Eight and a half years where one of two paycheques each month went to my loans. Because that's what a loan is, it's an amount of money that you borrow, and that you're expected to pay back, with interest.
Four jobs: one retail, one mail room, one that I'd rather have stabbed myself in the eye than go to every day for four years, and one I enjoy and where I use what I've learned in university on a daily basis. Because sometimes you have to do what you need to, before you can do what you want to.
Am I working "in my field?" Technically no, but as I said above, I use the skills I learned in university all the time. I have a job where I research, write, communicate, negotiate, and problem solve daily - all the skills I enjoyed using as an academic. I'm not saying I'd keep going to work if I won $50M, but as working for a living goes, I'm finally in a good place now. Because good things come to those who work for them (although sometimes it doesn't feel like you'll ever get there).
I've worked hard. I've paid off my loans a year before they were due. I've gone without some things I'd have liked to have. I haven't travelled as much or as far as I wanted to. But I've also slowly grown my collection. I've gone to the MLP Fair every year and saved my pony money to spend there. I've bought a house that I love and that I can afford. Because life is like that, ups and downs, good times and bad.
That's why I feel it's so important to stick to your budget as a collector (as a human!)? The fact that I have more disposable income now is not going to change that. My only debt now is my mortgage and I want to keep it that way. That paycheque is going into savings now. I want to retire early. I want to do a few things around the house. I want to have more emergency savings than I have now and more savings generally. I want to give more to causes that mean something to me.
But first...one paycheque...one full paycheque is getting spent. On whatever the hell I want for myself. It won't be entirely on ponies (a lot will be on ponies) but it will be fun.
You're damn right I'm celebrating!