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By "we don't understand", you mean "I don't understand". There is no great mystery; programmers are paid as well as they are because of the amazing efficiency improvements their employers get by automating work. If you think about how much money you make your employer (or even better, talk to your company CEO or someone close enough), you'll see that in fact, programmers could be paid a lot more if they were aware of their impact.

Whether it's "fair" or not is irrelevant - you can accomplish a lot with little effort, and that's it. If you think salary should depend on effort and not impact, your employers will be more than happy to let you believe that and pocket the difference. And I'm not writing this to change your mind, but to try to mitigate further spreading of this "we are paid more than we deserve" mindset/myth. Please go to and start reading; you may or may not agree with everything, but you definitely need to be exposed to these ideas, they will help guide your career.

Finally, of course you should be saving some money, but don't live like a monk if you don't have to. Just be ready to adjust if something happens.