John and I went on a one week vacation, sailing the San Juan Islands. This is something we couldn't even imagine doing ten years ago, when our kids were teens, let alone when we first married. We never imagined we'd have our own sailboat, let alone the energy to take it sailing for a whole week.
How times change!
Part of the reason we are so comfortable now is that we started saving immediately after getting married. We've had good fortune in not experiencing unemployment (other than the 'unemployment' I chose after the kids were born). We learned great thrift habits, learned to say "no" to ourselves, learned to do without, etc. What 'they' tell you really is true, it's easier to save and plan when you're young than when you're in your sixties.
As a result, we ended up in our sixties with our home paid off, money in savings, and a retirement pension. Not bad. But none of this happened without a lot of saving and scrimping in our early years. Two years ago, we had enough saved up to buy a very used sailboat, complete with two heads (nice when you have two fogies on diuretics!). And we enjoy it lavishly whenever we can.
It's hard to believe that, when you are 27 years old (my husband's age when we bought our first home) that we'd ever pay off a 30 year mortgage, but we did, and even did it a little early. We stayed in our first home for 15 years, and when we bought our second, we financed a 15 year mortgage so that we'd still have it paid off within our 30 year plan. And yes, you, too, will see age 57 and beyond. So bear this in mind.
When we were young, we had to listen to a lot of criticism about our thriftiness. Some friends and family eschewed generic beer, K-mart wardrobes and mac & cheese. They didn't get why we drove used economy cars rather than new luxury models. But after 30 years, we don't have to explain anymore.
So, keep the faith. No matter what, when you chose to raise kids, you chose the rocky, thrifty road. Make it work for you! Someday, those little ones will have homes of their own, and you'll be sailing calm seas.