My wife and I are in a time of forced austerity that keeps us from spending the money that we earn in our normal ways. Now, we aren't by any means extravagant spenders--we rarely eat out, we don't go out to movies, we don't have expensive home theater systems or any of that. But because of circumstances completely out of our control, we're facing a certain amount of time during which we spend even less than normal. And in order to be able to make ends meet, we're going to have to give up some of the things that we take for granted right now.
I don't think it's important to sit down and make a list of things that we'll do without. Such a list, I believe, leads to inflexibility and probably resentment about our austerity. And heaven knows what kind of effect it would have on me if I were stupid enough to put something like chocolate on such a list--and believe me, in a moment of unjustified optimism, I could see myself naively putting chocolate on the list of things I would do without.
I think the important thing that we've done has been to prepare ourselves mentally for making small decisions every single day, and making larger decisions as time goes on. When I go to the store and I see something really cool that I don't really need, I'll have to decide that I can do without it, even though sometimes I tend to get such things, especially when they're on sale or on clearance. When we have to decide whether or not we want to eat out, we'll have to ask ourselves whether we want to spend 50 or 60 dollars at a restaurant or to put that money into our account to take care of necessary payments.
No matter what, these will be simply decisions that we'll have to make. They won't be that difficult, for we know what we really want and we know what our priorities are. Life is like that--when we decide what we truly want, then making the decisions necessary to make that a reality is suddenly a simpler task, and making sacrifices definitely is not something that causes pain or resentment--rather, it's something that helps us to achieve the goals that we have in mind.
Our time of austerity/recovery will end eventually, but for now, we're still in it. And we want to be happy while we're in it, not suffering, and the best way to do that is to be fully aware of our situation and make good decisions based on that awareness.