Sue Leroux, Honolulu, Hawaii

Grampy(far left) was born in 1908 to immigrants and never went past the 8th grade. He hooked up with General Motors where he got job security, a good living wage and a technical education. He retired at 57 and lived to 92 without debt. I lived the legacy of a good education leading to a good job in corporate America. My husband(right) was a Viet Nam vet and the first kid to graduate from college in his family. His income history roller-coastered from $0-150,000 a year. Our life together brought us a middle class income, lifestyle and benefits, the money to pay for day care and college and, at times, crushing debt. Both our children grew up wanting nothing, got college degrees and entered a world of non-career jobs, following dreams, and traveling light. No financial security, no marriages or kids, but very strong survival skills and a network of friends and family that love and cheer for them. I consider all these scenarios part of the middle class. ..so I think I've convinced myself it's more about the values than the $$

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