Are you the same class that you were raised as? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not TRYING to monopolize this forum this week, just seem to be thinking about money a lot recently, I guess.

Are you better or worse off than your parents?

I guess that question is technically different from a class distinction, since class is only partly about money. I am middle class and I would honestly be/feel middle class whether I was homeless or financially independent. I have middle class values, mannerisms, etc.

Anyway, whether you're talking class or financial standing, are you the same as how you grew up, or do you live differently?

I grew up upper middle class - private schools, vacations to Europe, music/horse/sports lessons, etc.

DH also grew up upper middle class - private schools, big house, fancy cars, etc.

Oddly enough, we are middle middle class. Our combined income is less than 1/2 of what our fathers alone made at our age, WITHOUT ADJUSTING for inflation. We make $40k, whereas our dads in their early 30s were pulling in $90k plus, back in the late 70s/early 80s. (Our moms were both pink collar - mine a nurse and his a teacher, both working after we were in school).

Some of this is just the times changing, I think. Our dads made their careers in a pretty good long boom. But, still, I wonder how it is that this happened. I'm not complaining, but it seems a little strange somehow. Maybe DH and I just made very different choices in terms of priority. Also my income is a little limited because I am multiply disabled - my choices are realistically limited though I'm very smart and have a great work ethic and am good at business.

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#2 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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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.
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#3 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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I guess we are middle middle class-- for dh this is a jump, for me not so much. I guess I always though we were upper middle class-- but no ponies, private school or trips to Europe. Maybe we were just middle class?

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#4 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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We were probably lower middle class growing up. We are mid-middle class now. Really not any different, if you ask me. Maybe a bit more wiggle room sometimes..

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#5 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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Started out as lower middle class in early childhood but we were upper middle class at least by my teenage years.

I would consider that DH and I have been generally middle class up until about 1 1/2 years ago. We were quite comfortable up until then. Now I'd say we are lower middle class due to the economy drying up his line of work and adding 2 more children (now a family of 6).

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#6 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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I think we're about the same, lower middle class I guess. Though my parents separately each stopped living within their means when I was 10 so we're spending less than either of my parents. My MIL who DH grew up with is and was doing a bit less well, lower class living situation I guess, only because of CA cost of living though.
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#7 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:00 PM
 
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Growing up we were probably considered lower class, maybe lower middle class by the time I was a teenager.

As a young kid we always rented and didn't live in the nicest areas in town, we always had beat up cars, we shopped for clothes at discount stores, etc.

By the time I was a teenager my parents had bought their own home in a nicer neighbourhood, had a newer used vehicle, sent me and my sister to Europe a couple times each (school trips). I guess the difference was that my mother stayed at home with us when we were younger, and started working full time when I was 13.

I would say that my family now is lower class. I'm a SAHM and my husband is a factory worker. We have no money for vacations. We live in a small 2 bedroom apartment as we cannot afford a house, etc. We have enough money for us personally to be comfortable, we don't really want for much.
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#8 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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Family of origin - lower middle class, lower class after my father died. I and all of my siblings are now middle middle class.
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#9 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I've never really paid much attention to class standings, so I cannot answer from that perspective.

From a financial perspective, I have a much cushier life as an adult than as a child. So does DH, but it isn't as obvious for him because his parents never discuss finances with him. Oddly enough, his mom discusses finances with me. The differences for DH are more subtle than for me.

My parents had me when they were young (20) and hadn't even figured out careers. They divorced shortly thereafter and I lived with my dad. He found a career via apprenticeship training, which takes time. We were broke a lot of my young childhood, but I don't really recall the issues my dad discusses. By the time I was old enough to notice or care, he either was making enough money or he went into debt to provide for me. All that happened before he figured out his life. My dad moved himself from a dirt poor childhood to a middle class (various places on that continuum) adult life to a pretty comfortable retirement lifestyle (early retirement was forced on him, but he has handled it with grace and no financial hardships). My childhood was spent in the lower end of his climb out of poverty. I didn't know or care and money was the least of my concerns as a child.

