Where do you come from?

Earlier today, Hillary posted a quiz on twitter about privilege and living in bubbles (I scored a 33), and it sparked a lot of interesting discussion about personal backgrounds.  I had what was, in my opinion, a privileged (and incredibly boring) up bringing, and I am always fascinated to hear about folks who had childhoods and family histories different from mine.  So, even though I think it was boring, I’m writing about my childhood in the hopes that other people might do it too.

I grew up in suburban Atlanta, in a solidly upper middle class area. My dad worked as a physicist in industry (optical fiber and the internet and other physicsy things), and my mom stayed home with me and my brother.  We went to public school, and though Georgia isn’t exactly an educational mecca, the school district we were in was one of the best public school districts in the country.  There was very little racial diversity – when I attended, my high school was something like 96% white, 3% asian, 1% everyone else.  We had what I consider to be a white picket fences sort of upbringing – mom at home, dad at work, we went to school and participated in various extracurriculars (sports, clubs, etc.).  I briefly played soccer and tennis, did swim team every summer, and ran cross country in high school. My brother did all the same sports, but for longer and at a higher level (I… preferred books).  I was never aware of money being an issue – if Johnny or I wanted to try some activity or pursuit, we could; if we wanted something (clothes, electronics) and could make a reasonable case for it, we’d usually get it for Christmas.  We were NOT allowed to quit our pursuits mid-season, which was different from a lot of our friends.  We took family vacations every year – sometimes to visit relatives, and starting when I was 10 or so, we’d go skiing every year.  Sometimes we got to take friends with us (because my brother and I would fight with each other, so I think it was more pleasant for my parents if we brought friends).
While I don’t think my parents ever allowed us to feel any economic hardships, they did work hard to instill us with good money management skills and work ethics.  My brother and I both had jobs in high school – I worked at an animal hospital, and my brother worked at Target.  In neither case did my parents tell us we had to work, but they encouraged us to do so as a means of making personal spending money, as well as to begin gaining work experience.  We both got allowances growing up (I think $10/week in high school?), but we weren’t spoiled as compared to our peers. Which means: our parents bought each of us cars, but they were older/used, and we had to pay for our own gas.  We had to do chores around the house, but I am pretty sure I was a total asshole about it.  My parents put a lot of effort towards us developing good financial habits – we had credit cards and savings accounts in our early teens, and started doing our own taxes as soon as we had jobs, even though we were both still dependents.  Which, now that I think about it, means our parents stopped claiming us as such (and thus didn’t get the tax credits), for that learning experience.
My family has always put a pretty high premium on education, and I think it was taken for granted that my brother and I would go to college.  Both of us went to an in-state school, which was pretty affordable (particularly with Georgia’s HOPE scholarship, which paid for tuition in full), and our parents paid for our room and board while we were at school.  They wouldn’t have been able to if we had chosen out of state schools, I think, but I’m not totally sure.  They also bribed us to be high achievers, by giving us any money we earned towards our tuition in scholarships (besides the HOPE one).  I worked all through college, while my brother didn’t – I worked at a climbing wall and in the gym, as well as in various teaching and research assistantships.  All the jobs were for spending money, though I ended up putting most of it into savings as well.
Writing all of that out, the thing that really jumps out at me most is that, while we both had to work hard and take personal responsibility for our choices, we had choices.  A LOT of choices.  And, probably more importantly, a very solid safety net.
My parents met while working at a summer camp in New England, and are both from New Jersey.  My mom worked for AT&T Bell Labs while my dad went to graduate school, and she got a degree in Occupational Psychology while she was working ( I think there was a free tuition situation through her job?).  My father got a job in Atlanta after he finished school in NJ, and they headed down here. My mom worked until she had my brother, and decided at the end of her six week maternity leave that she couldn’t send him to day care.  Once my brother and I were in school, she did a lot of volunteer work with our schools and sports teams, etc., and worked part time jobs on and off.
My maternal grandfather owned his own business (real estate maybe?), and my maternal grandmother stayed home with the kids.  They were solidly middle class, maybe upper middle.  I have no idea what my paternal grandparents did, but I think I remember my dad telling me they were middle class as well, albeit perhaps not the upper end.  My dad and one of his sisters are both physicists (my aunt works at NASA and is cool as hell), and his other sister is an estates lawyer (I think) in Manhattan, which as far as I know means she is really good at her job.  That whole branch of the family (including me and most of my cousins) is pretty graduate/professional school happy.
I am kind of excited to talk to my mom and fill in family details I have forgotten.  I’m having one of those moments of clarity where I realize how little I know about my parents as individuals, as opposed to just my parents.
I’m also feeling all hyperaware of privilege and I think I’m going to go quietly freak out about how to raise my kid to not be an entitled snobby pants.  Ack.  I know when I got to college, I was a total jackass and thought I knew everything and that I was smarter than everyone. I remember saying OUT LOUD that I thought people with southern accents were dumb.  Yeah, that was special.  Then I spent my undergraduate years in the Poultry Science department and that knocked a lot of the stupid right out of me.  THANK GOODNESS.
OK – now I feel boring and also kind of like an asshole.  Tell me about you!  You are more interesting than me!  Also, maybe my mom will turn up and set the record straight if I botched anything.  Hi, mom!
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12 Responses to Where do you come from?

