I have definitely gone through cycles regarding my ideas surrounding money.
When I was 18 I worked as a clerk at a call centre. I was a full-time high school student working 30-35hr/week making about $10/hr. Due to extreme pressure from my ex-bf I ended up leased a car. Including insurance, this cost me about $850.00/month. And that isn't factoring in gas, or rent (I wasn't living at home anymore) or food or my cell phone bill. So I got a credit card.. because how else would I be able to survive??? At that point in life I used (and abused) my credit card, making (barely) the minimum payment each month JUST TO SURVIVE.
I finally got out of that relationship and got a better job. I was still working and going to school (=~60hr weeks) but this job paid me $17/hr so I finally had a bit of breathing room. I moved back home and my rent decreased a bit and I had access to my mother's fridge. Unfortunately, my relationship with my mother has been in serious trouble since this time in my life but I have to thank her for saving my life back then... For about a year I continued to use my credit card and pay the minimum payment but I was much less dependent on it.
Finally, after 13 months I returned the car to the dealership, this forced me into collections which I evaded for 2 years. Somehow, when I finally settled with the collections company I only owed $7,000. After returning the car to the dealership I put every penny I could into savings for university. This allowed me to pay for part of my tuition and residence in cash. For that summer I was a save-o-holic.
Slowly my credit card company increased my limit and I continuously increased my balance with these increases. I also managed to max out my student line of credit in the first year. I worked at McDonalds and loved it but I wasn't making much money. I spent my first year of university partying too much and buying new clothes. I'm still paying for those choices.
In second year I got a sweet job at a bank and started making really good money. Finally, my credit card balances started decreasing! I also was able to build a small emergency fund. Then I inherited some money. I used the money to pay for my third year of school and finance a trip to Europe. Between my inheritance and my sweet job I was able to pay off almost all of my consumer debt prior to my departure. This is my high point where I saw the light. Paying off my debt and saving. I'm very proud of this time in my life!
After I returned from Europe (having stayed under budget for my trip) I got a job as a hostess at The Ex (where I'm working now) and worked like crazy to finally pay off my car loan. I was able to get rid of that loan in September of 2010 and I started funnelling money like crazy towards my credit cards and student debts. But I had struggled to find the job and racked up a bit of a new balance. When I was promoted to server in October 2010 I funnelled soooooo much money into my savings accounts and towards my debts. I was able to save about $7500 in my first 6 months serving. At this point in my life I was doing very well. I still have about $6000 in consumer debt but I had found out the benefits of an emergency and bills account that I could rely on in hard times.
Then summer 2011 came rolling in and I had to dip into my savings account. I was sooooo uncomfortable with this. It was also around this time that I started this blog and realized I needed to get my spending in line with my goals. I also made the goal to not go any further into debt for my last year of university. Right now, I'm very frustrated with my financial situation. I don't make enough money to put any significant amounts on my debts without SERIOUSLY compromising my ability to survive. But, I have a plan of action (which I've started drafting a post about but it's gonna be a couple days before I can post it) and I feel confident that following graduation in April I will be able to conquer my debt quickly :D
So where's your head right now in your money matters?? Are you happy, frustrated, confused? How has your relationship with money changed and evolved over the years in your different life stages??