I had close to a 6 figure salary at my last job. Very close actually, after benefits I was only a couple hundred dollars away from making $100,000 a year. This year I will be making approximately $55,000. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good living, but it's almost a 45% reduction from what I was making a year ago.
And a year ago I only owed money on my car.
I kick myself, because I've taken on $15,000 in consumer debt in a year. And really, it was for no good reason. It will take me longer to get back out of debt than it took me to get into it in the first place. I know how to live within my means, my mother did a lot to teach my sister and I how to be self sufficient and make do. So what happened? Long story short, I got used to a certain standard of living. When my income contracted, my perceived standard of living didn't contract with it. I can see how two income families who quickly go to one income, whether due to layoff, illness or birth of a child, can find themselves getting into trouble financially. I basically went from a two person income to a one person income by myself.
We're creatures of habit, and habits take time to change. Life however, doesn't always want to give us that adjustment time. That's why a budget is so important; it allows you to see, on paper, when things aren't adding up. Putting my own finances on paper helped spur me into action, and even then it wasn't right away.
I know I'm not always the most frugal person, and I have a long way to go, but I'm glad that I have the room to make those adjustments. it's a long road ahead, but the only way to go down the road is by taking the first step.