I always grew up on something of a financial roller coaster — Mom and Dad were both reasonably well educated and came from solidly middle to upper middle class families, so they always had some degree of safety net, plus plenty of connections who could help them get loans, credit, jobs, etc.
However, they were never particularly good at managing money or keeping jobs. This meant that even though we lived in safe neighborhoods and sometimes received middle class paychecks, there was never any guarantee of having food in the pantry or all of the utilities paid up. Coming home from school to find that we had no electricity was so common that I was amazed to learn that other people’s houses didn’t have “unexplained power outages” every month or two.
My house is smaller and crummier than the houses I lived in growing up. I shamelessly cut the corners that my parents would have never dreamed of cutting, so our pantry contains mostly off brand items that were purchased on sale, and every item in my closet came from a thrift store. Outwardly, I look poorer than my parents did, and sometimes I feel poorer.
And yet, we have food in our house at all times. The lights always come on when I flip the light switch. Unlike my parents, I am not constantly having to call up friends and family members to ask if I can borrow $600….which is a good thing, since my parents don’t have $60 to give me, much less $600.I haven’t achieved anything even remotely resembling success, whereas my parents had most of the outward markers. I will admit, though — there is a real wonder to being able to actually pay each bill every month!