I've always been proud of our ability to save money. Darren and I have been very fortunate to spend most of our married life without financial stress, and consequently have been able to save up quite a bit of money. Easily. I always wondered why more people didn't do it.
Enter "buying a house."
I like to throw around the term "house poor." Really, we aren't poor, but we are cash strapped, and here's why: I still consider saving money a necessary "expenditure" of funds.
Between pension contributions, deferred comp retirement savings, college savings, Christmas savings, and our emergency savings, plus our additional mortgage principal payment, we are "spending" over $1,250 per month. Almost all of these payments are optional (except our pensions, which are statutorily required) in theory; to me, however, I consider them necessary. And, since I refuse to eliminate them unless absolutely necessary, this means we don't have a lot of extra money sitting around. It's a sacrifice, most definitely. But it also has taught me some important lessons about fiscal responsibility and patience. It means less (or no!) eating out, no new clothes, and paying better attention to prices at the grocery store. It means we survive without the Disney channel, and I'm pushing to get rid of our smart phones when our contract expires in six months (although I'm not sure I will win that one!).