My adult life started pretty rocky, financially speaking, seeing as I was homeless for the first year and then married into the military. We did fine financially once then-DH started receiving his real pay. We had other issues, however, and I was on my own for a number of years before meeting the love of my life. I got a few college degrees along the way and always worked and paid my bills and was financially secure. Not rolling in discretionary income, but living below my means and saving the excess versus spending it frivolously (as many of my friends did).

DH's childhood was very stable financially. He was the "oops" baby when his three siblings were teenagers. His childhood was the lap of luxury compared to theirs, according to the whole family. His dad worked and his mom stayed home. DH is the only one in his family to have a college degree and his job is easier and he makes more money than his father did (without adjusting for inflation, but also just in everyday life decisions). Ironically enough, today, his siblings all have more affluent lives than we do. It is a function of COL (ours is much higher) and values (we don't value the same "toys" and large homes, etc). I don't know if their incomes support their lifestyles or not. DH's parents are steady as rocks and lead a conservative, but comfortable retirement (nothing fancy, but definitely sufficient).

Together, we are raising our daughter in a lifestyle most similar to DH's childhood, but with some lessons from my childhood thrown in for more meaning (aka teaching moments). DH was somewhat clueless about money, but lucky enough to not make any HUGE mistakes. Probably because he had a pretty large salary. (It is easier to make mistakes and not have them devastate you when you have steady income that is substantially higher than your true expenses.) He had a lot more debt than I ever did when we met and I strongly encouraged him to work on that before we merged our finances. Although money/finances didn't make the radar much in my childhood, I learned about money nonetheless somewhere along the line enough to never get into trouble with it. Then, I earned a degree in finance and worked in banking and securities to round all that out.

Long way of saying we definitely have improved our financial standings compared to our childhoods.

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#10 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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Way worse than my parents.

I too had horses, private lessons, international trips, etc. I remember when in highschool my dad bought me a car, he put it on his American Express card.... which of course must be paid off each month.

Anyways, no where near the same level than what I was raised at.
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#11 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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Better off than my whole family. WAY worse off than my step-family. My s-dad always had money but we were put on a very low allowance so food, etc. was not always there. We're not well off, but better off than my parents & family.

My family was lower class (low-low to mid-low) and are now slightly higher. We are upper-lower to lower-middle.

I don't know what is meant by middle class mannerisms, though.

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#12 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It doesn't matter that much but for the record, I didn't have a horse growing up - just riding LESSONS. And piano lessons. And violin lessons. That's what I meant.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#13 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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Compared to DH's family when he was growing up, we are living many levels above. His father started to do well financially later in life but it only bought bigger houses and cars. He still lived his life like he did when he was younger, hanging in the barroom, surrounding himself with undesirable characters, making poor choices.

Compared to my family? I don't know, probably even. I remember things being very tight when I was little. My mom remarried and then our standard of living greatly improved.

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#14 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I don't know what is meant by middle class mannerisms, though.
I think that a person tends to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, do certain activities for relaxing, that sort of thing, that can be correlated to class. In this country it's taboo to talk about of course, though.

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#15 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I think that a person tends to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, do certain activities for relaxing, that sort of thing, that can be correlated to class. In this country it's taboo to talk about of course, though.
I would disagree with this. I think a lot of that is materialism-but all classes are guilty of that here in America. When I was in high school, we were easily upper middle class by income yet my s-dad was such a penny pincher, I was only bought clothes once-in 8th grade (secondhand) to last me until I graduated. I had $1.50 for lunches when they were $3 for the school ones, never took a real vacation, and we had a beat up honda with the hood duct-taped on. My classmates were shocked when I was in economics and we talked about our family income.

I was raised (if you don't count that period of time between my mother's marriage and divorce) very lower class where some of my family still have homes with dirt floors. And yet I enjoy "upper class" things like the languages I taught myself, my love of Opera, violin, classical music, and I use wonderful grammar IRL. I would hate for people to assume my income from those things. I find it rather offensive, really.

Not to start an argument, just saying that mannerisms related to class are very often wrong.

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#16 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I'm in the UK, and i have to admit that the markers being used for class on this thread are not those with which i am familiar.

My father was middle class (private school, "staff" in the house (maids/housekeeper etc.) his father was a chemist and his mother was a best-selling author). They were "moneyed".

My mother was working class (state school, father was a career soldier, mother was a housewife). They were not "moneyed" but not poor either.

