We've had some tough financial times lately. They reduced everyone's salaries at work (mine fell into the group "only" reduced by 5%) and stopped matching 401K contributions. I understand this, because I'd prefer the company stay in business and if we survive, they'll eventually restore these changes. They had to freeze raises quite a while ago, though, so I've been holding at the same salary for over 30 months (well, LESS than now with the reductions) after several years of steady increases at this and previous jobs. Well I can't really afford that. I just can't. So I had to make some changes to give myself a "raise." More like a little plundering of Peter, but Paul is being such a bitch right now (and by "Paul" I mean "very few frivolous expenses, seriously" I mean stuff like Health, Dental and Vision!). I reduced (didn't eliminate) my 401K contributions significantly, along with changing my exemptions. I realized I hadn't increased our tax exemptions since Henry was born. The net result is that my take home pay today is about $100 more than it was a month ago. It's not much, and I know the 401K thing could bite me later, but having two hundred extra bucks per month right now could mean the difference between making it to retirement and fucking falling into destitution.
These are the choices you make.
I'd rather have to retire many years later (or never) than have my beloved children get a chronic illness without health insurance, or be able to clothe them when they outgrow things, or be able to eat healthily (kind of important right now as I'm living the way I am). Or you know, pay for hotel at CONvergence (done). Or every once in a while get a babysitter. IT's been a while for that last one, however!