(Closed) Rich or poor — how did you grow up?

posted 4 years ago in The Lounge
  • poll: How would you describe your family's financial situation while you were growing up?
    Poor : (48 votes)
    17 %
    Lower middle class : (71 votes)
    26 %
    Middle class : (81 votes)
    29 %
    Upper middle class : (67 votes)
    24 %
    Rich : (10 votes)
    4 %
  • Post # 46
    860 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2015

    when j was 5 and younger we were very well off, my mom stayed home and my dad had a great salary as an aerospace engineer. Then he got laid off and couldn’t get another job, my mom went back to work but with just a HS diploma didn’t make much. We scraped by and slowly emptied our savings for years, I got free lunches at school. Fortunately, we had paid off the house just before all this happened. It was the only reason we didn’t lose the house

    Post # 47
    1284 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2014

    My mom was a single mother of two and we were poor – like, Habitat for Humanity house poor. Darling Husband and I always argue about “ok, but were you ______ poor?!” Like, were you hot dogs in ramen for protein poor? Were you getting your ass kicked for a $2 late fine at the library poor?

    I went on a family vacation to Vegas once, and Darling Husband never had any vacations other than family road trips for funerals. We both started working at 14 and paid for our own school pictures, sports fees, and contributed to school clothes and such.

    We make about 3x more money right now than our parents ever did.

    ETA: and my mom was totally one of those women on welfare we like to pretend dont really exist. She worked part time by choice when a full time option was available, she always had nails and lattes, etc. It really taught me a lot about how to value money since she would have these luxuries but cry when I asked for help with cheerleading costs. She didn’t know how to manage money or prioritize and so that’s become a huge part of my life with Darling Husband. We are strict Dave Ramsey budgeters and take financial stability really seriously. 

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  208bride.
    Post # 48
    901 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    Poor at times, lower middle class at others.  We lived simply but had the essentials.  No car, no brand name clothing, we ate what was on sale, vacations were rare, etc.  We hosted people in our home for extra money, I started cooking and grocery shopping at 9 years old.  I got a job as soon as I could and besides a little for candy, the rest went to living, not fun.  I noticed it most when I wanted to participate in sports, I was only able to sign up for one, soccer.  Then when I got good enough to be selected for a rep team, other teammates and our coaching staff helped with the expensive registration and travel expenses because my mum couldn’t do it.  So thankful for everyone who helped me those days… but they knew that.

    You know what, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I appreciate everything I have because I know what it’s like to go without.

    Darling Husband and I have decided that regardless of our financial situation, we refuse to raise spoiled brats just because we can afford to make them that way.  Even if we were rich (we’re not), we’d hide it from them!


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by  danier.
    Post # 49
    1740 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2016

    Audrey2:  Agreed, social classes in UK are very different than in USA.  They are more closely linked in the US, and there is more mobility (both up and down) in the US as well.

    We were upper middle class.  But my parents were both from working class families, and they worked hard for what they have.  They remain quite frugal even now – they keep their cars for decades, they actively search out sales, they don’t share much with their kids… lol.  They also made my sisters and me get jobs when we turned 16 so we had our own spending money.  Work ethic is very important to my dad.

    My Fiance and are fairly solidly middle class.  We live in an awesome lake-front house, but he inheritied it from his (also very hard working) parents.  We are very lucky in that regard.  


    Post # 50
    1338 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    I grew up upper middle class from about the age of 6 onward.  My siblings who are 10 & 11 years older than me had a VERY different experience.  They were around for some very dark days but by the time I was a young child my dad had clawed his way into a very different income category and life for his family.  My siblings were in their mid teens by then.

    We lived in a big-ish, nice house in a pretty neighborhood in a nice city with excellent public schools, we had a boat & a cabin up in the county, there were toys like 4 wheelers & snowmobiles, etc.  Both of my parents drove Cadillacs & my mom did not work.  We took family vacations.  We never went out to eat, I did not have a lot of clothes or toys or “stuff”.  I had a bike and I was never inside in the summer & outside at least a couple hours after school in the winter.  I had chores to do first though.

    I started working for my dad part time in the summers and babysitting by age 13.  Full time in summers by age 15 and then had my own year round job starting at age 16.  I always worked.  When it was time to buy my first car my dad split the cost with me and we bought a cheap used car in cash.  Insurance & repairs were on me.  College was the same deal, dad pays half.  

    I feel that materialistically I definitely had a nice cushy life in the house with the big pool, the cabin in the woods, boat trips, family vacations & ski club.  Being put to work & made to start paying my way with my first paycheck made a huge impact.  It made me associate those things & that lifestyle with working for it early on.  It might have been the best possible scenario to grow up in.

