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Are you the same class that you were raised as? - Page 2

post #21 of 89
Interesting question.

My dad was raised upper-class - servants, extensive property, fancy cars and schools - the works. My mom was raised low-middle-class. Together they made a fine pair: my dad spending money like it never ran out but without the work ethic to earn it; my mother wanting more than what she had and working her tail off but not enough to keep up with what she and my dad wanted to spend. My childhood was spent destitute, but with fancy vacations and private school. The social trappings they required sucked us dry. They divorced and I lived with my mom in welfare housing for several years while she went back to school.

Now my mom's raking in the dough and still spending like there's no tomorrow. That's her business, though. Dad's living off inheritance.

Anyway, we're much better off (upper-middle-class), but it's all thanks to my husband. Now if only I can land a job...
post #22 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post
This is tough question b/c my parents were divorced. My mom was a secretary and never made more than 15K a year in her lifetime. My dad was vice-president of a company and made big time money- his bonus was around 112K when he retired- that was just bonus, not salary. I often attribute this to my bi-polar way of handling money. I seem to be great at being frugal for a while, then I go on a spending spree, LOL.

We are actually living in the middle, which is how my dh was raised. He went into the same field as his dad, which accounts for some of that. We are middle class. The only real reason we struggle at times is b/c we have to put our kids in Catholic school (the public schools are beyond awful in the area we live in.) without the tuition, we would probably have a little more of the nicer things, but we certainly don't lack for the necessities in life. I would also say we are pretty much where we thought and hoped we would be. I am a teacher, so I knew I would never be wealthy, but I wanted a job that would allow me to support my kids alone if needed.
This is similar to my situation except that the roles were reversed - my mom out paced my dad financially. He went back to living with his mother until she died. Now, he lives in an efficiency and my mom lives in a 4 bedroom house on a golf course in a gated community. Her income really took off when I went to college. So, my younger brother, 4 years behind me, really got the kid benefits. Make no mistake, though, I got and continue to get great adult benefits. She paid for my ivy league education. During law school (for which I paid), she took me to Spain, Greece and a fantastic spa, on my spring vacations. My college graduation trip was to Europe. Growing up, we did beach vacations. In NJ where we lived, first, but then to Hilton Head, SC.

I had dance and piano lessons growing up. Any my mom did all necessary for my younger brother's acting career, including sending him to a performing arts hs, The Julliard School for college, and financing all of his living expenses in NY (and at 35, she still supplements him). She gave my older brother money for the down payment on his first home and didn't require him to pay her back when he got married and bought his family home. She's loaned me $80k for rehabbing my house (no interest, no payments) and offered to finance my 2nd car at 2%. She gave me the down payment for my first new car when I turned 30. And she retired early. And travels. Extensively. Chicago today for my ds's birthday. Dubai next month!

All that to say I'm not doing quite that well. LOL! My dh comes from a low income background. But, so does my mom, so, our values when it comes to what we spend our money on are aligned - although we diverge on how we spend our money. Him - as soon as he gets his hands on it; Me - after I've considered the purchase. For a while. Unless it is yarn or some other crafting supply.

By my salary, we are upper middle class. But we live in a major city that is expensive. Our daughter is in a tuition based pre-school and we will send her to private school since the public school in our area is horrible. My husband is a SAHD. I have Saturday help. This year, we will have a nice vacation. With the rehab, we haven't had a nice vacation in 3 years. All of my bonuses have gone to pay for it, pay money back in lump sums to my mom, etc. With the new job I'm hoping to get the details on the offer in the next day or so, we will be very solidly upper middle class and I very much look forward to being able to sock away for college on a regular basis. Right now, that fund consists wholly of stock I received when I came into my current job and would fund 1 year of a private institution education. I've got 7 more years to cover between my 2 kids.
post #23 of 89
Nope. My parents climbed from middle class to upper upper middle class (six figure income, month long cruise every year, etc.). Neither one of them has a college degree.

My husband has a masters, I have a BA, and we have six figure student loan debt and food stamps.
post #24 of 89
When I was a child I thought we were upper middle class because we always had everything we needed, not excessively, but we never wanted for anything. I don't know where I got that idea, it's not like we went to private schools, had any sort of lessons, etc. As a teen I realized we could have had more but my mother was a tightwad in the sense that she was able to save quite a bit over the years (she always handled the budget, not my dad) yet would allow and could afford splurges for herself now and then, but rarely splurged for us four children.

