Well, what I'm really saying is that most people's financial decisions have emotional motivations. Pride and ego is just one of many possibilities. Greed and fear are also common.
Those gazillion factors are always there. For your entire life. They never go away. Are you willing to do what it takes to make ends meet?
1. get a more fuel-efficient car? Take public transit? Here, a vast number of people take BART into S.F. and it's very cost-efficient over a car.
2. move into smaller housing? Rent instead of own? The break-even point around here for mortgage versus rent is about $250-350k. Less than that, you're better off bying because the mortgage will be lower than renting it. Conversely, if you have a house that's more than that, you're better off renting it for half of what the mortgage would be. Put the extra money into your future retirement. If it was purely objective number-crunching, a large number of people wouldn't be suffering financially and just sell their costly house and rent a smaller one. That can easily put +$1000 or more into their accounts each month. But they don't want the stigma of renting. HAH! Owning a home has outright expenses that renters never have to deal with. My property-taxes alone are more than my entire year's rent a couple years ago. Add in insurance, repairs and I'm looking at 2x more per month than renting. And I don't even have mortgage on the damn place.
3. Day care? Do people actually examine the numbers of what it would cost to raise a kid from birth to flying the coop? If they did, how many people would actually have kids when they compare to what they can comfortably afford? If "A job" and cost-of-living is such an issue, there are plenty of government programmes available for support. Rent & mortgage subsidies. Many employers offer day-care, but give a lower salary in exchange. Many cultures have solved this problem thousands of years ago with extended families. My dad lives just a couple miles away, and he comes over to take care of our dogs & cats whenever we're away.
4. future planning. How much money do you need to live a certain lifestyle when you retire? Do you have a plan to get there? Are you implementing that plan each and every single day? Every week, month and year? Given real inflation figures (not what the government reports) from the past couple of decades show that a couple at 40-years old needs to have saved up $500k in order to retire comfortably at 65.
5. time management. What are you getting for your time spent? Most people think "time is money" and that they are interchangeable. That's fine if you want to trade a fixed amount of your time for a limited amount of money. I see them as opposite, time is the most valuable thing you have in life. It's finite in amount and once it's gone, it's gone forever. You can't make more, you can't buy more. Money is almost irrelevant. Sure you need a minimum amount to live in our exchange economy, but one doesn't have to trade a fixed amount of time for a fixed amount of money. You can learn ways to leverage your time to make money that's not tied to you spending a certain amount of time. I used to pull engines in my racecar, bore and hone the cylinders, turn pistons on a lathe, make my own wiring-harnesses and program the EFI myself because it would cost me more in dollars than what my time can earn. Now, I don't bat an eye at cutting a cheque because my time is worth more than that.
Most people know the gospel that CPAs and CFPs are paid to teach:
1. save 10% of your income
2. have a 6-month emergency fund
3. spend no more than 25% of income on housing
4. etc. etc. etc.
But for how many people does this knowledge actually produce results? It's not for lack of jobs, but is based on emotional components.