This thread has really got me thinking. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents for paying for my college and loaning us money interest free when we needed it. We also owe a lot to DH's high income. We wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for those things. *However*, that isn't to say we would be in debt without them. My student loans would be bigger certainly, and we may not own a house, or would own a much cheaper one. But we wouldn't have lots of credit card debt because I hate debt and paying interest.
I'm 27 DH is 26 and though we're not where I want to be eventually in terms of finance, we're definitely on our way. Unlike a lot of you, we don't have an issue right now with taking advantage of interest free financing on things like appliances and furniture, though we always pay our credit card in full and always pay off the interest free financing before it is due. I rather have nice things that will last a really long time than buy something cheap that needs replacing in a few years. We would be able to pay cash for a lot more, but we owe my parents some money and I'm so anxious to pay them off I often do so at the expense of our savings (I've recently changed my policy on that though, we're almost done paying them back anyway).
We spend far too much to really consider ourselves frugal, but I like to think a lot of our purchases now will save us money down the road. My car is a Scion xA - bought it new because it didn't exist used when I got it (I had to pay 3.5% interest ::gasp:: so of course I paid it off as quickly as possible - about a year and a half). It has a warranty (great, since DH is no mechanic) and I know no one else has ever driven it carelessly (except maybe DH
), it's fuel efficient and I'm going to drive it until it falls to pieces. We buy nice, classic furniture that will last a lifetime (maybe not the upholstered furniture, but everything else). I don't buy many clothes or shoes, but when I do, they're quality and will last a long time. I've made the decision to be a SAHM and hope that means I'll have more time and energy to cook from scratch, go to farmers' markets, and so on, and though it will mean a bit less income coming in, I doubt many people here would say it was a bad decision
We put away as much as we can into retirement savings and have big plans to increase that significantly soon, we'd like to retire at 55 like my dad. I try to keep down the number of monthly expenses we have like cable and cell phones (though I just gave in on the cell phones a few months ago - I would be so much more frugal without DH nagging me for things all the time!) because I hate bills that come off the top right away, and they add up to so much over the course of the year. And one of the number one things I think will help is in the long run is that we plan to stay in this house forever. We love it, it's on the smaller side but is in a great location, and our mortgage will never increase, and when it's paid off, we'll have all that extra money. Upgrading to a new house whenever you can afford it can mean you pay a mortgage forever, what a drain! I understand not everyone can do that, but I'm so glad we're happy here and can. Our mortgage was a bit of a stretch when we bought it, but our income has just gone up and up and now it's easy. If we had bought a much cheaper house we wouldn't want to stay in forever, we'd be having a lot of trouble selling it now with housing prices dropping, and interest rates going up, and our mortgage payment wouldn't be all that much less. So a lot of our decisions have been...expensive now, but I feel confident that they'll help us live more frugally in the long term. I have to keep reminding myself that we're still very young and we're way ahead of where most people our age are (though obviously there are plenty of people who have put us to shame - especially people with much lower incomes who have so much more self-restraint). And I guess the point I was skirting around is the old one that the poor remain poor because they have to buy the cheap boots and replace them every year and the rich stay rich because they buy good ones in the first place and don't need to replace them. Of course, these days, it seems high income people buy more and more stuff so they end up poor and in debt - we're trying to avoid that trap.