As an adult I began to wonder just how much money they had because after us kids left the house they would each buy a new car about every two years paid in full. They'd give money to friends and family in need, $5k here, $5k there, etc. For all their generosity, though, no one ever paid them back. They were too trusting. They bought a few acres of land in a couple different states and when their house was paid off, bought some rental property. At this point (2000) my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two months later. Since that time my father has systematically depleted our inheritance to where he now has to ask his children for money from time to time.

I was solidly mid-middle class in my first marriage. As a single mother later I was lower middle and in my second marriage now I consider myself to still be lower middle for too many reasons to go into even though we don't want for anything.
post #25 of 89
We were middle class when I was little, but upper middle class by the time I was a teen. We took vacations, had music lessons, went to private schools, etc. But, my parents were also frugal and lived within their means. I remember as a kid it was YEARS before there was furniture in the living room because they didn't have money for it.

I would say we are middle class now, but we live in a high COL area so money doesn't seem to stretch as far. My parents had already bought a house by the time they were my age (27) but it will be years before I can afford to do that.
post #26 of 89
So are class divisions worked out purely along income in the US? What about breeding? Breeding is actually how you get to be "upper class" in the UK - you can't be rich enough to be it, except if you pay the government for a lordship (cash for honours anyone...?) and even that's a fallacy. Having said that i personally know a lord and he is VERY VERY poor!
post #27 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
So are class divisions worked out purely along income in the US? What about breeding?
For the most part it's based on income. Breeding doesn't really matter unless you were born into money and maintain it. I could have been born into a upper class family with millions but if my parents lost it all and I have an average job with average income I jump down to middle class. But one can also start out lower class and work their way up.


My family is all packing house/field worker immigrants from Mexico. My mom got out of the fields when I was young and started working as a secretary. We were still super poor since my parents were divorced and my dad didn't help at all. Now I'm middle class and very happy.
post #28 of 89
This is an interesting thread to me. It's really tricky for me to figure out the answer to this.

I grew up with what I needed. We lived in a small house until I was about 11, then moved into a bigger older house. Both were owned, not rented. My mom has always had cheaper new cars, but my dad frequently had used cars (personal preferences). I never wanted for anything, really.

But my mom has also mentioned the times when she wouldn't have known how to put food on the table if it wasn't for the fact that we lived in the same town as my grandparents. BUT, for my family "food on the table" meant McDonalds or Burger King- so certainly not the most frugal ways.

My parents now have a nice house that they built on a lake and nice cars. They both make considerably more money than they did then, though. My mom especially has a great job that pays much more. But I also know that other than what has been put away for the past few years since my mom got that job, that they don't have any retirement savings to speak of.

DH's parents are also a bit tricky. His dad is a methodist minister, so they always had nice houses. It's hard to tell how much money they actually have. His mom just became a minister last year. They had enough to give us a sizable chunk of cash when we just bought our house.

We're doing okay. Without kids we're saving a good amount every month, and while we can't go buy every extravagant thing we want we don't sweat the small stuff at all. We can afford to fix our cars if they break. If we weren't about to have a baby we could afford to get DH a new car. But with the baby coming we're going to be very strapped, but that is living our current lifestyle (well, cutting down on misc spending will have to be done). Daycare, etc is really going to eat up our ability to save.

So, long story long- We're not that far off from where our parents were at this point, probably. Hopefully we'll be in a similar situation by the time we're in our 50s, though hopefully better than my parents as far as retirement money goes.
post #29 of 89
Dh and I live in the same neighborhood we grew up in, but I grew up in a very large executive home, he in a larger bungalow. We now live in a smaller bungalow, one of the smallest homes in our (affluent) city. We grew up with SAH moms, but I need to WAH. I'd say we moved from upper middle to lower middle, as I would reckon it.

We are INFINITELY happier better off than my parents were, due to their health issues/divorce, though, so class doesn't enter in to it. I was a very unhappy kid growing up in a big house. Our kids are much happier.