  1. hbritger says:

    I worked for NJ Bell, AT&T, and Southern Bell as a Customer Rep, Marketing Rep and Market Manager doing research. I have a Masters in Applied and Industrial Psychology (tuition paid by NJ Bell). Dad got a job for Bell Labs after getting his PhD, when we moved to Atlanta.

    Gee, most of our vacations were camping to north Georgia, the Smokies, or Pisgah National Forest and out to Yellowstone when you were older. The ski trips were later on…

    Dad and I met at a YMCA/YWCA camp where I worked summers as a cook and dishwasher (I definitely didn’t want to be a counselor with a cabin full of kids). The camp was located in the Poconos, in the northeast corner of PA. (not New England). I worked weekends at the camp during college, for groups (Indian Guides, Indian Princesses, School Groups). Dad and I continued working some weekends after we were married. The draw was the great people we worked with and a love of camp… The location was beautiful, too. We would camp and hike with friends from camp in New England or NY state.

    Your paternal grandmother worked as a legal secretary for the Veterans Admin and had several other secretarial positions, while your grandfather did accounting work for several firms.

    Maternal grandmother worked as a secretary for the local high school, only had a couple years of college at an art school, and was later a stay at home mom and portrait artist. Pop had a real estate and insurance business in our home town, and employed a half dozen real estate agents. There were good years and bad years, cyclical just like today. I remember the early 70s were particularly bad for them…

    A lot of us thought we knew everything when we got to college but it didn’t take long to see you had gone from being a big fish at a small school to being with the top kids from all over the country. I remember there was a large number of valedictorians in my class in college… I had plans to go to grad school in Chicago in Camp Administration but Dad popped the big question… Afraid of losing him after four years away at school, I scrapped those plans and got married. Dad was in school, working on his PhD and we had little money. So, I got a job (there were hiring freezes at the time so I was lucky to get anything). The pay at NJ Bell was good, the benefits were great, the rent in Hoboken cheap, and the proximity to Manhattan was terrific. We went into the city often, and backpacked weekends on the AT. I thoroughly enjoyed living in the city, but was excited to have a house, driveway and garage in Atlanta. And, we would have had to make changes once we started having kids had we stayed in Hoboken. 32 years after we left NJ, I’m still surprised I live in the south some days… Anything else you would like to know?! Just ask…

  2. -R- says:

    Um, hello, my life was basically EXACTLY THE SAME AS YOURS. And I scored a 33 too. Only difference, both of my parents were poor growing up, and none of my grandparents had college educations.

  3. jonniker says:

    I don’t know why I tweeted this shit when I could COMMENT IT. I grew up broke, in a working-class town. I worked from the time I was 14. My parents (mom and stepdad) were poor. My stepdad had a shitty job at the time, my mom did temp work and it was just . . . rough. Not like, STARVING rough, but no extra money really ever. It’s funny, but one of the most pervasive phrases of my life growing up is, “We can’t afford that.” We lived in a little, sort-of shabby house that was pretty because my parents were SUPER handy. Not the best school district in town — in fact, the opposite. One of the worst. Hence my answer on that quiz about my neighbors not having college educations, because NONE of them did. My friends’ parents were factory workers and electricians and retail workers and postmen and lunch ladies. The one kid whose father was a doctor was pulled out of our district before high school and he was such a snobby ass that he didn’t even TRY to pretend they made it clear they thought he was better than that.

    I was about even with most of my friends, though. I didn’t know until I went to college (!!) HOW bad things were for a lot of us, although my biological dad had PLENTY of money, lived in the fancy part of town and my half brother had a totally different life than I did — he got a car (I never did), he got his college paid for (scholarship/loan city), he never had a job in high school or college (HAHAHAHAHA, I had both, all the time, and sometimes two at once).

