New Research demonstrates that for most - less is more:
Bottom Line: Many have adjusted away from the "keeping up with the Jones's" mindset of the pre-recession era. That being said most still live up to their means. But living up to one's means, even if not beyond them, comes with a lot of pressure to meet all of the obligations. Morningstar's lead behavioral economist just completed a study that showed that for the average American - less equals a better life.
The long and the short of it was that those who live below their means have less stress and thus more overall happiness as compared to those who live up to their means. This demonstrates the validity of something I've suggested for many years. That it's wise to setup your lifestyle based on half of what you can afford. The average person faces significant, negative adversity once every eight years. If you setup your household on half of what you can afford, you'll be able to save and invest meaningfully in good times and will be positioned to withstand the hard times.