I always know some politician is going to pick my pocket when they say something that starts with "In a country as rich as ours...." The advertisers have been pretty successful at convincing us that "you deserve this, spoil yourself!" Untrue! There will be some things you decide you need, but consider the cost. I take a hot bath every day because it helps with my back. I realize it is a luxury, but I am willing to pay for it. What kills us is the little luxuries we take without thinking about them.
When I was young I read Walden Pond, by Thoreau. If you haven't read it, do so. He layed it out pretty clearly how much of our lives we spend trying to pay off debts, which we mainly accrue so we can pay off the debts. Foolishness! His whole point of going to Walden Pond was to show how cheaply and well a person could live. There are some great insights and points to ponder. If he had been born in our time he would definitely have been a permie.
I remember when I was a teenager and my mom started 'splurging' and using plastic wrap over left overs, rather than covering them with an upside down plate. Plastic wrap was around for quite a while before that I think, but she didn't use it until she had weighed the cost/benefits. My grandma used both aluminum foil and plastic wrap, you could tell because she washed it after each use, dried it and reused it. I have never been really impressed with Dave Ramsey because my dad preached that same sermon the whole time I was growing up, as did most of my relatives who grew up during the depression. They would sometimes talk about some of the stupid things they had done starting out, pointing it out what idiots they were, so we would be smarter. Dave just seems like more of the same. It's never about how much cash you can bring in. It's about how much you can keep in you pocket at the end of the day.
We don't have a credit card, although I have gotten used to using my debit card most of the time. I resisted it for years, but it's so darned convenient!
We just bought a new place with a 30 year mortgage, but I figure we'll pay it off in about 10 years. We have always just paid cash for what we needed and if we couldn't pay for it, we didn't get it. I think we once had to buy a used car on payments, but we paid it off within a couple months. Most people in this country don't know how to live poor and live well. I'm surprised at the number of people who don't know how to cook from scratch. Shop the outside edge of the grocery store, haunt the thrift stores and garage sales. There are far more 'good ideas' than you can afford. If something is convenient, you're probably paying for it in higher cost and lower nutrition. I'm not sure my kids really knew what cold cereal was.
Around 1990 My wife and I were living in the suburbs of Chicago when our fifth kid was born. I was going to school to get my engineering degree and working with a bunch of engineers. We were living in a neighborhood where it was mostly Drs. married to lawyers with a small dog or at most 1 kid. My wife would get dirty looks from the 'professional women' in the grocery store when she came in with all our kids. One day a bunch of my coworkers came to me and asked "How can you survive, we all make way more than you, our wives all work and we only have one kid each. We're barely surviving. How can you survive without your wife working and all those kids!" I could have told them the Dave Ramsey saying about eating 'beans and rice, alternating with rice and beans'. Instead I decided to blow their minds a little further and said, "Well, I pay a full tithe too,..." That really blew their minds.
Years later, I was working in the bush for weeks at a time, usually leaving early monday morning and coming back Friday evening. We had a house load of kids, both teenagers and babies (teenagers are emotionally exhausting, babies are physically exhausting, both together are really rough). I made a lot of money, with a pretty good salary plus per dium and overtime, but my wife ordered a lot of pizza when I was on the road (I can't blame her, it's a wonder she kept her sanity!) and we weren't able to save much of anything. When I left Alaska and moved to the midwest, I took somewhere between a 33 - 50% paycut, but we made out better because I was home more.