    It’s a source of a great deal of anger to this day, particularly because I’m a parent now, and would never, ever punish one child that way. Never. I would never do that. And it was absolutely clear that it was a punishment, though the reasons involve custody and are too complicated to go into here.

    My childhood is complicated. Funny how I’m over so much of it (flat-out ABUSE, even), but I am not over that, because it’s kind of incredible.

    I went to Syracuse because it was where I got the biggest scholarship, and even then, I think my parents ate pasta for four years. College was the single biggest culture shock of my life, because I was quite possibly the poorest kid on campus. My roommate sophomore year had a Mercedes and a $1k/month clothing budget. Growing up, I wore TJ Maxx and shared my mom’s 1988 Pontiac Grand Am with the door handle falling off.

    I don’t think I’ll have a problem not raising my kids to be snobby and entitled, because I just . . . I sort of know how to do it, and I think you do, too. My husband, however, grew up in a ritzy town and was COMPLETELY entitled, so this should be a hoot now that we’re more upper middle class.


  4. jonniker says:

    Oh, and I grew up working on farms. Dairy farms. Yep, I can milk a cow, bitches.

    Also, this entire story might explain why it was the single biggest thrill for me to have two siblings with the SAME PARENTS, so that even if Adam runs off and leaves me for a stripper (as if), my kids won’t have to suffer the divorce alone like I did.

    • snoozical says:

      I learned to milk cows in college! So… at least we have knowledge of udders in common?

      I am still just completely gobsmacked that this sort of shit happens. Apparently to a lot of people! How do parents DO that?!? I want to go back in time to when I was a teenager, bitching at my parents about god knows what, and punch myself.

  5. Gaby says:

    I grew up pretty poor. Like, free lunches at school and winter coats donated by a church for our family (and we didn’t even attend church!) poor. You almost need a score card to follow my family tree, but the gist is that I have three half siblings–one mom, four different dads between us. My bio dad has been MIA since I was two, but my sister’s dad serves as my dad, so that worked out.

    My mom worked menial jobs (gas station clerk, video store employee), and my dad stayed home with my sister and me. He was a struggling musician/alcoholic, and he’d take my sister to my grandma’s during the day while I was at school, so I typically came home to an empty apartment. Being a latch key kid HAD to have contributed to my anxiety problems, I’m sure of it, because I distinctly remember cranking the tv as loud as it could go to block out anyone trying to break in…healthy!

    We lived in rentals my entire life. I remember once getting it into my mind that I could save my parents money by not washing my clothes as often, since we had a pay washing machine. That was ill advised, as the teasing I received at school let me know.

    I lived in and went to school in a suburb of Chicago that had a mostly upper-middle class population. I often envied the lifestyles and homes of my friends and classmates and never felt like I fully fit in. That could be due to having moved to three different high schools (pro tip: don’t make your kid(s) go to three different high schools! It was hell).

    We never took family vacations, although one of my sisters and I spent two summers with my grandparents in Arizona. I was not involved in sports or camps. I played the clarinet from 4th grade through college, but I never took private lessons because we couldn’t afford them.

    My mom met my step-dad when I was ten, and although he made more money, we still weren’t comfortable. We still lived in rentals and struggled to pay for anything. I started working at Target when I was 15, and I had to get a worker’s permit to be allowed to work at that age. I never had a car as a teenager (I didn’t even get my license until I was 24 because my mom and step-dad couldn’t be bothered to help me learn how to drive).

    I distinctly remember being at a crossroad, the day I realized I could follow the path my mom had, essentially give up, and no one would really question why, or I could bust ass and make sure that I’d never be like her; I chose the latter.
    I knew from the end of grade school that if I ever wanted to go to college, I’d have to pay for it myself. I researched and applied for scholarships, and I went to a small private school that offered a great financial aid package. I had also been awarded a private scholarship thanks to the help of my h.s. guidance counselor nominating me for it. While in college, I worked nearly full time (work study, as a resident advisor, and at a coffee shop), and still managed to graduate with two degrees in four years. I also paid my way through graduate school by working. My parents never contributed to the cost of school.

    I still struggle mightily with buying things for myself, even things I need. My husband and I are much more financially comfortable than I could’ve ever imagined being when I was younger–we own a home, we have two cars, we can pay for things that pop up. It’s a nice place to be, and I hope I can strike the balance between my boys knowing how to appreciate what they have without taking any of it for granted. Also, similar to Jonna above, it’s so nice to know my boys will be together. My biggest dream as a kid was for my family to all share one last name–mission accomplished!

