My story isn't flashy or full of angst; it's more the tortoise than the hare. After college, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to grad school and moved in together. It was easy to get used to the frugal lifestyle in grad school; when all your friends are also grad students, nobody has any money, everyone lives in a crappy apartment, and everyone drives a ten-year-old car. It's only an "uncomfortable" lifestyle if you're used to something better, and we had no basis for comparison, so life was good! We were perfectly happy with our tiny apartment and ancient Honda; as a result, we were able to pay off about $20k in student loans from our undergrad years while living on our grad student stipends.
The real test was when we completed our PhDs and moved into the (slightly) higher-paid realm of postdoc-hood. The temptation was strong to ease up a bit on our minimalist lifestyle, maybe move from a one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom for a few hundred extra dollars a month. But after some discussion, we decided to stay put where we are for a few more years, putting the extra money we could be spending on rent into saving for a down payment for the house we ultimately want to buy.
These days, our college friends who didn't go to grad school are far ahead of us in terms of lifestyle. They are buying houses, cars, shiny toys.... There are moments when I look at our one-bedroom apartment (I can pretty much see the whole thing from one spot, so that's not hard!) and wish we had more space, more stuff, nicer stuff, etc. But then I remind myself that by living in that tiny apartment for another year or two, we're saving so much money toward that future down payment. Two years from now, my husband and I should both have the jobs we've been working toward for the last decade, with real salaries attached. It's been a long slog, but our goals are in sight now. And our willingness to stick with frugality will mean that the house of our dreams is several years closer than it would have been otherwise. Delayed gratification--it's worth it in the end, right?