I believe you have misinterpreted what your well-meaning parents told you when you were three. You cannot have it all. You have to choose and every choice you make has a consequence.
For quite some time, my friends and family have accused me of being the fun police, it is not that I hate fun it’s just I do not think they (or you) should finance their fun. Do you want to go on vacation? Save your money and go. Go wherever you want, go exotic or mundane; do whatever you want, have a ball—just don’t borrow money to do it.
I have also started to develop this reputation of being a doomsayer. I predict you will die and if you have dependents, I think you need a term life policy. I also predict that someday you will quit, retire, or be fired from your current job. You need to have a transition plan in place.
The truth is I am neither pessimistic nor universally frugal. The truth is I now try and make every choice intentionally, measuring the benefit of the choice against it’s cost. I now try and consider the worst case scenarios for decisions, as opposed to the old way of thinking that bad things won’t happen to me. This doesn’t make me a pessimist, it makes me a realist.
I spend on the things I care about (within my means) while relentlessly beating down the expenses that don’t bring me comfort or joy.
I conserve my gas budget by riding my bike, sharing rides and bunching my errands just so I can spend a ridiculous amount of money on gas for our 454 hp ski boat.
I do not eat out much, but that allows me to very happily to triple our grocery budget when we have boys in the house.
I have some expensive toys (like the aforementioned boat) but our cars are old, we don’t take expensive vacations and we don’t have cable.
We didn’t always live this way. There was a time that when I wanted something I bought it with little or no attention paid to the consequence of that choice. This is exactly how most of us find ourselves stuck. Stuck in a job we don’t want, stuck in a city we hate, stuck in relationships that don’t work. Debt robs us of our freedom and for what? Most of the time we can’t even remember.
There is nothing wrong with wanting something, even something frivolous or expensive. There is nothing wrong with occasionally (within in your means) giving into those desires. The danger lies in indulging every want.