  6. Lisa says:

    My parents married before they ever graduated from HS. (Shotgun marriage!) They lived with my paternal grandparents until my brother was born, then they moved to my hometown, where my dad worked three jobs and my mom stayed at home with my brother, and three years later, me.

    At some point before I was born, my dad got a job with the state highway department (IDoT) and worked his way up to foreman of a road crew. This was as high as he could go without a college degree, so when I was in 6th grade, he started night school to get a real estate license. The summer before I went into 7th grade he quit his job with IDoT and went to work for a local real estate agency and my mom — who’d been a SAHM all this time — went to work at my elementary school. (Where she worked until December of 2011, btw. Thirty-four years.)

    When I was beginning 9th grade, my dad and a friend were successful enough that they left that agency and formed their own agency that my dad still owns today. My older brother and I got to go to college, but we had to work for spending money (my older brother worked for the college, I worked at a Bible bookstore), and we have no student loan debt. I know my parents got loans for our school, but they weren’t in our names, and I’m sure they were just short-term loans.

    My YOUNGER (18 years younger than me) brother was born when my parents had already become successful, and he had a a completely different life than we did. He never worked in HS, got a brand-new car on his 16th birthday and a different one on his 18th. He didn’t have to work in college. He’d probably get a 20 on that test. :) It’s amazing how different our upbringings were and we had the same exact two parents.

  7. kakaty says:

    I grew up in a midwest factory town of about 50,000. (Fun fact! It was the town featured on Oprah for rampant heroin addition) The main industry (that I recall) was factory work…Westinghouse, GM plants, steel, etc. I’m the youngest of 3 and we moved into the 4-bedroom, 2-car garage childhood home I remember when I was 2. My father was an HR/Union director at Westinghouse, my mother a teacher. My mom didn’t teach for the 11 or so years between when my sister was born and when I started Kindergarten. I only remember her as a teacher, not a SAHM. We were pretty solidly middle class. Our town wasn’t lily white and I went to public schools where classes were about 50% white, and 50% african american. I don’t recall friends of other ethnicities.

    When I was in the 8th grade (my sister was in college, my brother a HS freshman) my dad lost his job and found a new one as an Administrator at a community college in a town about 2 hours away. We moved to a smaller town of 40,000 that was heavy into building army tanks and has an big oil refinery… an interesting mix of factory workers and scientists. We lived on a side of town that was much more homogenous and upper-middle class. My high school was much more white than I was used to, but there were also more nationalities there. If you got outside our bubble it was either very urban or very hillbilly.

    My mom is Polish, 2nd generation american born. She grew up in a blue-collar family and was the first in her family to go to college. Her father worked his way from laborer to management at a glass manufacturer and her mom was mostly a SAHM but occasionally cleaned offices. My dad had a wealthier upbringing, both of his parents went to college. His mom was a teacher and his dad was a gas station owner and gum ball salesman who became a politician when my dad was in high school. His mom (my grandma) had a comfortable childhood while his dad (my grandfather) was the youngest of 13 and grew up poor on a farm. He ended up being a State Senator for 23 years. To say that visiting one set of grandparents was different from the others would be an understatement. But, because of them, I know how to milk a cow, kill a chicken, fish, have good manners at a high-society country club dinner, and clean a house within an inch of it’s life. Both my grandfather and father were in the service (Navy – WWII, Air Force -Vietnam respectively) .

    During my young childhood we vacationed in a 1 bedroom apartment at a lake in Indiana where other family members joined us. Sometimes we would visit family in other cities like Chicago or Philadelphia. I remember 4 big trips: Disney when I was perhaps 7 and again when I was 10. A ski trip to West Virginia when I was about 11. And Seattle when I was 17. We always went to Cedar Point (a big amusement park about an hour away) a few times a year; a least once as a family then 2-3 times with friend’s families. And we’d spend long weekends visiting grandparents.