    In my mid teens my dad sold almost everything except our house and started his own business.  We went for a while with no insurance, we did not spend unnecessarily, family vacations came to a hault, etc.  He put all his money into the business then lived lean as he got it off the ground.  I was scared at first as my dad went from wearing a suit & tie & driving a Cadillac to wearing painters clothes & driving a van.  I didn’t quite understand at first.  But his business was successful and little by little he started incorporating the old fruits back in to my parents life (I was older/out of house by then).  I think that was another great learning experience for me.

    I would like to put it out there that this only speaks to finances & materialistic wealth.  There was a lot of abuse & crazy shit in that nice financially secure life.  I grew up in fear & darkness for much of the time, there wasn’t really any love in our house, and my memory of childhood is colored in grey.  I know I’m still very fortunate because many many people suffer that kind of stuff AND poverty or close to it.  But while I was well off in things I was very poor in love, nurturing, & security.  I thank my lucky stars that I at least had one of those two elements on my side.  I can’t imagine lacking both, I don’t think I’m a strong enough person to come out very well in that case.  I so much admire those that do.  

    Post # 51
    576 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    For most of my childhood my family was what I’d consider working poor. My Dad had a steady job, but it was very low paying. We lived in a very small town, and my Mom tried to find a job in town, but there just wasn’t anything available to her. Her only option would have been to drive 45 minutes to a bigger town, and when you add up the cost of gas, childcare, and vehicle repairs (we had an ancient truck as our only vehicle) it would have cost more to go to work than she’d have brought home. She ended up babysitting five kids while their Moms were at work, so she brought in some money that way.

    I never knew that we were poor, until I was older and started to put the pieces together. I think it was because of the combination of living in a very rural area, and having parents who were great at shielding us from any talk about money or bills. I had a great childhood. My Mom was always home, the kids she babysat were our friends, so we always had lots of people to play with, and my Dad was home every night. We never went hungry, although there were some pretty lean times. My Mom used to make us “cracker sandwiches”, two saltines with cheez whiz on them, to take for lunch. We went without meat a lot, and my Mom found ways to stretch what we had. Most of our vegetables were either homegrown, canned or frozen, and we hardly ever had fruit, other than apples, or fruit produced from our garden (raspberries and strawberries). I didn’t get a new article of clothing until I was in my teens. We got some clothes from the thrift shop, and also from our church. They used to bring us big bags from the donation bin and let us pick what we wanted. It was always fun for me! I loved going through the clothes. My Mom also sewed a lot of our clothes, and taught me how to sew. I still sew some of my own clothes now. The only vacations we ever went on were camping trips, and we had a tent, so they were super cheap. Those are some of my best memoreis though. I still love camping, and my husband and I still sleep in a tent. I never felt like I missed out on anything. We may not have gotten to go to Disneyland, or had new clothes, or a bunch of toys, but we grew up in a happy, fun home where we knew we were loved. And my parents never gave us anything to worry about. I had no idea that there had been financial problems until I was in my teens. I feel very lucky to have had the childhood I did.

    I am also lucky, because I’ve seen first hand where hard work can get you. When I was 12 my Dad was finally offered a huge promotion. His wage more than doubled, we moved to a bigger town where my Mom was able to find a job, and things have just gone uphill from there. My parents didn’t make any big changes in how they spent their money. They did sell our crappy old truck and get two cars, but neither were new. We also got a tent trailer for camping, which was a step up from the tent because it had a fridge! We still didn’t go on a vacation out of the country until I was 22. Food was probably the biggest improvement. We got to buy real cheese! And good cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, and lots of fruit. That part was great. My parents didn’t go crazy though, they saved a lot of money, because they knew what it was like to be living paycheque to paycheque and wanted to be prepared if anything bad happened. If my brother or I wanted something we had to work for it. We got a few more luxuries, like some new clothes, a few more toys, but nothing too big. I got a job when I was 14 so that I could afford the clothes that I wanted, and so that I could start showing horses. I’ve worked ever since. I bought my own first car (a piece of junk but I loved it), bought myself a horse and paid for her care, worked my way though school with no student loans (I got some help with tuition from my parents), and bought my own condo at 21. I’ve always known that if you just work hard you will get where you want to be one day, because of the example that my parents set for me. I also learned to be very frugal from them, and still don’t indulge in a lot of luxuries.

    After I finished high school my Dad got another big promotion, and then there was a company merger, and he ended up taking a package, and was able to retire very comfortably at 55. He and my Mom moved back home, and built a brand new house on an acreage. My Mom still works part time, but my Dad just putters around their place, he has pigs and chickens, and lots of woodworking projects on the go. It’s amazing to me what he was able to accomplish by working hard and being careful with his money. I hope that I can do half as well as him one day.

