Our friend the Deputy Headmistress has posted some good advice on living within your means, as well as several links to her previous posts on frugal living. (The comments are worthwhile reading too.) The DHM mentions the idea of entitlement--feeling that you just deserve whatever it is, you've gone long enough without it, so you're entitled to have it. If you're Polly Pepper stuffing the leaks in your woodstove with paper, that's one thing; but most of us (now) in North America, except maybe those who remember the Depression, have never been that badly off, no matter how tough we think we have it. Mary Ann Cahill's book The Heart Has its Own Reasons has a story in it by someone who remembered her own mother, in post-war England, selling her wedding ring to buy food for her children. That sounds pretty extreme in itself, and then you realize there are still people in some parts of the world even more desperate than that for food, housing and clean water. We really have so much here.
(I've posted previously about the Treehouse approach to frugality (the last time was here).)