    My sister took dance, my brother and I both swam on the team for a semi-private swim club in the summers, and played soccer. We all played instruments in school and even each took a year or two of private lessons. We went to summer camp. We all skied every weekend a tiny local ski hill (I learned when I was 5). In high school my sister was a cheerleader, my brother played football and swam, and I swam, played soccer and was in marching band. Any fees associated had to be paid by us kids. Fun fact: when we moved between 8th and 9th grade my (used) clarinet got lost. If I wanted a new one for high school I had to promise to play all 4 years no matter what. I agreed. Then I HATED marching band at my new school but was stuck doing it until I graduated. I never did like it. Like you, we were never allowed to quit anything mid-session. If we signed up we were doing it. There was one epic day-camp battle in the 4th grade. I went with my BFF and we hated it. She was allowed to quit, I had to go for the full 2 weeks. It sucked.

    All three of us were expected to work and go to college – we were to contribute to our tuition – and pay for some of our activities. I remember our 8th grand class trip to NYC was $600. My parents paid for it upfront but I had to pay them back by the end of the summer after 8th grade. I started babysitting at age 11 and babysitting is what paid for my trip. A few weeks before I turned 16 I had to start applying for jobs. My sister (7 years older) worked at McDonald’s for years. My brother (3 years older) at Sears and my first job was at Things Remembered (which was a kiosk in the mall). In the summer’s I also worked Dairy Queen for a second job. Diary Queen was seasonal so it was a perfect fit with my sports schedule in the fall and winter and I worked there for 3 years in high school. The summer after my freshman year I started lifeguarding at a country club. I kept that summer job throughout college. For a second summer job in college I worked for the Department of Transportation on road construction crews. It was a MAJOR education in may ways. It was a good-paying but physically demanding jobs. And I was an 18 year old girl working with a bunch of 30-40 year old guys. Educational to say the least. I’m not sure I’d want my daughter going through the same thing, but I learned a lot about how to handle myself during those summers. I was expected to work in college and got a job in the student calling center to ask alumni for donations. I filled that in with extra hours doing data entry in the alumni office and worked about 30 hours a week along with my 15-18 hour class load. These college jobs lead me to my career today – I’ve been a fundraiser ever since.

    I don’t remember any money issues as a child but when I look at some things from an adult perspective now I know there were times when money was tight. But as a kid I never felt it except for one time. When my dad got that new job it was during the school year and the housing market was soft. So he got an efficiency apartment there and was home on the weekends for several months (maybe 6-8) until our house sold and then we moved.

    Other stuff:
    I had a car – it wasn’t mine but mine to use – when I turned 16. Part of this was the function of being the youngest. My mom was DONE driving kids places so they bought a 3rd car for my bother and I to use. It was a 1988 Plymouth Horizon (The Ho, we called it). But since my brother was at college it was basically mine. I used it throughout high school and college but had to take care of insurance and gas. My parents paid for maintenance until I learned (via my job at the DOT) how to change oil, spark plugs, etc then I did it myself.

    College was a mix of savings and federal loans. Loans that maybe I’ll pay off before I’m 45. All three of us kids went to state schools (fun fact! my sister and I went to the same school as my parents and paternal grandparents. I was the 27th graduate of that university in 3 generations). My bother got kicked out after his first year but eventually finished via community college and work-paid tuition.

    Church was a given and until about 10th grade I was pretty active in youth groups. Then I had a falling out with the church and have never really been back. But most of my childhood memories involved people we met at our Lutheran church.

    Chores were also given and no preference was given to gender – we all mowed the lawn and did laundry equally. Allowance was $4 a month until we got our own jobs. Ha! What a joke.

    Any money that we got in the forms of gifts had to be split between savings and spending. Christmas and birthday’s usually meant one biggish gift and 1-2 piratical gifts (clothes, books, etc.). Birthday parties weren’t a given – we alternated between siblings so I had a friend party once every 3 years. On the off years it was just a family celebration.

    After taking that quiz, I realize that my parents worked pretty hard to make sure a middle to upper middle class childhood wouldn’t make us snobbish. But I find this stuff fascinating! Oh, and I got a 49 on the quiz.

  8. Noemi says:

    I’m the child of two academic professionals- my father is a tenured professor at the University of North Carolina, and my mother was a head lab technician for most of my childhood, until she went back to school at 45 to become a genetic counselor (now she is head genetic counselor at UNC’s cancer research center).

    We lived (my parents, myself, and my younger brother) in a middle class neighborhood of young families, most of them associated with the university. As Chapel Hill grew bigger, additional developments popped up with larger houses, but our first house was a three/2.5, and the house my parents bought when I was 14-ish (in the same neighborhood) is a 4/2.5.

    The part that informs the rest of everything is that my mother is Parisian, and my parents met at the Pasteur Institute during my father’s post-doctorate work. The fell in love, and when his student/work visa ran out, he asked her to come back to the US with him. My mother agreed, on one condition- she be allowed to return to Paris at least once a year to see her family.