And I shudder at the thought of ever having all those bathrooms and bedrooms to clean and manage that we had in that executive home.
post #30 of 89
My parents were probably lower middle class when I was very young. However, by the time I was in high school, they were starting to climb and now they are have quite a bit of money (though I don't think they manage it well and they think I'm cheap).

Hubby and I probably aren't too far off in absolute terms from where they were when they had me, but we have way more education and I work a far more pleasant job than the two manual labor jobs my dad did to scrape by in the early 80s. My hubby can't really find a good paying job, though he has a side gig.

I don't see how I will reach where my parents are now without major economic expansion coming back and I'm not sure that's going to happen.

Very interesting topic!
post #31 of 89
Someone passed on an article to me from the New York Times a few years ago that explored class mobility in the U.S. Apparently, currenly there isn't much real mobility at all, at least not in the upward direction. The article basically pointed out that my generation or perhaps the generation just under mine (I am 30) are going to be the first folks who will not make in lifetime earnings more than our parents -- as a whole -- in many, many generations.

I think it is important to look at stuff like this because Americans come from a very individualistic culture. Heck, the "American Dream" is based on the premise that anyone can pull themselves up by the boot straps. We tend to blame folks who fall short, but in fact, there may be something bigger than us at play at all times, and our ability to control our circumstances may be less than we think.

It reminds me of an open house I attended last year at one of Harvard's graduate schools. A prospective student asked a faculty member her thoughts regarding Harvard's reputation for elitism. The professor went on at length about the admissions process being "blind," and how there is no way to know, for example, a "Rockefeller from a Smith." She *insisted* that *maybe* the reputation had some basis in reality on the undergrad level, but it certainly had no basis on the graduate level.

What she completely missed is that the elitism is institutionalized. Who, for instance, will be more likely to have recommendation letters from someone associated with Harvard, whether an alumn or even a current faculty member? Those letters are of course given more weight than someone unknown to everyone on the admissions committee. And the admissions department flat out admitted (no pun intended) to me that when they look at undergraduate degrees they look to see how the student did, but they don't give it all the weight it might deserve unless it is a "known school." And since we know that the high school (and even a middle school) a person attends can influence college admissions, it is pretty clear that status and access are at play.

I guess what I am driving at is that I think when people attribute doing well financially with individual action, the flip must also be true, in a general sense...that people not doing so well must not be doing so well because of flaws on their part. This is a pretty limited understanding of economics and mobility, and I think it leads to "blaming the victim" in some cases.

I'm all for personal financial responsibility, but we tend to frame our experiences with language that goes a step beyond that.

As for me, my parents were able to shift from working class to lower and finally solid middle class while I was growing up, but they have the advantage of coming from middle class families themselves (my mom's was middle middle class and my dad's was upper middle class), and more importantly they come from families with advanced education traditions. So it isn't a surprise. My mom graduated high school, but has only a little college experience (gained with kids under foot). Her income would be working-class level if not for my dad. My dad did not graduate from high school but later went back to school and now has at least one masters degrees. His was a middle class income until recently when he decided to pursue his own dream for a business. He currently has no income and a fair number of expenses.

We spent a lot of my childhood living in the lower end of the economic rungs for our community. I saw most of my peers as "rich," but I realize looking back now that they would have simply been considered middle class by most standards. I *do* think each class has its culture, though there are certainly some variations according to other factors such as, for example, race or nationality...and certainly some people will break the mold wherever they are.

As a kid, I had trouble relating to my solidly middle class peers for reasons that were for all intents and purposes, cultural. To this day, I cringe when forced to choose a wine, attend any party where what you wear is important, order food at a nice (but not outrageously nice) restaurant, or any number of other typically middle class activities. I can feel, palpably, that I don't know all the "rules."

I have spent my adulthood in varying places between working class and low-middle middle class. I relate well to people along the economic-cultural spectrum, but tend to feel most at home when with other folks in the lower middle class or with people who have some advantages of education (their own or family background) but happen to be in the working class.

