I once had someone tell me : "Quit saying you can't afford it. You can afford it. You chose not to do it." I guess it is all in the words for this person. If I feel that I cannot financially justify something, I cannot afford it. To me it is simple.
We are frugal in certain ways- but free flowing with other things. I cannot afford an expensive purse- or else I have to give up having a trip to see the grandbaby (about the same costs these days). I cannot affort to go on a fabulous vaction with my extended family- because it takes away time and money from my intimate family. I cannot afford to buy a new car- or else I have to give up being ready to pay my taxes fully.
I cannot afford it is my term and I am sticking to it.
This has helped us be in the mind set for retirement. One person thinks we have so much more money than we do. The secret? We simply live for the special things and cannot afford the show things:>)