How do you downgrade your lifestyle? I think it's much harder to downgrade a lifestyle than to upgrade it.
Hence why I think I'm finding it so difficult to go back living like a student. This is why I enjoy spending $75-100/week on food. Whereas previously we could survive on $25/week and there were few complaints. Granted food was a lot cheaper 6-7 years ago, but still $25/week didn't buy much.
We never bought meat, except ground beef for a special treat. We didn't eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, again special occasions or great sales. We ate a lot of cheaper, unhealthy foods. We ate a lot of processed foods like hamburger helper, mac and cheese, pasta, etc. So now the thought going back to that lifestyle feels like nails on a chalkboard.
What else? Well cable, we never had tivo, extra channels, or even an extra cable box. We had minimum cable or no cable channels. We always had cable interet or DSL, which made sense for downloading papers, work, etc.
Another upgrade was having cell phones. For a long time DH didn't have a cell phone and I had a cheap plan to just call home. We cetainly didn't have a family plan until a few years ago. Now it's part of the lifestyle.
All these upgrades in lifestyle, it's funny how it's so easy to enjoy a better life, but difficult to let go of it. I wonder if this is what causes perhaps credit card debt? People having an expectation of a "lifestyle" then losing a job or having a financial issue. Then being unable to maintain their current lifestyle they turn to credit cards to supplement their finances.
Could you downgrade your lifestyle? Personally I think it would be really hard for us, but if absolutely necessary I could start doing it.