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Are you the same class that you were raised as? - Page 3

post #41 of 89
I thought about this article the whole time while I was reading through the thread, glad I could dig it up!

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2008/05/14/mooney

I identify upper middle, and I am pretty sure that my mom and step-father (who I lived with from 9-18) were rich. And, aside from the time difference, it's pretty apples to apples as we lived in the same area that I do now.

They had a sprawling 5 BR ranch on five acres in the best town in our county. (Super high property values that have held steady even thru this crisis). We have a 3 bedroom house one town over where it's more reasonable. My sister went to private school that we'll never be able to afford. They owned several horses--I'm just looking at riding lessons now and not sure how we'll make it happen. My mom did not work and my stepfather owned his own business. They are very financially conservative and were definitely NOT living on credit. DH and I both work out of the home. The money is just not there, and I pretty much agree with the article above as to where it's gone. Many of the burdens have been put back on the middle class, as far as rising health care and living expenses.

I had a pretty heated debate with my mom, as her expectation is that we are or one day will be rich--and I told her at this point, I am only interested in both of us working less--and if less $$ is the corollary we'll have to figure it out. I should add, we have a good life, and I know it. For me it's just more frustrating as we too, have family expectations, that we'll be able to visit my parents in another state several times a year--and it's like they have no sense of the reality of what it takes out of our budget to do that. Or that we even have a budget!
post #42 of 89
We are a little worse off than my upbringing and probably a little better off than dh's. That said, we're broke--lower class, i'm sure. Several things factor into this: i'm the one with the college degree (and the cosmetology license), and we'd both prefer i stay home as much as possible, and dh got laid off last year from a job at which he'd worked his way up to management, so he's left to deal with the only job he can find, which pays crap.

I don't get too down about it b/c i understand completely that how much money or how nice/new our stuff is is totally meaningless. We focus on having a loving, nurturing house rather than what we can buy/do. Sometimes the little things bother me: my brother's immense house, our kids only having hand-me-down's, when i'm hard-pressed to find the money for something like ds's preschool snack, etc. But then i remember what's important, and count my lucky stars that my kids are awesome people who will benefit, somehow, from this lifestyle. It also helps me to remember the people who can't clothe their kids and don't have a home/food/etc.
post #43 of 89
We were both raised with middle class values, and that's where we stand now, as well.

However, my family's income was low, low middle class. My dh's family's income was upper middle class. We earn very middle, middle class now.

This has been hard for my dh at times to accept. His parents had a nice house, in the newest, up and coming area of each town they lived in. His dad had expensive hobbies. His parents routinely treated themselves quite lavishly. We don't have the income for that, and I think sometimes dh feels cheated because of it.

Part of it, though, is that dh's parents don't really see the value in passing along any of their money. They didn't pay for dh's college or grad school. They never bought him a car or paid for clothing after about age 16. They expected him to go on big hunting trips and learn to golf, etc, but they never funded any of these things (even in his young 20s, just starting out).

They don't help with our family expenses in any way. To the point that it's difficult for them to visit us, because they want to go out to eat and have some entertainment, but they don't offer to pay. Or contribute to groceries for their visit. Or anything of the like. (All things that are common in my family; the older/visiting family always generously contributes to the hosting family).

So, dh's parents had this expectation that he and his siblings would also be upper middle class, but they didn't do very much to foster that, besides have it as an expectation. :roll:
post #44 of 89
Wow, interesting topic. I was initially middle class. Then parents divorced, father vanished so he didn't have to pay child support and we were definitely lower-middle class. Started moving back towards middle class when I was in college. Most of my 20's were lower-middle to middle as I graduated college, started out in the job world and such. Now my husband does quite well so I would say we are upper-middle.

Wanted to respond to a couple of things that stood out:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
<snip>

I am curious how many people have married into a different financial class and how it's been to adjust? <snip>
My husband grew up solidly middle class and his parents are quite comfortable. But stingy!

