I wanted to clarify that before the downfall. I had a (or so I thought) $500k equity across my homes (all fake I know) and $400k cash or cash equivalent mostly in 401k or stocks. All of that was essentially lost and I was driving this 2003 Saab 9-5 (which I loved!) but was breaking all the time.. so the 'change' started for me in 2011 when I settled with all my minor debts ($15k across cards, medical, attorney) and then filed Chapter 7 to protect myself from the homes and constant late pay reporting on my credit while I attempted loan modifications. I then returned to work in 8/2012 and started gathering up what I have now. In June of this year I began my 5 year plan. I had not bought much or done much for ME in from 2009-2011 so the first thing I did when I got my job was to replace the 'on its last legs' Saab and my creaking Ford Expedition. I love cars and love to drive.
I used to go to Dunkin Donuts every day and be afraid my card would not go through. I still feel this fear come up today.