    Thus my first international flight occurred in the womb- and every summer thereafter my parents would pack us up (my brother is 4 years younger) and we’d fly to Paris for… Oh, I don’t recall now, but it must be something like 2 weeks- my parents rarely took vacation days for anything else.

    So that’s where most of their money went. We shopped at thrift stores, and clipped coupons, and my peers often got way more extravagant gifts for the holidays than we did. At the time, I’m sure I was a raging asshole about it, but now I think to myself: What an IDIOT you are. NOT EVERYONE GETS TO GO TO PARIS EVERY SUMMER YOU JACKASS.

    I didn’t get a car at 16, though when my mother went back to school (in Virginia), I got my dad’s old car so I could shuttle myself and my brother around to after school stuff- and that 1988 Corolla is the car I took to my very first job out of college in Boston.

    I was expected to, and did, go to college, and my parents paid for ALL OF IT (same thing for my brother, plus he spent a year at a fancy prep school trying to get noticed by hockey scouts). I went to a very expensive Pennsylvania private school, and received no aid of any kind (because we didn’t file the paperwork properly- I don’t know if I would have qualified). I spent my Jr. year back at UNC, which cost my parents next to nothing, which is probably why they don’t have any lingering debt from the three years I did spend at Bryn Mawr.

    Both my parents grew up at times very poor, and that must have stuck with them, because we were raised to be frugal and to save money- I started baby sitting at 10, got my first real job at 13, worked for spending money all through college, and every summer in between. My mother almost never bought us those sort of “status” things everyone had- I recall Guess? jeans in particular being the IT thing at some point- if I wanted that sort of thing, I had to buy it myself.

    When I took that quiz, I thought I’d score super low- VACATION IN PARIS EVERY SUMMER- but I ended up with a 35.

    Sorry about the NOVEL length reply!

  9. I got a 36 on the quiz; I thought it might be lower, but living in Canada likely affected the number.

    I’m the only child of a research food chemist (fats and oils) and an elementary school French teacher. Teachers here in Canada are paid very well, so I had an upper middle class upbringing in a solidly middle class suburb of Toronto. My parents met through mutual friends when my Mom was finishing up her undergrad, and they married right after she finished teacher’s college. They were married for 5 years before I came along — we lived in suburban Montreal then – but my Mom couldn’t have any more kids, so our 4 bedroom suburban home with pool was certainly spacious enough for us! My Mom did work, but she had almost 3 months off a year with summers and breaks, so that was great.

    My Mom was 8 when she and her parents immigrated to Canada from Italy. They landed in Eastern Ontario, not too far from where a part of my Dad’s family had been since they came to New France/came north during the American revolution. While both sets of grandparents highly valued education, the depression and the war (especially my Nonno — who spent 5 years as a POW) really limited their access to education. They were lower middle class — my paternal grandparents ran a small grocery store, my maternal ones worked construction or cleaned), they were insanely frugal and encouraged all of their kids to get post-secondary educations. All of them did. It was never a question that I’d go to University. The family joke is that I told my Nonno that I had a big decision to make — should I go to the alma mater of my parents/aunts/uncles, or to my eventual alma mater. He joked that I should probably start Kindergarten first.

    Having grown up in poor, hard-working families, my parents work ethic and frugality rubbed off. I didn’t have my own car until I got married (I was 27) and I still share it with Dave. I baby-sat from 12 on, and though Dad forbade me from getting a part time job during the school year, I did work summers and did some cool part time anyway (as a teacher’s aide at a night course for differently-abled adults, for example). I was involved in pretty much every arts/student goverment thing in high school, and was a student government nerd in University. Tuition here in Canada was/is really reasonable, and I paid for tuition and books through scholarships & work while my parents paid room and board. I got enough in scholarships that I came out of grad school with my savings intact (which sure helped with the down-payment for our house).

    The one area in our lives where my parents splurged was travel. We went on 2 or three vacations a year — all over Canada and the States, and eventually to Europe. I did two study abroads while in University, and have continued to travel. I’ve been to 34 states, 9 provinces, and nearly 40 countries at 34.

    I probably skewed lower because of my exposure to my inlaws, who live in my childhood hometown. My MIL and FIL don’t have post-secondary educations, nor do my BIL and SIL. They former worked unionized factory jobs, the latter work similar ones in grocery stores. They’ve done really well, but our interests don’t overlap all that much.

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