just exacerbated it because it made me feel like I had money. I had credit card debt, student loans, and my rent was nearly half my monthly take home. As you can see, I had negative net worth.
Around the end of 2009 I stopped using Mint and let my account information lapse; nearly two years passed before I’d use Mint again (see the boxed area on the graph—the numbers are the same because they couldn’t update). Two years of, “We should really stop eating/drinking out so much,” and “I should stop buying clothes I never wear,” and “We should save up for really big trips instead of blowing money going out every weekend,” and so on. Two years of talking out my ass and never taking action.
November of last year I updated my information and started using Mint again. I started reading tips about saving money, which lead me to a host of simple living and minimalist blogs. I don’t know if I was finally mature enough or it was something about their message (probably a little of both), but it finally clicked. And now I look at my nice little net worth graph and I’m pretty happy with it.
From time to time I catch myself comparing my situation to others’. Other people my age have a nice chunk of savings. My brothers owned their own places at my age. I have to remind myself that my life and my values aren’t the same as theirs. There’s no point feeling like shit about not owning a house when I don’t even want a house. And going on those vacations might have set me back in terms of paying off debts sooner, but I wouldn’t trade the insight and perspective I gained from those travels for anything.
Hell, I’d probably still be spending money on small dumb shit if it wasn’t for traveling. But I could go on for ages about that, so I’ll just stop now. I’m in a good place now.