Middle Class Photo Project - Most Recent
Kim Grant, Draper, Utah.
I was listening to this story on my drive home from my monthly grocery shopping trip. I was feeling very lucky that I have found a way to make our food budget work. Being middle class means we can take advantage of economies of scale. My husband and I were spending far too much on our grocery bill at our local grocery store. Nearly $800 a month just for two people, two dogs, and two cats! This left very little for even a movie night out or gas money for low-budget camping weekend. We've been looking for ways to save and I decided to spend the $50 for a Costco membership. This has allowed us to cut our grocery bill in half. I'm able to buy all our groceries for the month, taking advantage of buying in bulk. We freeze meats, bread, veggies, coffee beans, you name it! Now we only supplement with fresh leafy greens from the grocery store. Coffee costs us pennies a cup, and I bring lunch to work for about $2 a meal. It only takes $40 to provide quality meats for us for about 4 weeks. My big indulgence now? I spent $20 on two novels, which was more than 12 chicken breasts. I remember when I had $150 a month to spend on food, soap, and paper products when I was in college. Making it stretch was so very very hard. I'm frustrated that in our society, the people who need the benefits of shopping at Costco are the least able to take advantage of economies of scale.
Erin Buitendorp, Lansing, Mich.
This photo was taken the day I graduated with my masters in college counseling from Western Michigan University in 2010. I am the first in my family to receive a graduate degree. This to me epitomizes the stratification of the middle class. It became a necessity for me to go on for my education after I graduated in 2005 and the economy went downhill. I was one of many college graduates who grew up in the Clinton era of prosperity and then, began college when the White House leadership changed parties. I applied for multiple jobs after earning my bachelors degree and consistently found positions with the same salary as someone with a high school degree. I knew in order to find more opportunities, it involved moving out of state or going back to school. I chose going back to school since I knew I would not be as motivated later in life and I did not have the means to move somewhere with more opportunities, however a higher cost of living. Since I graduated, I found a university position in which I advise students returning to receive their bachelors degree at a university center on a community college campus.
Nicholas Dugan, Wyoming, Ohio.
This is a picture of my daughters' school backpacks. It was taken on the front step of our house. It represents both the comfort and the underlying insecurity of growing up middle class. Comfort because parents can afford to provide their children with everything they need to thrive, insecurity because their children will have to make it in the world on their own merits and abilities without the cushion of wealth. The harder the children work in school and the more they achieve there, the greater their chances of making a life for themselves as adults.
Angela Turner, North Las Vegas, Nev.
This is a picture of my son asleep in the back of the car on a family road trip to California. The car is second hand, his shirt was a gift and we are on our way to stay at Grandma's House. To me if represents middle class because thats what we are and that what we do. We more often drive then fly for vacations. We live on a budget and sometimes things are tight. But we always make it.
Jason Calizar, Torrance, Calif.
This is the view from the front porch of my modest home in beautiful North Torrance, California. It is of the American flag I fly proudly every day since I have owned the home. I chose it because there is nothing more American than being part of the middle class. The past five years have clearly shown how much the middle class supports this country from assisting those in poverty to bailing out those on Wall Street. And through it all, members of the middle class refuse to quit. We show up for work everyday and live our lives as best we can in the eternal belief that tomorrow promises to be better. I cannot think of anything more that defines the middle class or what it means to be an American.
Catherine Frost, Freeport, Maine.
It is a scene you would see driving around any middle class neighborhood in America. It speaks of creativity, initiative, resourcefulness, determination and an appreciation for what it means to earn your way, sentiments that I believe are integral to the middle class.
Michael R. Royce, Concord, N.H.
When I purchased this classic 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, I was doing very well as a computer software developer with over 20 years experience.
NOW, I have been a school janitor for over 8 years because I can not find a job in the computer industry.
There has been much news over the years of employers not being able to find very highly skilled qualified workers in the computer industry. Employers have testified for the need to bring in HB1 foreign workers. Not true at all! Hundreds of thousands of us very qualified US workers can not find "real jobs" and thus our American economy continues to spin downward.
Lisa Matlock, Homer, Ark.
My husband and I are both constitutionally and financially incapable of paying anyone to fix or build what we need fixed or built. Even after being half emptied prior to an impending move for job reasons, this garage represents the middle class and those of us who have to work for and on everything we own.
Giovanni Basque, Columbia, S.C.
The middle class proportionally pays the most tax and reaps the least reward. We have become prisoners to our careers and lifestyles. We often think we are accomplishing something until we wake up one day and realize the delusion that the treadmill of middle class America has painted on our psyche.
Joy Stoddard, Orchard Park, N.Y
I believe being middle class means having a garage sale and being excited about making $40. This is my friend Becky and me, showing off our "big earnings" after a sale we had at her place in Buffalo, NY. I believe being middle class means you don't ever have a brand new car. In fact for us, it usually means never having owned a car in the same decade that we're living in. Being middle class means only have one bathroom in our house. Being middle class means sharing a bedroom with at least one sibling. Being middle class means spending two full summers painting your own house. These are just a few of the things that I believe represent our financial "place" in society.