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It’s so easy to live your life trying to catch up with the Jones’.
I find it so sad to see how people just max themselves out in terms of their paychecks and credit in order to have the newest or best --- typically just to impress those around them. 
I won’t deny that I’ve done that before — for years I spent all of my paycheck and saved none, going out to eat, buying clothes and shoes for my already-stuffed closet.
About a year ago, I got a huge wake-up call. The bad economy has definitely impacted my industry, and most employees at my office are working 32 hours a week instead of 40. While I’m grateful to still have a job, it’s tough to have that 20 percent cut in my paycheck. And it was even harder when J and I began looking for houses and wanted to put something down, even if it was just the closing costs. J also had a pay cut, as he works on commission and lost a large account. 
So we stepped back and re-evaluated our spending. For the first time, we set a budget. In order to stick with the grocery part of it, I began clipping coupons and watching for sales. 
What works best for us, so we both feel like we have “our” money, is to have individual accounts and a joint account, where we both transfer enough money to pay our bills for the month. So in order to maximize my savings, I began transferring a set amount of every paycheck to my savings account --- sometimes, leaving me only $50 or so to spend for the next two weeks.
But you know what? I am happier now than I have been in several years. I’ve found that living on less really means more. It makes me see the value of a dollar and really appreciate everything. Although I still love to dine out, I cringe a bit when a dinner out costs as much as a week of groceries. 
While on our camping excursion recently, J and I talked a lot about money. We still don’t have a lot banked, but if we don’t have the money, we don’t buy it. We have a mortgage and one vehicle payment — both which we pay extra on every month. We also have one loan for our lawnmower — it’s interest-free for 12 months, so we pay extra on it every month and plan pay off the remaining balance with part of our tax returns next spring. 
You see all kinds of money management as you grow up. I remember in high school being frustrated that my friends wore name brands all the time and I didn’t. But I now see how lucky I was to have everything paid upfront, and that my parents were able to buy me a car, pay for the insurance and pay the tuition I didn’t have scholarships to cover.  
I know that in 20 or so years, I’d love to be debt free and able to pay with cash for everything. I want to be able to help my children when it comes to big purchases or their college education. 
I may not drive a brand-new vehicle or have the latest style or model of everything, but I know that everything I have I own — and that’s priceless to me. 

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