The bigger difference is where DH's career has taken us. Adjusting to new friends and having our friends get used to our house and such has been a bigger change that we have dealt with. Some friends didn't stick around, some did. We haven't changed but I find that people perceptions of you change - even when you don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
<snip>

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.

<snip>

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."

<snip>
I really identify with this. When I was growing up there were two areas of town where the kids just thought they were totally rich and I believed it. Well a couple of months ago I had an errand to run and was somewhat close to where I grew up so I decided to drive through town. Oh boy! I turned into one of those "rich" subdivisions and just cracked up. I lost it. I'm looking around thinking, "THIS is what they thought was so great? Seriously?" A little life experience changes everything.

I taught myself social skills through books and movies. No joke. I'm now quit comfortable in any environment but it took a while to get there. It is interesting the things you just don't learn about in school.
post #45 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
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.
Yes, there is class pride. Yes, we have fathers telling their sons that going to university will make him a pansy or "intellectual" (said derisively) etc. Yes we have mothers telling their daughters not to get all "high and mighty" if they are "ascending" with a job or maybe a rich boyfriend. Though it's not universal, there are plenty of working class families whose single greatest pride is having sent their kid to college, having their kid be a lawyer or a doctor or a CPA or whatever. We have construction workers insisting their kids to use their brains rather than their hands. Or other parents who do everything in their power to have their sons play basketball in front of a recruiting coach.

I don't feel I can estimate whether it's more common to try to help your kids "ascend" classes or to hold them back, they are both pretty common. I would lean toward saying probably more parents want to see their kids "ascend."

Americans don't turn our noses at nouveau riche (only the "old families" do), so that isn't really a factor at all. In fact, it's the American Dream, rags to riches. Better than being born into an old family is to grow up on the streets and become a CEO or doctor or a professional athlete or an actor or president. It might not happen that much (or... ever, with the president example) but that's the dream. While a lower class speech mannerism will be an impediment to hobknobbing with the elite, if you "make it" and are the CEO of a huge business you started, you can actually then start flaunting that speech mannerism to the admiration of those around you.
post #46 of 89
GoBecGo asked about whether there's pride in sticking to one's class in the states, and whether it's socially acceptable for us to "move up" or not.

In my experience, it seems like there's a lot of pressure to move upward. It seems primarily materialistic, though - like the purpose of an education is solely to earn more so you can have a bigger house and more stuff. And that there's no excuse to not succeed, basically that you're lazy if you're not earning a high enough wage. Is that other's experience, too, or am I totally cynical?

To me it seems somewhat revolutionary these days to decide to live within your means.
post #47 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulCakes View Post
GoBecGo asked about whether there's pride in sticking to one's class in the states, and whether it's socially acceptable for us to "move up" or not.

In my experience, it seems like there's a lot of pressure to move upward. It seems primarily materialistic, though - like the purpose of an education is solely to earn more so you can have a bigger house and more stuff. And that there's no excuse to not succeed, basically that you're lazy if you're not earning a high enough wage. Is that other's experience, too, or am I totally cynical?

To me it seems somewhat revolutionary these days to decide to live within your means.
It could be a regional thing. It seems to me that in New England there is more of a mindset to live within your means, and flaunting wealth seems to be looked down on. A NE friend of mine moved to California but only stuck it out for 18 months - she said it seemed that everyone there was all about flaunting money they didn't even really have on flashy cars, etc. A very different mindset to Boston.
post #48 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulCakes View Post
It seems primarily materialistic, though - like the purpose of an education is solely to earn more so you can have a bigger house and more stuff. And that there's no excuse to not succeed, basically that you're lazy if you're not earning a high enough wage. Is that other's experience, too, or am I totally cynical?

To me it seems somewhat revolutionary these days to decide to live within your means.
I totally agree. While the upper class takes pride in more than possessions ("breeding" I guess), the vast majority of Americans don't care about such things. They just want a big house, a Rolex, a Hummer, and a bunch of stuff.

