When we were living in Layton, UT a builder gave us tickets to Parade of Homes one year. I remember driving in a neighborhood with big homes and seeing young couples out in their driveways with small children. I wondered how they could afford so much when they were so young. Maybe they could, I don't know their individual situations. I just couldn't help but marvel at what I was seeing.
We lived in apartments for seven years after we got married. The only way we were able to get into our first house was because there was no down payment involved. In fact, when we moved from California to Layton we lost our deposit that we had put down on an apartment after we found our house. I remember debating on and on throughout the day trying to decide if we could afford a house payment that would stretch us to the limit. We dove in. We built up equity over nine years - put in a yard, fence, finished the basement, painted and replaced carpet, new roof, etc. We used the money we made on that house to purchase the land we our now living on.
We then built a house that is too much for us, though at the time I trusted that it was part of what we planned for. What if we would have done this, or that? I don't know how life would have been, or could have been. There is no way to know how things would have been otherwise. I certainly didn't plan on getting sick in 1998 when we signed the papers to close on our property, and then leave pretty much ALL of the house building decisions to my husband. If we had to build this house over again, I would certainly do it differently. In fact, sometimes I think I could live very, very simply if I didn't have kids to think about. (Yes, there's a good argument against that statement. Feel free to take it up.)
Bottom line: we make decisions based on the information we have at the time and with the life experience we have in that moment. I don't know how people say they have no regrets in life. I have regrets. There are decisions I made in the past where I wish I would have had more insight to have made a wiser and more prudent choice. But, that's life. We learn from our mistakes. And, sometimes our mistakes plague us for a very long time.
I still wonder about those young couples. We had a blip of time when people could get married and buy a house, have two cars, all the appliances they wanted, etc. and not even blink an eye. Now we are trapped in a world of work, work, work and people may not be able to afford everything they want even when they are working beyond full-time. It's interesting to consider that I'm one of those "old" people who can actually put a few years' worth of life into a perspective of decades. I need to respect that about myself. The sad thing is that one could think that I would be past making any more mistakes in life because I have a few years' of decision making experience under my belt. 'Tis not so.