My father was not middle class himself because he didn't get a university education, he was an engineer, and eventually a first engineer, but by working his way up. My mother was not middle class, she was a nursing auxilliary, and later worked in social care and other similar public sector jobs. They were never rich and my brother and I went to state schools (though i was offered several private school scholarships which i never took), though i did have riding lessons, music lessons and my brother didn't but could have, if that makes sense.

I guess we are middle class now. Financially we are better off with just DH working and only now beginning to ascend the higher ladders of his career path (he's a software architect) than my parents were with both working and my dad about to retire. We are both university educated. We live in a middle-class house in a middle-class area. But DD will go to an excellent state school nearby, not a private school. She currently has dance lessons, though is losing interest (she's 4 next week!) and we will provide riding/snow-boarding/music instruction when she's older.

To me the class boundaries are all very blurred and strange nowadays anyway. I think the UK standard i was aware of was that the working classes did the dirty work, the middle classes assigned it, the upper classes enjoyed it and the aristocracy owned it all.
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#17 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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Yep, we're the same. Both our parents are middle class and so are we. DH's parents stayed about the same as their parents, and my mom pulled herself up from lower-middle to middle class.

We're financially ahead of where my mom was at our age (but only because she was a single parent -- if I were a single mom I'd be behind where she was financially), but about on par with where DH's parents were.

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#18 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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Growing up I thought we were lower middle class, but really my parents were probably middle to slightly upper middle class. They were very frugal, we took long vacations but it was 6 weeks of camping across the US, stuff like that. We were never enrolled in any lessons, shopped at thrift stores, so I always thought we were lacking in money instead they were just socking it away. My dad always build all our houses, they never had a house payment. They are still like that today which allows my father to be selective about working and allows for lots of expensive "play" time.

DH grew up upper middle class, no private schools but he had 3 cars as a teen. he never went on vacations but had to stay home with the nanny while his parents went off. DH and I are in that bracket DH and I are in as well. No expensive vacations, but yes private school because of DD1's issues. DD1's therapy bills eat up a huge chunk of our money though.

I think what shaped DH and I more then income bracket was the fact that we both come from families that were successful business owners, built from the ground up. We both had an upbringing that the notion that we could whatever we wanted to if we really wanted it, but our families didn't help us pay for it. DH moved out when he was 17, I was 15 when I moved out for the first time. He started his first company when he was 23 and we bought the second together with money I made waitressing while putting myself through college. He didn't go to college, no one in his family has ever graduated from college, and I am the only one in my family to despite the income bracket which I always find interesting.

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#19 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:04 PM
 
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I'm in the UK, and i have to admit that the markers being used for class on this thread are not those with which i am familiar.


To me the class boundaries are all very blurred and strange nowadays anyway. I think the UK standard i was aware of was that the working classes did the dirty work, the middle classes assigned it, the upper classes enjoyed it and the aristocracy owned it all.
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#20 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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I am better off than my parents. Of course looking from the outside it might not seem so. I grew up with a great house, great yard, great neighborhood, new cars,any and all lessons wanted, went to the best schools, in the suburbs. Middle-upper middle class. I never wanted for anything. I found out as an adult that it was all on credit. It eventually sank my parents when they divorced. They lost their business. Both went backrupt and had to start all over. They are doing ok now but my mom had to file for bankruptcy again recently!

I live pretty modestly but have no debt. I make more money than they ever did but I don't live beyond my means (anymore, anyway!). I have a higher degree than either of them received. We're middle class now (according to our high COL area)

DW grew up very, very poor. At one point in her childhood she only had frozen soft pretzels to eat for about 3 months. Every meal. Their greatest Christmas present each year was being able to have meat at Christmas dinner. Her parents ended up doing better for themselves and bought a house and lived ok for a while. None of her brothers have made anything of themselves and haven't gotten out of that cycle but she got a degree and made good decisions and now she's much better off than her parents.

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#21 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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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...
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#22 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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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.

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#23 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:27 PM
 
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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.
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#24 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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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.
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#25 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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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!
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#27 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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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.
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#28 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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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.

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#29 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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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.
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#30 of 89 Old 03-25-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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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!
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