This is such an interesting thread. My parents lived in a pretty HCOL area with solid union jobs. They both have secure pensions and while they aren't and have been wealthy, they are living a pretty secure retirement. I don't remember really thinking about money as a kid, short of really, really wanting a pair of Guess jeans, most people lived pretty modestly. I did get a job as soon as I was able and paid most of my way through college including a lot of student debt.
But, all of my mom's siblings? The ones who lived really close to the bone? They are really suffering now. Single wage earning in a depressed economy with no pension or built in retirement? My uncle is 79, is missing five fingers from a mill accident, and is still working as a handyman. My aunt is 76 and still trying to get substitute teacher work, even after a big stroke. Both of my other uncles are still working full time, need to work full time at more than 70. And they don't want to work. And I just remember them taking and needing so much. From the government, from their churches, charities, and my mom. I would visit for a month every summer with my clothes from whatever the discounter was and my cousins would just have this pinched look on their face because they were new or because I had a book purchased from the bookstore for the plane.
I have work to support my family but as much as I would like to SAHM I don't think I would ever do it at that income level. I just remember it too well. My cousins, especially the ones who struggled the most, have some pretty bitter memories of the choices that were made about their lives. Because in their cases, they were generally choices.
No kidding. I have to say that some of the posts I see on MDC make me wonder if some people think about the future at all. No emergency fund, no retirement savings, living paycheck to paycheck, all by choice in the name of being a SAHM. What do they think they are going to live on when the kids are all grown up and they are too old to work? Do they expect their children to be their financial support? If so, is that fair to the kids?