Soon after announcing my resignation from my current employer, a colleague emailed an invitation to a celebratory happy hour.  “Sometime next week,” she said.  “Maybe closer to payday?”
I didn’t think much of it, until I saw this article on the  Smart Spending blog.  Only then did I realize that I, too, was no longer living paycheck to paycheck.  Not all that long ago, I would count the days until payday.  This behavior applied to both my personal account, and the account R and I share.  I was perpetually out of money, and my savings were minimal, at best.  And then I finally started using a budget again.
The first couple of months produced little perceptible change.  I still felt broke.  All the time.  And it was a struggle; for myself, and for R as well.  He complained that we worked hard for our income – why can’t we enjoy it?  I kept insisting that it would eventually pay off, that we would become comfortable in our finances.  But even I had a hard time believing that. 
Eventually, though, it did pay off.  We are now carrying money in our checking account from one month to the next, versus a rush to deposit some extra cash for the rent check.  There’s no panic when we’re invited to a birthday party; we know we have the money socked away for a gift.  And when that quarterly water bill comes, we’re expecting it, and we’re prepared for it. 
On my personal side of the finances, I’ve seen the same kind of progress.  Just over a year ago, I can remember being on vacation with my sister.  We were on our way out to eat, and needed to stop by the ATM.  Before I pulled any money out, I had to run a balance inquiry to make sure I had the money.  Honestly, I can’t imagine feeling the need to do that now. 
I also realized I stopped paying attention to payday.  While reading the article mentioned above, I had to think to myself whether payday was this week or next.  Of course, I haven’t stopped paying attention to our accounts, and I am not completely absentminded regarding payday.  My paycheck is divided between and direct-deposited into R’s and my account, my personal account, and my ING account.  When my boss hands me the physical copy, I make sure to check that the funds were correctly transferred.  But I don’t wait for payday the way I used to – how refreshing!
Of course, it’s possible that my colleague wished to wait until payday because her personal entertainment funds had dried up for that pay period.  Who knows? 
All I do know is that I am much happier now that my life no longer revolves around my employer’s payroll schedule.