My husband and I met in the middle- he grew up in the highest earning bracket and I grew up in the lowest, with about 9 of my childhood years spent on AFDC while my parents tried their hands at various educational goals. Literally at different points our annual income ($7000) was less than my husband's parents every two week income.
We earn very far above the median US household income but in our expensive city, we are solidly middle class. We do not have advanced degrees and my husband actually only works pt and goes to school. We pay our mortgage easily, have savings and investments, own our car free and clear, eat very well, get all of the things we need and a lot of what we want. No debt except the mortgage and we can donate to causes we support. So I consider myself positively rich by comparison to my parents when they were raising a family. I also consider myself rich by comparison to my ILs but that would be for different reasons. We are way happier than they were- money can't buy happiness.
My parents often had to wait for weeks or months to replace too small or worn out shoes and we rarely got new clothing except from holiday angel sponsorship. Most Christmases, someone from church or a food bank or an adopt a family type thing provided our food and gifts. One year, our main gift from the food bank was a puzzle that turned out to be missing pieces, a fact we were were disappointed to learn after a week of puzzling it out. While I don't care about the used clothing and buy some for my son, I have a compulsion about making sure he has plenty of shoes that are well fitting and not worn out. My brother has the same and his daughter is too little to walk. We also go all out for the families we sponsor for the holidays- 1 family we delivered to today got a hundred+ dollars worth of toys, games and books for their school age son, a whole wardrobe of clothes and a coat for him, a nice stroller for their newborn, clothes, toys and books for the newborn plus gifts for mom (haircut, nursing clothes, pampering items) and dad (music player) and eating out cards. It drives my mother nuts (I think she things we should spend that much on her, which we don't). That (shoes and holiday help) is the main way we try to make up for our childhood.
My mother comes from a long line of generational poverty and I am the first high school (and college) grad in her family and the first out of poverty, unless you count my debt fueled aunt. My mother is brilliant but never went to school as a child past 6th grade. My father comes from a middle class background filled with professional and college degrees. He was the poorest of his siblings as an adult.