For me it's a sense of security now.
Before all this and the kids even, I got caught in the dot com bubble and for around 2-3 yrs i'd work at a job for 6-8 weeks, be let go, take me 4-6m to find another job...6-8 weeks and let go...etc.
Then I worked for verizon dsl *customer service* (I'm in IT) for several months and was let go because they were closing the call center, and then I finally got a job at a lawfirm when I was 5m PG with DS#1. the firm "manager" would scream "you are too effing fat to fit behind the effing desk" and "you are too effing stupid to fix the effing computers" etc. every day, all day....and he did this sort of thing to everyone not just me.
They also paid me 23K a year for the abuse and worked me 80hrs a week. I sent out resumes like a mad man, and still got no callbacks for 3 years!
I started working at my previous job when I was 6m preg with #2, and a year later I was going through a messy divorce. I had a 99 kia that was in desperate need of major work however the KBB value of my car in excellent condition was barely more than a set of new tires. we had around 8K in debt that quickly went to around 16K with me taking cash advance (I had to ask how!) for my lawyer and ex running up a bunch too. I got stuck with the house since ex couldn't afford it on his salary (1600/mth takehome, ordered to pay 500/mth in CS) and still live there.
I also coughed up around 30K in legal stuffs for the divorce in the course of 18~ months.
I started taking on more and more and more work, accepting anything and everything they asked me to do, working 20hrs a day most days, all weekend, traveling to portland and missing out on time with the kids...etc. all because I was scared i'd lose my job and be SOL. I have no family here and nowhere to go. my ex would have jumped at the chance to bury me (and tried to, obviously based on legal drama. the 30K was all me just responding to his filings against me!) and take the kids.
Now I have a brand new car (well, a year I think? it's a 2012 tho) and I only have a car payment because i'm trying to rebuild credit. I have NO credit card debt. I have around 45K in savings/investments right now.
I've done the math and between unemployment and child support - if I lost my job TODAY I could easily make it 2yrs, and probably 3+ years without working if I was frugal.
I'm currently putting away about half my salary every month. and i've been splurging lately and bought a upright freezer and a dyson...lol.
I (for once in my life) feel like I can say NO when projects come up that I otherwise might have volunteered to do, or work all weekend or all night to accomplish. and by NO I mean "um, how about we schedule this in 3 weeks when I can do it during normal hours?" not a flat out no. LOL.
and i'm not constantly on edge worrying about losing my job or not being able to feed my kids.
I still live on what I USED to make (45K a year, roughly) and put everything else aside, and daycare is STILL my biggest expense at 700/mth....but used to be 1300 before both kids started school. if I was unemployed obviously that expense would disappear.
It makes me feel good I have a buffer rather than a black hole, and that if I did lose my job I could live on considerably less with ease. I actually kept my ex and I in food on under 30K a year while paying 900/mth for apartment and 280/mth for his car payment.
I was pretty close to homeless a few times and grew up poor and hungry. Having kids makes it even scarier and we were pretty broke up until the divorce when life did a full 180 for me. Once all the drama was over anyway.....but I was scared ALL THE TIME worried about where i'd come up with money for lawyer AND food.
I'm SOOOO much more relaxed now. I feel like whatever happens, I have us covered and most importantly I have my boys covered. And I don't have to KILL myself trying to keep us safe and fed and sheltered anymore.