There's something that has been bugging me since I've been on my own, making a living for myself: How do people live such extravagant lives?
I have gone through periods where I've run up a ridiculous (to me) amount of debt. I've (to be honest, WE'VE) worked hard to pay it off. A big portion of an inheritance windfall went to our credit card, student, and car debt, and for about a year, we felt comfortable. Not rich, by any means, but comfortable enough to buy groceries without worrying about coupons or sales, enough to take the kids to Disneyland, etc.
But in order to stay out of debt, we are now realizing that we need to go back to worrying about that stuff.
We realize that some would consider our daycare costs (as much as our mortgage) excessive, and we go camping, and we usually haven't stressed about it much when the boys need, or even want, something. We both put the maximum matched amount towards our 401(k) plans, although that amount is nowhere near the 10% retirement-savings goal we have.
We live in a tiny house. Our cars are old, and paid off. We split our schedules so as to avoid daycare for the older one. We have a garden; we buy our kids' clothes, toys, and books used at least 80% of the time. We buy some of our own clothes used too. We don't have expensive habits - no boat, no smoking, drinking or illegal nastiness, no naughty internet subscriptions. Since we've had the 2nd kid, there have been no vacations off the continent (those 2 trips to Europe were worth the debt, I still believe). Our new kitchen cabinets are coming from IKEA, at a cost of $3,500, as opposed to the $8,000 we could have spent on the stuff we'd prefer.
Just last night, The Mayor announced he would be buying a Cadillac for his father-in-law. He was also the recipient of a $900 pool cleaner Dolphin for Father's Day. Other friends buy houses in The City, and immediately undertake $75,000 remodeling projects. These people all have kids, too, so I would imagine their monthly stipend isn't much bigger than ours. We went to a wedding last weekend that was beautiful and amazing and more fun than I've had in years, but probably cost more than my annual salary. I know these folks could probably afford it, but there's no way on earth we could. I just don't get it!
Ok, I've got to run now, and stop complaining. These coupons aren't going to clip themselves!