Unfortunately, some of those stories are probably true.
Personal responsibility does not seem to be very high on our society's list of "things to do" these days.
We are blessed. But we are also responsible with those blessings.
We have no debt. House, new cars, vacations are all paid for.
We live in a pretty affluent town, but live in a 30 year old house while everyone around us builds $500,000 - 1,000,000 monsters. (with the utilities bills to match)
We use credit cards for ALL purchases to get the points, but always pay the balance off in full every month. If we can't pay for it at the end of the month, we don't buy it.
We donate 12% of our gross income every year to various charities
and spend about the same amount cruising every year.
But we did not get here overnight. We are in our mid-50's (late 40's for hubby). Time and proper planning will do a lot to get someone their goal!
Sadly, my best friend is just like Paul's friend. She will never have a pot to cook in or a window to throw it out of....but she has a full collection of Louis Vuitton luggage (and all the purses).