Yes, we blame people for not being wealthy. Of course ignoring the fact that there are hard working and lazy people of every class. Don't tell me a lawyer works harder than a housecleaner. And while I know a couple of welfare queens too, don't tell me my millionaire half-brother is anything but lazy (which he also fully admits).
post #49 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulCakes View Post
GoBecGo asked about whether there's pride in sticking to one's class in the states, and whether it's socially acceptable for us to "move up" or not.

In my experience, it seems like there's a lot of pressure to move upward. It seems primarily materialistic, though - like the purpose of an education is solely to earn more so you can have a bigger house and more stuff. And that there's no excuse to not succeed, basically that you're lazy if you're not earning a high enough wage. Is that other's experience, too, or am I totally cynical?

To me it seems somewhat revolutionary these days to decide to live within your means.
This is what I see, too. If you don't have the 42" TV and pimped out SUV, you're "poor" no matter what. It's all about materialism. Everyone-even the lower lower classes are pressured to live big-I think that's some of the big Walmart appeal. They make stuff that seems "upper class" affordable to the lower classes even though it's built off the backs of the lower classes and marketed to most people who can't pay for it.

The only time I've ever seen the "stay in your class" attitude is when marrying into another higher class-my mom faced it *majorly*. She supported my sdad through grad school for 6 years and still was written out of every will and inheritance so she would never see it-even after my sdad would die or anything because she was obviously "looking for money". I haven't seen this around here so much. But there doesn't seem to be much class distinction. Other than the few super rich families who stay apart from everyone.
post #50 of 89
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
It could be a regional thing. It seems to me that in New England there is more of a mindset to live within your means, and flaunting wealth seems to be looked down on. A NE friend of mine moved to California but only stuck it out for 18 months - she said it seemed that everyone there was all about flaunting money they didn't even really have on flashy cars, etc. A very different mindset to Boston.
I both agree and disagree with that. I grew up on North Shore (Boston area for those who don't know), DH in Hartford. DH went to Los Angeles a few years ago and was rather shocked by the lifestyles there. Everyone drove a fancy red convertible, flashed big gold watches, had plastic surgery, etc. So there IS a difference.

All the same, Bostonians want money money money too. Our houses may be smaller and we may aspire to drive a Prius over a Hummer, but we still want these things. There's just as many people in debt over here I think.
post #51 of 89
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.

My thoughts exactly!

My Grandparents were wealthy, upper-middle class I would say. They divorced and my grandmother went from being a socialite to one bad investment that lost everything. To this day, she lives in a 3000sf house, lives on SSI and does odd jobs like house/pet sitting for her income. She is still upper-middle class all the way. She still hangs out with her wealthy friends, though frustrated by her lack of income to go on the vacations and such with them. If you saw her on the street you would think she has money. This is all based on her sophistication, mannerisms, etiquette, etc.

Her daughter, my mother, was raised when they had money, but tanked her own life by way of alcoholism, but still, even though she and my step-dad didn't make a huge living, we still lived in that upper middle class town, though in a moderate house, and still maintained the look and feel that we belonged there even though we had a lower-middle class income. My mom's sophistication and such has been hampered by her drinking, but my growing up in that town, in those schools, with those people, still leave me feeling like I'm an upper-middle class person, well, maybe a mid-middle class person because I didn't get handed a car, lessons, private school like my mom had.

My dh and I have been through some hard times financially the past few years, and no matter if our income is up or down, I don't feel like my class changes. If we had to live in a one bedroom apartment, it would be well kept, styled, clean, etc. I shop frugally to support the lifestyle I'm accustomed to..... so my kids will always have decent clothes, good books, healthy food, etc.

I hope this makes sense. Class, to me, is more like a culture. That doesn't just go away with a shift in income.
post #52 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
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.
I totally agree with you.

Very interesting thread! If the questions are based solely on income/net worth level then we are not on the same level as our parents. Both DH and I grew up in very wealthy families. I would classify us as upper middle class because of several factors... we own our home outright with no other debt (just recently paid off our car and can afford for me to SAH with DS) but even with all that we are definitely not as well off as either set of parents.
post #53 of 89
Well, sort of. My parents are "Class X". They aren't easily pigeonholed. Neither are we. They've always lived very modestly. In their early years as doctors they worked as rural family practicioners and occasionally got paid in fresh chickens or a pie instead of cash.

