Not Keeping Up With Our Parents

<p>I don't measure things financially ( or not * just* financially)</p>

<p>We were solid middle class- we lived in the suburbs, we had a custom designed home-both my parents worked but they both had attended college-
My dad lived at home while he attended college, but he had to pay for it himself while working full time and to get to his bedroom, you had to first enter the cellar which had a dirt floor.
My mother lived in a sorority when she went to university, her parents despite being blue collar were quite well off and lived in a fancy neighborhood.</p>

<p>I am oldest of three kids- I moved out when I was 17 shortly after my father died. I had not been raised to think I was going to college, none of us had, however, my brother did join the military and was able to get his degree that way.</p>

<p>My H and I don't agree on a lot, but we do agree that education is critical and we have done much to procure appropriate education for our kids and they will go farther than my grandparents could have dreamed.</p>

<p>Neither of my grandfathers went beyond 9th grade (had to work). My father quit HS when he turned 18 and joined the Navy (as his older brothers had done). Fortunately he met friends who pushed him into using his GI Bill benefits - had to enter University on probation due to no diploma but he graduated near the top of his class with GI Bill and summer work paying not only college expenses but supporting a wife and eventually 2 babies. We had a middle/upper middle class life, but life was simpler in those days. A 2200' house was pretty grand, now it's close to average. One black and white TV, one "hi-fi", one phone line, but that was all anyone we knew had...Retired with pension and has a nice fishing boat. Paid for our undergrad education (2 of the three at state university that was around $300/semester tuition, one at private with merit money).
We've been able to pay for our kids' undergrad school. We have more "stuff" than I had growing up. Does that make us better off? I think it's more important that our kids have had a chance to travel more. I was over 30 before I left North America.</p>

<p>H and I are better off than our parents were at the same age, but it's kind of comparing apples to oranges. Both sets of our parents starting having kids in their early 20's and both Moms were SAHM's. In contrast, although H & I married at 23 ( seems soooo young now), we waited 10 years to have kids ( that was intentional), had fewer kids and I worked until the second child was a year old (took 10 years off and am now back working). Ironically, after my
siblings and I were older (late teens through 20's), my Dad started a business that did well so my parents are able to have some well deserved luxuries now.</p>

<p>In both families growing up, education was a high priority. In my family, my siblings and I never considered NOT going to college. My Grandma had been a teacher and she would have been very disappointed if we hadn't gone ( sadly she died when I was in college). My parents took no vacations, bought used cars and sacrificed in other ways to send 4 kids to college. This was a very similar situation for H and his 2 siblings.</p>

<p>Both my husband and I grew up in families where being well-off was not a function of what you had, but what you could give. His parents had their own kids, adopted two more, had multiple foster kids, and took in a Vietnamese refugee family for a while, etc. My parents were more private, but still served on the school board, in the church, as baseball umpire, scoutmaster, etc. For vacations both families camped. The funny thing is, his family had lots of money and real estate, and probably 10x the income of mine, so the house he grew up in was more elegant, but the family ethic was similar.</p>

<p>In a way, we are better off (financially) than we were growing up (we ski more, camp less). But even though we donate a lot in time and money, I always feel that our parents gave more, and that in a way that makes us poorer than they were.</p>

<p>Someone earlier made a connection between wealth and health. It is probably not an accident that my parents (lifetime high annual income < 30K) died in their 60's, whereas my husbands parents (lifetime high annual income > 200K) are over 80 and still healthy and working.</p>

<p>"But even though we donate a lot in time and money, I always feel that our parents gave more, and that in a way that makes us poorer than they were."</p>

<p>Good point.</p>

<p>" Someone earlier made a connection between wealth and health. It is probably not an accident that my parents (lifetime high annual income < 30K) died in their 60's, whereas my husbands parents (lifetime high annual income > 200K) are over 80 and still healthy and working."</p>

<p>There could be a correlation, but my folks were wealthy, and my dad died at age 65 after spending 15 years with heart disease. (The stress of feeling the need to earn all that money/avoid the poverty of his childhood?) My mom died in her early 70's after enjoying a good life. I do understand that wealth can buy better healthcare. Perhaps the biggest factor to good health is to have a life one enjoys regardless of income level?</p>

<p>I live in a 1923 house that doesn't have any of the things you list except double pane glass. One of our cars has more features than I want, the other is a stick shift Corolla with no extras except of course air bags. We don't take cruises and our only overseas vacations have been tacked on to business travel. (It's been five years, but we are going to Scotland this summer - yay!)</p>

<p>But it's true we have plenty of things that we take for granted. Computers, TVs for one.</p>

<p>In my post I was referring to the 'typical' family. There are quite a few exceptions of wealthy parents, people who live below their means, etc. My point was that generally, people didn't have lifestyles as extravagant as those today (key word 'generally').</p>

<p>mathmom:
I confess to doing a family Scotland vacation a couple of summers ago. We really enjoyed ourselves. Have fun on your trip!</p>

<p>Health and wealth- no. Pick good ancestors. Around here there are a lot of obits for 80 and 90+ year olds, solid blue collar town.</p>

<p>Dh and I make a comfortable living (two-professional salaries) but neither of us are as well-to-do as our parents were, with one-salary apiece. Dh's father was a physician in the days when physicians made more than they do today, and my father was a successful businessman (without a college degree, amazing!!). We're not suffering by any stretch of the imagination, but we're not at their level. Good for them, though! They're all enjoying the fruits of their hard work in retirement.</p>

