- We are both fortunate enough to have had well-paying jobs for the past several years.
- We don't have kids.
- We paid off our debts (student loans, car loans, no credit card or mortgage debt though).
- We both have low-maintenance, money-saving financial personalities, and the things we enjoy doing for fun are not that expensive.
Again, it's not a magic formula, nor is it a model that everyone can or should emulate, it's just an explanation of our own situation. I think that the combination of the four factors is significant - if any one were missing, that might blow the deal.
Consequently, we got to a point where we can get by comfortably from a cash flow perspective on either one of our incomes, especially if it's just for a limited time period, e.g. one year. (So I guess I do have a sugar-daddy! But I hope to be my spouse's "sugar-mommy" in the future when he takes a year off to do his own thing.) And, we were able to build up enough of a savings cushion to stay afloat for more than a year even if both of us lost our jobs. After making that assessment of our financial picture, I felt comfortable with leaving the working world temporarily to pursue some other interests.
About #4, our lifestyle is low-key compared to some people that we know, but not everyone. We rent a 2-BR apartment and drive 10-year-old economy cars. For fun, we like to hike, ride our bikes, attend concerts, read, learn new things, sing and play music, stargaze, go out to eat, do volunteer work, and spend time with friends and family. We can do many of these things with little to no cash outlay, especially since we're not equipment junkies with respect to our hobbies. (Probably the restaurants and concerts account for most of the cost, plus we pay dues for the performing arts and astronomy organizations.) Now there are lots of other ways to blow discretionary income in this valley, but the spouse and I don't get too excited about most of them!
Also, I know some people in the area who live significantly more streamlined lifestyles than we do, essentially for the same reason: to maximize the flexibility of how they can spend their current or future time, so they can use it for pursuits (paid or unpaid) that are worthwhile to them - without having to win the lottery!
About #2, I can see how having a family makes it tough to cut loose. I've talked to people who wanted to do something similar, but haven't figured out to swing it financially while raising children. Although I'm pretty impressed with how some of them come up with creative financial arrangements to have a one-income family and still provide their kids with lots of opportunities and/or a stay-at-home parent to spend time with them.