I had a conversation with my husband last night about our frugal endeavors.
We're both "Savers," but, in every relationship, there's a Saver and a Spender. On a Spender-Saver scale where zero is "Spends Everything" and 100 is "Scrooge"- he's an 80 and I'm a 98- so he's the "Spender". Ha!
Anyway, I read all these frugal blogs and see how we could be eating for $30 a week and turning the heat off & bundling up in the house and all these other things... and I see all these ways we're spending money unnecessarily. He, on the other hand, sees his friends who bought more house than they can afford, are dealing with car loans, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and thinks we're doing great! I grew up with parents who paid off their house when I was in junior high and always bought new cars cash, so I have a high bar set as the "norm." He's seen his parents cut corners to make ends meet, and still deal with health-related credit card debt, so his idea of "doing great" is living well under our means, with an emergency fund.
The issue at hand: I always feel bad (and often voice it) when we go out to eat. Whatever meal we get when we eat out I know I could make at home (maybe not as well!) for about 1/6th the cost. My husband says that this is our only form of entertainment (we very rarely go to, rent, or buy a movie, pay for a concert, or anything entertainment-wise) so it's worth the splurge. Sigh. He's probably right.
This week, while we were talking to an elderly friend, she expressed so much surprise that we were debt-free, had paid off our school loans, and used cash-only as much as possible. I later asked my husband- are we so unusual? Apparently so. I thought I was struggling to be "normal" and stay above water, when what we're doing- living below our means and debt-free- is the exception rather than the rule. I've had a very good, apparently atypical, example set for me, so my view is skewed.
Still, I don't want to be "normal." My husband is right, though, I probably can stop trying to compete with all the Ultimate Frugalistas on the Internet. We can settle into whatever is a comfortable place for us, for now.