Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Guest Post: The Breaking Point

Hi GMBMFB Readers! My name is Ginna Neel and I’m the writer of My Pretty Pennies, a personal finance blog that’s a little bit more personal than financial. Krystal was so nice to let me share my story with you guys today, so thanks for reading. I hope you guys have a happy Friday! :)

Anyone who is passionate about their finances has had a breaking moment at least once in their lifetime. Maybe it was when you realized you spent more on shoes than food in the last month. Or maybe you saw a compound interest chart and realized what that could mean in your life. Or maybe you got around to looking at your bank account only to find you spent half your paycheck at Starbucks and Anthropologie.

My breaking point moment was in the summer of 2007. I had just gotten home from a month-long European trip (see photo) and was about to start my senior year of college.I left the exotic city of Munich with a $5,000 study abroad loan and less than $300 in my bank account. When I arrived home, I was welcomed with a very unwelcome surprise. My parents called a “family meeting” and we all met in the living room, a room always associated with breaking bad news. My parents sat my sisters and me down and told us that we were in debt. Like, a lot of debt. My comfortable life had been a façade built on credit cards, and it was devastating seeing my parents so humbled breaking the news to us. They asked if we could help pay off our college loans, so I took all of my university loans in my name. I was hurt that they had kept this from us. I was angry that it had happened. I was heartbroken that my life was about to change. But I was most upset at myself for being a part of it and living a false luxurious lifestyle.

That was the moment where I started getting passionate about finances.

I went away determined to do something about it. I had a paid internship the next semester so I withdrew from school and heavied up my credits to the last semester so I could graduate in 3.5 years. I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at my church and learned as much as I could. I moved to DC after graduation determined to make good choices with my entry-level paycheck. Each month, I would pay off as much debt as I could, while trying to save at the same time and juggle living in an expensive city. It was so hard, but three years and seven months after that meeting in the living room, I finally became debt free.

My story is just one small example of what getting passionate about finances look like. My parents had the same passion and sold our home of 22 years, lived on practically nothing for a while, and are now also debt-free.Krystal has a similar success story of getting on the right path and changing her net worth.

So I’m curious: What about you? When was your breaking point? When is the moment that you got serious about finances? If you aren’t passionate… well, what are you waiting for? Google compound interest and see what you find out. :)

Ginna Neel is the writer behind My Pretty Pennies. She works in marketing, recently got married and lives with her husband in Raleigh, NC. Follow her on Twitter @myprettypennies.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Ban Clothing says:

    Immediately after university I got a good paying job in another city. I moved into a place with a bunch of room mates. We split utilities and food which was not a big deal until my 6 month grace period on my student loans ran out. At which point I suddenly didn’t make enough money to cover my loan payment and rent; let alone contribute to the utilities and food. I had to be honest with my roomates who were all making 6 figures whom I never let on that I made any less. It sucked… but they really helped me out and said I didn’t have to contribute to utilities and food if I was willing to cook dinner every night and clean. I ended up working on the side so I could cover my payment and rent but without my roomies kidness I am not sure what I would have done.

  2. KDNdollar says:

    After school i got my first real job.. (didn’t go to post secondary school, so no debt) – but each year my bank sends an annual summary of what went into the bank account and what left the bank account.
    I was 18 yrs old, saw that $46,759 ( i could not even imagine how much that was back then!) entered the account over the course of that year, and that $45,299 was spent/exited the account during that time perdio- ON WHAT!? where the heck did i spend 45 thousand dollars!?
    i lived at home, didn’t pay rent, didn’t have bills – it was vanished on STUFF.
    that was my turning point, since then I’ve purhased a house and within 3 yrs of living here have paid more than 1/2 of the cost of the house!
    yay for turning points.

  3. Pira says:

    Great post! I totally relate.

    Throughout university I took out school loans but I spent frivolously and traveled often in my last year and even right after – when I was unemployed and with a debt load that was only getting larger. I finally got my first full time job and worked hard (not hard enough) to start paying off my loans. About a year and a half in, I was miserable at my job and decided to go back to school. I quit and gave myself 3 months off before school started (bad idea) and decided to go to Paris for a month, something I’ve always wanted to do. I spent all of my work savings to go and felt guilty the entire time I was there, living a false life of luxury and spending the money that could have been spent for my school year or paying off past school loans.

    I ended up taking out a line of credit in order to pay for my school expenses and worked a part time job. I graduated this past April and since then, I have been working a barely paying internship. I think it was when I graduated that I realized I couldn’t keep going in and out of debt. I started paying off my line of credit vigorously (by working at my internship as well as continuing with my part time job) and finished by the end of summer. Now I can solely focus on my school loan and have a budget that will allow me to pay off 16k in 8 months. I feel great knowing that I’m finally in control of my finances and I have an end in sight!

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