My wife has only a small amount of college under her belt, and that is far more than her immigrant father or her second-generation-American mother. dw was one of seven. Her parents were working class for many, many years, and they have one of those "American Dream" stories that centers on investing a very small amount of money in what turned out to be lucrative ways. dw's mother never worked, but dw's father worked 60-90 hour weeks for years and years. He eventually retired due to an on-the-job injury in his factory (during my dw's childhood), and even through the first part of his retirement, he and his wife lived very comfortably (solid middle to upper middle class). Only very recently, in their mid to late 70s, did they begin to live a more frugal existence on a fixed income. Of course, I don't know how much credit card debt they may have from various points, but I understand they have generally kept their cards paid off through their investment money.
post #32 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
So are class divisions worked out purely along income in the US? What about breeding?
No, not at all, though this thread is mostly discussing the more "objective" side of class, which is income and housing and social standing. More like a quality-of-life comparison to your parents, rather than class. The OP said that she felt like she'd be middle-class whether she lived in a mansion or in rags, and I agree - class isn't transient, really. A pauper might be of high intelligence and drive and work themselves through their education and enter the upper-class Great Expectations-style, but you can take an upper-class person and put them in a one-room shack in the boonies and they'd still be just as upper-class as ever. As I see it, in the US, breeding is mostly indicated through grammar and education, sophistication, the expectations one has for oneself and standards of living, etc. That's just a rough-and-dirty version, obviously, but it's even easier to separate people by "class" in the UK - even for an American like me. The accents give it all away.
post #33 of 89
Thread Starter 
I agree with your thoughts, sierra. While I can acknowledge that personal responsibility usually has SOME effect on income, it does seem to me that other factors are much more significant.

Indeed elitism is institutionalized. And there is also a glass ceiling for some people as well, where teachers, peers, employers, even parents hold down an individual.

Someone from the UK asked if income was the sole determinant of class in the US. I don't think so, but class is a very taboo subject here (as is race), I've already offended someone, and so it's difficult to talk about. However, I will say that in the US, "breeding" is not nearly as important as in the UK.
post #34 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulCakes View Post
No, not at all, though this thread is mostly discussing the more "objective" side of class, which is income and housing and social standing. More like a quality-of-life comparison to your parents, rather than class. The OP said that she felt like she'd be middle-class whether she lived in a mansion or in rags, and I agree - class isn't transient, really. A pauper might be of high intelligence and drive and work themselves through their education and enter the upper-class Great Expectations-style, but you can take an upper-class person and put them in a one-room shack in the boonies and they'd still be just as upper-class as ever. As I see it, in the US, breeding is mostly indicated through grammar and education, sophistication, the expectations one has for oneself and standards of living, etc. That's just a rough-and-dirty version, obviously, but it's even easier to separate people by "class" in the UK - even for an American like me. The accents give it all away.
Yeah, that's what I was trying to do but I was really clumsy with the words. Quality of the life - that's a much better way of phrasing it.

I've heard the class distinctions in UK accents too, and even once unintentionally offended someone about it (I was used to what I considered London accents, his was not the accent I was used to so I assumed he was from elsewhere, apparently he was a Londoner after all but of a lower class than the guys I usually talked to... yikes!!).
post #35 of 89
I hope you don't think I'm mad. I guess it's just that here, class doesn't matter as much as being a local does. So long as your grass is the right length and your related to any of the given local families, you are treated as the same class as everyone else! There are people who make far less than we do that have Pottery Barn furniture and SUVs and we can barely make it week to week with grocery money.

I do get what you're saying. I just don't see class distinctions very relevant in any of the places we have lived.

I am curious how many people have married into a different financial class and how it's been to adjust? Dh's family were a little above mine class-wise and now they have quite a bit of money. They're always buying stuff for us and paying to take us on vacation, etc. It makes me uncomfortable because my family never gave me anything growing up besides the obligatory homemade quilt my grandma makes for babies. Going in their house has always been weird, too, because of their nice white carpet and nice couches. I was raised Salvation Army chic.
post #36 of 89
We're much higher than either of us grew up. We're probably Upper Middle Class. We make over $100k a year, have two homes, nice cars. We go on international vacations and can afford some luxuries.

I think a bigger part of it is our mindset. Knowledge and learning is valued in our house. Growing up, learning for learning's sake wasn't really a priority at all. For example, I probably read hundreds or even thousands of books when I was young, but 95% was worthless junk. DH, OTOH read almost as much, but he was directed to literature that was significant.

