We are certainly better off than we were in 2001. Now granted, we were both in college in 2001 making next to nothing. Now I'm a graduate student and my wife is a substitute teacher. We still make much less than most. We are not well off by any means and when we left college we had 2 pretty beat up cars and not much else to our names.
We bought our first home over 2 years ago. A yard and a garden beats apartment life any day. We bought a new car last winter.
Our jobs are both pretty stable. Education is a great business to be in during a recession. Our income has increased enough over the last few years. It's not as much as we would like so I have a part-time job a few hours a week to make up for it.
The only debt we have is our mortgage and student loans. Those go down every month. We have no credit card debt. This is a priority to pay off every month.
We live comfortably. We don't eat steak every night but we also don't eat ramen noodles every night either. I have a budget but we aren't strictly bound to it. If we go over in a category one month, so be it, we'll cut back the next.
We can't afford cable TV. We can't afford $3 coffee every day. We can't afford eating out 5 times a week. We can't afford a big screen TV or other fancy household items. We can't afford a second car. We can't afford a lot of luxuries. But we also realize we are a teacher and a student. We shouldn't be able to afford those things. We live within our means and that provides us no stress about our financial situation. That's worth more than a boatload of money to me.
NEXT: Kristine DiGiovanni - Golden years turned to lead