    Luckily for me my husband thinks about finances very similarly to me. His parents farm, and they had some very lean years as well, they almost lost of the farm in ’94, but managed to stay afloat, and now they’re doing very well, so my husband’s experiences have been very similar. We are both savers, and neither of us are comfortable carrying debt, or living paycheque to paycheque.

    Post # 52
    669 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: August 2011

    I guess middle class, though being from a large family I felt like we were the only ones in the neighborhood who weren’t spoiled, so it was like being almost lower middle class yet living in an almost upper middle class neighborhood, which sucked. 

    Post # 53
    743 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2015

    It fluctuated a good bit from poor to middle class. Regardless, my parents always worked their butts off and made ends meet. When I was in high school and college, both my parents and myself worked so money was never an issue. 

    Post # 54
    1570 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 2017

    Carolsays:  When I was growing up there was a lot of unrest and layoffs at my dad’s job, and they filed for bakruptcy after a couple poor investments. We didn’t have a lot of money and it was a constant discussion in my house. As the oldest I think it particularly impacted me since I was aware of the situation and could understand the implications.


    However, now my parents are quite wealthy so good for them!

    Post # 55
    2872 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2015

    Slighty poor to poor. I never suffered though. My mom was a single mom of two kids. We always had food, clothes and looked good. Didn’t need a cell phone or car 🙂

    Post # 56
    7905 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper

    Interesting thread! Before I was born and when I was little, my parents struggled as recent immigrants.  By the time I was a teenager, my dad was thriving in a really good job. I consider myself incredibly lucky. My dad has always been very frugal, and because I know their hardship at the beginning, I tend to be frugal as well. 

    Post # 57
    7778 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2010

    Upper middle class- although I didn’t realize it at the time. Nothing was excessive, but we had a nice house with an inground pool and spa, nice cars, my mom was a Stay-At-Home Mom, I got to go to Europe on exchange for a summer in high school and I went to a private college- mostly on my parents dime. Growing up, all my friends lived this way so I didnt know any different. I knew we weren’t poor, but had no concept of the struggles some people have to just clothe their children and have food on the table.

    Post # 58
    893 posts
    Busy bee

    solidly middle class. I feel fortunate — my parents were at the poverty level when they got married, but they worked so hard that by the time I came along, we were quite comfortable.

    I struggled the first 10 years I was on my own so I do know what it’s like to not have enough money. my first jobs were really low paying, and I was unemployed at one point too. I could have asked my parents for help, but there is no way I’d do that unless I was practically homeless. 

    Post # 59
    1061 posts
    Bumble bee

    When I was a baby my parents were definitely on the lowest end of middle class, the bills were paid, they worked hard and I got treats (off the clearance rack) now and again but money was not plentiful. As we grew up we got more treats, nicer stuff on occasion, fun stuff at the grocery store, my mom didn’t stress about spending money, etc. My dad was working tons of overtime and had gotten several raises over the years (he printed the newspaper) and my mom’s job was profitable so we got used to a solidly middle class lifestyle and all it’s perks. Then dad’s overtime started getting cut as the newspaper industry went down the drain, then my mom’s clients were going bankrupt from the 2008 crash and money got tighter and tighter till I was about 15 and my dad finally got laid off. 

    Money got REALLY tight then but we were used to a certain lifestyle that was hard to change, my mom also has the mindset that if she doesn’t think about a problem, it doesn’t exist so when bills were actually due she got uber stressed and turned to alcohol. It’s sad to me that this is how I remember a lot of my time under my parents roof- always ignoring money problems then breaking down when it was time to pay up. Everything always got paid and my dad finally found a new job at a big pay cut but my mom got so overwhelmed by the stress of her business that she’s slowly shut it down and taken a few years off while I, then my sister, were in college. At their lowest they were definitely at the poverty line but things are on the upswing for them and my mom is finally ready to start working again. I see them getting back into the middle class soon but retirement is not in their future anytime soon.

    I unfortunately got my mom’s mentality where if you don’t talk about spending money or bills the problem doesn’t exist till it’s crunch time. I also developed some poor spending habits since they were always on an upward trend until I was 15 when I got my own PT job and had my own cash to blow. As I’ve made more money, I’ve learned to spend more money which is something I have to work on. On the other hand I also was taught to value getting 5, $10 pairs of used pants instead of 1, $50 pair new so I do know how to budget, I just like new stuff too much.

    Darling Husband and I are solidly middle class (probably upper for our age group) and can only go up from here. It’s so nice to have someone who isn’t phased when a bill pops up or we want to do something expensive like travel. He’s defintely in charge of saving because I never learned that habit but we work well together. I don’t think our kids will want for much but I’ll have to work hard not to spoil them. 

    Post # 60
    9098 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2012

    Very poor. Electricity vs Food kind of poor.

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