I hesitated to write this, as I feel I have done nothing extraordinary with regard to my finances. I have been sucessful, but it seems like it was so easy that it doesn't deserve a story!
I graduated in May 2006 with around 27k in student loans, no money in the bank (literaly, less than a couple hundred), and $500 in debt to my dad! I had never even CONSIDERED an emergency fund (though, at that age, my parents were my efund).
I entered the "real world" and got to work getting my finances in shape. First things first, I signed up for my companies 401k program right away, contributing 12% of my salary and earning. In the first six months I focused on pay my non-government student loans, which were somewhere around 7% or 8% interest. I sent in checks in sums of $500 to $1000 at a time, even though I was in my grace period. By december, they were gone, and I was left with just over 20k in subsidized loans. I qualified as a half time student with my graduate classes, so those have been sitting there with no interest all year.
From there, I started building my emergency fund and opened a Roth IRA. I' ve also raised my 401k contributions to 15%. Right now, I have over 18k in retirement accounts and about 10k in savings account, giving me a net worth of around 8k. I went from -27k to 8k net worth in less than a year and a half.
Yes, this is a success story, but I think the real reason I was able to do this (without feeling like it was difficult) is because of my investment in myself. I went to a state school, nothing fancy, but I picked a challenging major and I made sure I excelled in it. I studied hard, worked part time, joined activities, secured co-ops related to my feild, and even earned an extra scholarship to study abroad.
Though I worked through college and had scholarships to help, I went in to debt to get my degree. Still, because of this debt, I easily secured an engineering job (10 months before graduating) making over 55k a year. My rent is low, even though I live alone, and I have been able to do a lot with my salary.
Now that I've spent a year and a half getting a jump start on my finances (and career), I'm ready to try out the expensive life on the coast. My company counts my hire date from the first day I interned, so I'm fully vested in my company match. I just got word that the company I interviewed with last week is in the process of making me an offer (please please please don't let it fall through!)
I'm grateful for my position in life, and I don't know if I can take credit for much of anything. Thanks to good genes, I excelled in math/science. Thanks to a good upbringing, I am hardworking and self motivated. These things together allowed me to pursue the career I wanted. And thanks to much good advice I found on Get Rich Slowly (and the rest of the personal finance community) my finances are looking pretty bright.