Amazingly, I wasn't always a money-savvy budgeter that lived within her means.
When I first graduated from college I took a job where I made so little money, my rent was more than 50% of my take home pay -- and this was renting a room in a 2 bedroom apartment that I shared with a somewhat nutty roommate in a not-so-nice part of town.
You probably think I was eating ramen every night and watching TV at home with bunny ears on it? Well, that's what I *should* have been doing. But I wasn't. Instead I was eating out, buying LOTS of beers, traveling to see colleges friends who had dispersed around the country and adding to my wardrobe like it was going out of style. Where did I get all this money from? Yes, dear readers, I was lured by the evil credit card.
After I was let go from my job after 9 months or so, did I buckle down and live within my means? No. I had some contract positions where I continued to make very little money, and continued to spend on my credit cards.
After a couple years, I looked at my many credit card statements (if you have a lot of cards, you can somehow convince yourself the debt isn't as bad as it really is) and realized I was in way over my head. I got an OK-paying job at that point, but it wasn't nearly enough to make more than the minimum payments. I owed the equivalent of a really nice new car to Mr. Visa, Master Card and American Express.
Enter, stage left, my awesome family -- always ready to help out a child in need. They lent me the money to pay off my debt, and I have been paying them back ever since. Slowly. They insist that they don't care the rate at which it is paid back, as long as I pay it back sometime. I'm really lucky, aren't I?
The good thing that came out of all of this is that I really learned my lesson from all of this. I now have a budget that I stick to no matter what. I have an emergency fund to sustain me if I should ever lose my job again. I still use credit cards (for the airline miles - again with the travel obsession), but I pay them off in full every month. Actually, I pay them off many times throughout the month, because it makes me feel better.
When I look back at the old me, I am pretty proud of the way I work my finances now. I've come a long way.