However, they are both doctors, so there were certainly things they could do/afford if they chose to that we simply can't, even though we'd like to. For instance, a zoo membership would be nothing to them. To us it's a painful chunk of money to part with. Or groceries: by the time I was in my teens (with 4 younger siblings) my mom stopped counting pennies and just went out and bought stuff. I don't see that happening for us, even in 10 years. At that point they'd be Upper upper middle class, or something...if one wanted to stuff them into a category by income.

We did several Disney trips, had vacations, visited relatives and friends often, etc when I was little. We can't afford those sorts of things now. Dh and I have more in the bank than the average middle-class family, and we own several homes outright (a lot of blood and sweat equity in them, though) but we don't earn a middle-class income or live a middle-class life.

My dh's goal is to be insanely rich but not because he wants the material stuff. He could care less about "stuff" and thinks that buying a $40,000 car is stupid when you could get a nice older one for $5K and put the rest into property investment. He doesn't care about social status or what people think of him. The only time he's ever worn a real suit was on our wedding day. He just has an intense drive to pile up money for security. Knowing his childhood and background, I can totally understand that too. So I don't think we'll ever fit into traditional class labels, no matter how much income we have.
post #54 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace and Granola View Post
My Grandparents were wealthy, upper-middle class I would say. They divorced and my grandmother went from being a socialite to one bad investment that lost everything. To this day, she lives in a 3000sf house, lives on SSI and does odd jobs like house/pet sitting for her income. She is still upper-middle class all the way. She still hangs out with her wealthy friends, though frustrated by her lack of income to go on the vacations and such with them. If you saw her on the street you would think she has money. This is all based on her sophistication, mannerisms, etiquette, etc.

I hope this makes sense. Class, to me, is more like a culture. That doesn't just go away with a shift in income.
Nor is class necessarily obvious. To see somebody on the street and immediately put them into a class, I think, is an American phenomenon. That is why so many people want to "keep up with the Joneses". Because they want people "seeing them on the street to think they have money". These are often people with so much debt they're about to drown. Your grandmother is from a different generation where class was much more obvious. I think that goes back, not to "breeding", but to "rearing". Kids were simply taught better manners as a rule. (My parents are in their 70's, so I'm assuming your grandmother is of at least a similar age.)

Where class is *really* evident is when you interact with a person. Not when you just see them on the street. And I don't think that sophistication, manners or etiquette belong only to people with money.
post #55 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
It could be a regional thing. It seems to me that in New England there is more of a mindset to live within your means, and flaunting wealth seems to be looked down on. A NE friend of mine moved to California but only stuck it out for 18 months - she said it seemed that everyone there was all about flaunting money they didn't even really have on flashy cars, etc. A very different mindset to Boston.
Must be where you are in NE and Boston because IME (my whole life -3 years of living in NM) this is not the case at all-especially in the suburbs of Boston. Which is why we live west of Worcester.
post #56 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Nor is class necessarily obvious. To see somebody on the street and immediately put them into a class, I think, is an American phenomenon. That is why so many people want to "keep up with the Joneses". Because they want people "seeing them on the street to think they have money".
I agree with this. There is a huge expectation to "look the part" in the US. It doesn't matter if you can actually afford it, as long as you show it off it places you somewhere in society. I think that's why the sale of quasi-luxury goods have skyrocketed in the last 5-7 years. Coach bags or LV 10 years ago? There's an explosion of higher end goods that the average consumer buys.
post #57 of 89
Class is so much more than income, I think...

We are the same class as my parents (they were both teachers, and we are both educators) and of a much higher class than my wife's family (chronically underclass--grew up on welfare in public housing). We both have advanced degrees, and when we're both working, we work in fields that involve intellectual work. My wife has been out of work since getting laid off for close to 3 years, so we have a serious cash flow problem right now, but I would never dream of saying we are anything but solidly middle to upper middle class.

