Gather little by little is collecting your story about when you had a financial epiphany at http://www.gatherlittlebylittle.com/2008/02/26/my-epiphany-time-for-a-change/.
My mother died a month before I turned eighteen. Overnight I went from being a teenager to a teenager responsible for a house with an acre to mow and all the monthly bills that came with it. I was always taught to only buy things that you could afford and I guess my nature is to be a planner and budget maker. So, I made a budget and lived within that.
A few years later I married my husband while he was in his last few months of college. We didn't make a lot of money but with it just being us two we had a comfortable life. We had a home built that was based on both of our salaries but found out when we moved in that I was two weeks pregnant. I made a little more than him, so we were at poverty level without my salary. I was determined to make it and tried to continually grow to learn new ways to do things cheaper or do without. I used cloth diapers, hung out clothes to dry, learned to cut up chickens, started buying thrift and garage sale items.
My epiphany came not in the form of doing better or that we were doing anything wrong. We started listening to Dave Ramsey and it hit me that yes, we were doing good and getting by but if we wanted to get past the getting by we had to do something drastic. We took a paper route and started getting up at 3:30. I started cleaning two homes. My husband got his handyman liscense and started doing some remodeling for people that flipped or rented houses. We worked hard- for 6 years we delivered papers. We wore ourselves out. It was not a pursuit of money, it was a pursuit of digging out of the hole of getting by. We didn't have debt, but we didn't have savings other than our 401-K. Now, we have moved to a less costly area and have a beautiful home, emergency fund, and comfortable lifestyle. We don't have to work two jobs and can have a lot of family time. We are looking forward to finally being able to enjoy traveling with the kids. I am glad we worked hard for a little while to make our future life better. Dave says to "Live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else. "