I'm so glad I live in a country where the origin of your birth does not necessarily dictate your station in life. In the United States, we do not have a caste system and we offer free education to all. As a result, a welfare mother's son can grow up to become president.
However, the downside to this freedom is that people often believe because we are not limited to a class system, we are entitled to live as well as anyone else, regardless of our income. Often, I witness individuals who I believe cannot really afford it, indulging in what I would think should be luxuries on a regular basis. Eating out, taking trips, decorating their homes, purchasing new clothing. None of these things are necessities for most individuals in the U.S. as they already have a kitchen full of food, a closet full of clothes, and sufficient furnishings as to be comfortable. Trips are nice but if you cannot afford it, you shouldn't take one. It's no wonder we are in a credit card crisis because we are spending more than we are making and don't see a problem with it.
What we need to do is rethink needs and wants. Sure, it's nice to have a brand new wardrobe or to not have to cook a meal, but when you do not have the money to pay for it, you are not entitled to it. Yes, the neighbors might be enjoying a brand new German sports car and just got back from six weeks in Italy. However, it doesn't mean we have a right to the same luxuries. Life's not fair; deal with it.
And while we're dealing with it, we can plan nice dinners at home, take excursions in our surrounding area (such as hiking, visiting a museum, discovering a free cultural fair, even exploring a large library, watch a high school football or basketball game). We should plan an occasional dinner out; it can be something to save for and look forward to. In the meantime, we can pack our lunches, meet a friend or coworker at a park, and take a much needed walk on a nice day. If we feel we need to buy something new for the house, have a yard sale to help finance it (most of us have far more than we need anyway), and then make an adventure of it by haunting consignment, thrift, and discount stores until we find what we truly need at a good value.
I've read studies that say the majority of individuals in the U.S. consider themselves to be part of the middle class. However, the numbers for a lot of people do not add up to a middle class income. So why are we living as if we are? We need to rethink our station in life, which means our income, not our value as human beings, and plan life accordingly. A few years ago a book came out, The Millionaire Next Door, that brought attention to the fact that middle class people often become millionaires, not because they earn a lot of money, but because they do not spend more money than they earn. They save money and make sacrifices. They buy Fords and send their kids to public school. They live in modest homes and avoid the temptation of advertising. They know the difference between needs and wants and make wise choices. This is how we are able to be upwardly mobile - it is not through our possessions but through our money sense.