Both of my parents lived their adult lives with less money than their parents--though similar if not higher education levels. I am the third generation on my dad's side and the who knows how many generations on my mom's side to have at least a bachelors. Both of my parents have inherited nice little nest eggs from their parents and since they live frugally, will likely pass along some of that accumulated family wealth to us. Despite our present financial straits, we have many resources to fall back on, and would be considered "rich" by many of our neighbors if they knew how much money I actually make--and, it's not really *that* much.

ETA: I just saw the question about marrying across class lines. I do think it has been an adjustment. My wife has no understanding of the benefits of saving money because in her life, money came and went and there was never enough for your saving-behavior to matter. So, now, I get freaked out, because I know how we *should* be saving, but can't due to the recession and her job loss, and she doesn't really understand my anxiety about it. this is normal to her, and very much abnormal for me.
post #58 of 89
My parents were upper middle class, I would say. We took a vacation every year, belonged to a country club, and could afford just about anything we wanted in reason, but no horses or anything like that. And just because we COULD afford anything doesn't mean that we BOUGHT everything all the time. I think my parents' modest house, cars, etc was more due to their style/values than their pocketbook.

DH's parents were lower middle class... maybe even times of lower lower class. Often living paycheck to paycheck, scraping by.

According to the article on one of the other threads, with our income we are upper middle class. Sure don't feel upper middle class, though. By the time we pay our mortgage and DS's daycare bills, we don't have a whole lot of money left over for the regular monthly bills. Plus, we live in a high COL area, so we don't get much bang for our buck.

Depressing question. I realized a few years ago that I will NEVER reach the level that my parents obtained.
post #59 of 89
Right now about the same. I grew up lower class I guess....my dad made 10K/year for the first 5 or 6 years of my life (late 80's & early 90's) and then 20K until about maybe 5 or 6 years ago, when I was finishing high school. Now he makes more than he's ever made, aroun35K /yr and my parents are enjoying it even though the economy ruined his credit and has made things tough for them financially. My mom always supplemented his income doing house cleaning, babysitting, sewing and so forth.

I have made a steady 10-15K/yr since I graduated high school. Last year was my worst at 8K. This year I think will be better since now I have my dbf working full time and me doing work for cash, just like my mom did. However the difference is that we have a plan to move up in the income bracket, where my parents were fine with staying there. My mom chose to stay home long after I was old enough and self sufficient enough for her to get a job and help my dad out.

However, it means that I am very, very good at being poor. I have years of experience. So does my dp....he grew up helping his mom sell tamales on the streets in Dallas. We both have good work ethics because of how we grew up.
post #60 of 89
Interesting topic, I was raised to believe we were middle class. Even after my parents' divorce when the electricity was shut off for nonpayment and Mom paid for gas with pennies until pay day, she called it "a cash flow problem". She always considered any poverty transitory and it usually was. After she married my step dad, our life style became middle class. He supported us three younger girls and made sure we had what we needed and sometimes what we wanted. He was a great guy.

My dad was the kind of guy who worked a good job long enough to qualify for unemployment and then volunteer to take the first lay off. He always had money for his wants and needs, but was very frugal (cheap) with us. However, he lives debt free, in the house he owns and built, grows most his own food and chops his own wood. He's 76 years old.

My husband told me how poor he was growing up. Imagine my surprise when he takes me to meet his parents. They have a five bed room, three bath room house, they own mortgage free on an one acre lot. They own two newer cars (no debt) and the pool, did I mention the pool? The house my husband has lived in all his life with the snow mobiles, four wheelers, the boat, and all the other toys. My ILs had no debt. My husband was told his entire childhood that they were poor.

We are lower middle class in life style, we have two paid off cars, we own our home, but it is small. We are professionals (I'm allied health professional, Dh is an engineer). We don't make as much money as we could, I work per diem so I can home school our son and DH works for a small company that is having financial problems right now. But, we have minimal debt and a large savings account. DH took 50% pay cut with minimal effect on our life style. Basically, our lower middle class life style enables to live our life with minimal financial stress.
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