<p>we live in a house that is over a century old, in the city, the lot and building footage is less than half of what my parents had built. </p>

<p>They had all the typical accoutrement' of the day ( albeit only one stove, and even though I lived in * Bridle Trails* no horse!), but we still have dial-up!</p>

<p>We took a family trip to Disneyland when I was 13 ( we drove :( a microbus down the coast ), my kids have never been. ( and according to my inlaws- so deprived :rolleyes: )</p>

<p>I went to Missouri when I was three with my mother and our family took at least a week vacation every year, camping in the San Juans.
( but we take a week vacation skiing every year)</p>

<p>My oldest hadn't been on a plane, until junior year of high school... when she went to Costa Rica.
My youngest didn't go on a plane, until she was in 8th grade, when she took a trip with the high school marine biology class... to Hawaii!</p>

<p>While my parents didn't travel outside our region when I was growing up, as soon as my father died, my mom took a cruise to Alaska and since then has gone to Europe & taken a cruise through the Panama canal. ( I believe she refinanced her condo- which was originally paid for, to afford those)</p>

<p>While my mother ( still) spends a lot ( lucky for her, she was an only child) , I wouldn't want her life- she relies on her children for her entertainment, and hasn't worked since she was younger than I am now. I plan on never retiring- there is too much to do!</p>

<p>I get the feeling that the responses here tell the story of the well-educated doing better than their parents. This bucks the overall trend of the population that isn't doing as well as their parents are but then the vast majority of the population isn't highly educated.</p>

<p>I think the other story is that if you had well educated middle to upper middle class parents, it's very easy not to do as well as them. Both of us have "higher" degrees than our parents, but aren't in as high paying fields. And we definitely get zinged by how health and retirement is structured.</p>

<p>re last two BCEagle and mathomom- Education is certainly part of it, I am surprised by BC's statement that "the vast majority of the population isn't highly educated" as I thought the percentage of people going to college has been on the rise.</p>

<p>In my case, parents had higher degrees than me but the choice of job areas is what made the difference. Although my parents both had masters degrees, their choice of job, and choice of my mother to take many years out of the workforce, made them less "successful" than us. </p>

<p>They do have great medical insurance though, so the jury is still out on if we will be as well off as they currently are when we are retired, that's a whole nother topic..</p>

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<p>I was just thinking about my grandparents. My D's mom (his D died when my D was 17 (1942) had a nice house and apparently was well invested when she died (1967). Both she and my grandfather were uneducated immigrants. My granddad worked in a tire plant until he died. I never asked, but I wonder how my grandmother lived all those years without the income of a husband. </p>

<p>My M's parents retired to a small (but comfortable) house on 5 acres abutting a state park. Gramps was a retired tire plant worker. They both lived long lives (Gram was 91 when she died) and seemed very happy. Gram was able to collect antiques and they even traveled to Spain with their retirement group one summer. How were they able to do this? Were retirement pensions THAT good back in the day?</p>

<p>Sorry about the quote. I'm still trying to figure out how to use it. Let me try again.

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And we definitely get zinged by how health and retirement are structured

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<p>We live comparably to our parents, I believe, even to the point that I've chosen to be a stay at home mom (even with a master's degree in science/math education) like both our mothers. My husband's a working engineer. Actually, my staying home has been a godsend for the whole family, as I became the "24/7 family caregiver" for 4 aging/severely ill parents who lived with us from the time my kids were in middle school. Since the last surviving parent died less than a year ago and my youngest will be entering college this fall, I get to re-invent myself, and I'm looking forwad to it. :) We are also a family that tithes (the biblical 10%), and I know my folks didn't do that ... (not sure of husband's) and put back for retirement. We're quite comfortable, don't have any debt, except our home, so ... yeah, we're doing as well or better than our parents. </p>

<p>zebes</p>

<p>I grew up very poor. After getting kicked out of the house where my mother and I were live-in maids (because I was reportedly insolent by failing to stand when the owner walked into our attic room), we were taken in by a YMCA conference center. My mother and I lived there for three years until I graduated from high school, in a single room with no kitchen in exchange for daily work in the dining room. Ironically, my mother has a master's degree but wasn't happy with teaching and didn't consider money important. (She views my childhood much less traumatically than I do and happily lives in a small town in West Virginia now on basically fumes for income.) My H grew up equally poor. He was raised by a single parent who did not graduate from high school, never worked, or even drive. Needless to say, we put ourselves through college and grad school and are much better off than our parents. Our past, however, definitely colors our spending habits, which is to say we spend very little, and we expect our kids to hold down jobs as well as go to school (which both do).</p>

<p>Not sure who is better off. I grew up in middle class suburbia. My dad worked (technician with AA degree who had put himself through school) and mom stayed at home. We were not in debt and always had food on the table. Our vacations were always camping. We knew the budget was tight, but never suffered for it. And somehow they managed to put both kids through (state) college. Later, my mom went back to work and they managed to save enough to retire comfortably. </p>

<p>We live in a nicer house, have a lot more STUFF, and travel more. But we both have to work to make the mortgage payments. And I don't think we are any happier. We are putting our kids through college, although we expect them to contribute what they can (as we did). Except for the mortgage we have never relied on credit and refuse to take out any loans to pay for college (same as our parents). The kids will/are going someplace we can afford. Although I am not sure what happens if one of us gets layed off. Scary.</p>

<p>My parents worked to provide a life for us kids that was better than their lives. We worked to provide a life for our kids that was better than our lives.</p>

<p>Will my kids provide a life for their kids that is better than their lives?</p>