I grew up lower class. We lived in a trailer, barely scraped by, had no money for any type of extras, etc. My parents actually couldn't manage that lifestyle, they were constantly helped out (and still are) by relatives.

DH's family was better off than mine, but they were still considered "poor". There were five children, which was a big part of it. His father was a hard worker, but they someone couldn't really move up in life.

ETA-We're what I would consider blue collar.
post #37 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I hope you don't think I'm mad.
Well, if you were, you wouldn't be the only one... I knew class was touchy before I brought it up, and I took that risk. Race is touchy in the USA too, and I never knew just how touchy until I travelled to Tanzania. Race is certainly a subject there, and it absolutely carries some sensitivities, but it's not at all the same. You can talk about it, even in "mixed company." I think there are some good reasons for it being taboo here, based on our slavery history. But I digress and once again risk offending someone!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I guess it's just that here, class doesn't matter as much as being a local does. So long as your grass is the right length and your related to any of the given local families, you are treated as the same class as everyone else! There are people who make far less than we do that have Pottery Barn furniture and SUVs and we can barely make it week to week with grocery money.
That's a very tricky distinction to make and I don't know how to make it: how do you figure debt lifestyles into the equation? Well, I think I'll fall back on my previous answer, that money is only a portion of class, regardless of whether you spend more than you have or live within your means.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I do get what you're saying. I just don't see class distinctions very relevant in any of the places we have lived.
I think probably most of us feel that way but I suspect that it's because it's so taboo that it's invisible. I do agree that some areas focus a lot more on insiders/outsiders than anything else, though.
post #38 of 89
Lower than our parents, middle middle rather than upper middle, but our parents were a doctor and lawyer, so they had greater earning potential and more social cachet than MBA hubby and BA me.
post #39 of 89
So, do you get class pride/adherence in the US...? Often in the UK you will hear people of ANY income level saying "i'm working class and i'm proud of it!" and there is an undercurrent of the feeling that one should be PROUD of being working class and NOT try to ascend the class system among some people. Examples of that would perhaps be a father saying to his son "you got into university!? What you want to go there for? That's not for people like us." In fact "that's not for people like us" i have heard applied to riding lessons, music concerts, theatre trips, clothing styles, you name it.

Does that happen in the US? Do people try to ascend the class system, and is there resistance/disapproval from others for their doing so? Do you have class pride, class guilt (feeling bad at how much you earn because it gives you a better life than others in "your" class who earn much less), do you have the phenomenon of "working class chip on the shoulder?" whereby someone is clearly ascending by circumstance or design out of the working class but still tries to cling fiercely to the standards and codes they were raised with (including feeling other people of their "new" class must automatically be getting at them personally because of their origins)?

I understand this is sensitive for many of you, and i don't want to hurt or offend - i'm just fascinated! It's amazing how different our cultures are considering we share common language and some common origins.
post #40 of 89
This is a very interesting topic. I don't really think of money in terms of "class" or even income, but rather than in "net worth". We have a higher net worth than I did growing up. I'd call my upbringing solidly middle class, median income, medium net worth. However, my parents were in their 30's when they had me. I think age makes a difference. We are an older couple, too.

By what I am reading in this thread, we are upper middle class, high income, and high net worth. But you'd never guess it to look at us in spite of a 6-figure income. I have the same earning potential/past as dh, but quit my lucrative job to be a SAHM (I now earn about 6K/year very part-time). We live in the house I bought when I was single and stayed here knowing we wanted a child and I would stay home. Even when I bought the house, it was about 1/3 of what I was told I could "afford". I knew that I didn't want to be house-poor, ever. We also drive older cars, although they are nice cars and we take very good care of them. I don't much care about appearances. If I worked, we'd be probably upper class by the standards set out here because I'd have to have a maid and servants to do the things I can do now on my own. But I still wouldn't care about appearances.

Yes, dd attends private school, we vacation in Europe (and elsewhere), and she has horse-back riding lessons once a week. But outside of that, you really wouldn't guess our net worth or income based on appearances. We're savers, not spenders and don't carry debt. It's why I hang out here. I learned money matters from my father. Definitely not my mother, as she lives with us now and we support her.

Class is a whole other topic, which, to me, is separate from money. There are plenty of classless wealthy people and plenty of classy poorer people.
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