Both you and the $65K a year person you describe are simply anecdotal stories. They count, but only in YOUR stories. Not everyone has a Home Depot to fall back on, not everyone has a spouse that can jump in and work. Not everyone has the same circumstances.
Some folks, just like in the mortgage crisis did go over their heads, but that is not everyone. Some folks just get hit and can't easily recover.
I too live below my means but that certainly doesn't mean that I am not one sickness or one six month employment issue away from a situation that could change all of that in a bad economy. I have watched it happen to too many smart people who also, like you lived below their means and always played it smart until that one thing changed everything.
You don't have a clue what that thing will be until it hits.
Using your anecdotal tale of how smart YOU have done with credit and with your families fiscal planning, there are several folks on this board who could easily ask you why you have been such a slacker, why you have deprived your family, why you have only had sales jobs and Home Depot jobs at times when you should be doing skilled professional work bringing in solid six digits by your early/mid 30s and not having to put your family through such sacrifice. But that would be an unfair issue because nobody knows your circumstances, nobody knows your issues, nobody knows why you are where you are and nobody knows what got you to the place that required those decisions.
That is what we each have to see in all of these folks before we make assumptions that THEY are somehow irresponsible or THEY are somehow not as good or smart as WE would be in the same place. WE just don't know.
You are absolutely right McBear and I am sure some people here would say that slacker part. Especially those who get their validation from the material world. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of people who earn the nice six figure salaries earn them. I have had jobs that allow me time with my family and flexible schedules so that I can participate in my family's life.
I find it interesting that you say I am anecdotal. I am afraid that I am in the minority. I was raised with the concept that you have responsibilities and when you have a family one of the first ones is to provide for that family.
I learned a long time ago to "Be prepared" just like you did. I was a terrible student but I knew that I needed a Bachelor's Degree so I went to college and earned it.
I know that sickness can strike anytime so I do my best to eat healthy well balanced meals, I don't smoke, I don't drink to excess (on a regular basis
). All of this is what is called "Good Decision making."
Many people here have made good decisions. And yes many people out there have made good decisions as well. When you look at people who have these credit card issues in particular though, the vast majority are those who finance their "wants" as opposed to having some discipline in their lives and providing for their "needs."