I actually go back and forth on this point

in terms of my own choices. I KNEW, early on, that paying for things via credit card was expensive. I KNEW, early on, that compounding interest is a wonderful thing for savings accounts, and a terrible thing for credit card users. I KNEW that if I put $5 on my credit card, I’d actually end up paying $20 (or $50 or $100) for that item. I KNEW all that stuff.
But when I went through my divorce, none of that stuff mattered. None of that even entered into the equation. I was in such denial about so many things, that you could have told me that rain was wet or snow was cold, and I would have argued with you. I think the thing that kept me in that state of denial for so long, was thinking that I personally could somehow magically stay ahead of that monster. Sort of like teenagers are convinced they’re immortal and know-it-alls. I had people telling me early on that I was on a path of destruction, and either I chose not to hear them, not to believe them, or otherwise waved some mental magic wand that made all their points irrelevant. And now here we are.
I think it takes more than education. I had all that information. I think the education is necessary, but somehow it’s not sufficient. I don’t know what the missing ingredient is, since a lot of people around me tried to help me see the trouble I was headed towards. Then one day, I realized “oh, dang, they were right!” Not sure what made the difference. Maybe hitting bottom. Maybe hitting bottom + hearing stories about how other people hit bottom THEN climbed back up. During my first FPU class, I was so angry – angry at being told that not only was bottoming out not necessary, I could rise above it if I was already there. I think if DR hadn’t related the story of his own bankruptcy, I would have stood up and walked out. But he had been there, done that, and come back from that pit. That was the only reason I stayed in the class. But how to avoid it 15 years prior? I still don’t know that one.