This is particularly shocking for anyone who grew up with some semblance of wealth, only to suddenly find themselves paying their own way. Striking out on your own and seeing the realities of the world can be jarring, especially for a young twentysomething accustomed to living a certain lifestyle.
So, when an AskReddit thread popped up discussing the experience of sliding from an upper-class lifestyle to a low-to-middle-class lifestyle, we were curious to see what users revealed. Ahead, five of the most revealing confessions from the people of Reddit. Share your own experiences in the comments.
I couldn't work out for ages why I had less money than the people on similar wages than me.
"I couldn't work out for ages why I had less money than the people on similar wages than me. They're never paycheck-to-paycheck like I am, but why?
"Simply because I'm used to having more. I go on a few holidays a year, but they'll save up for a big one. My taste in food and drink is more expensive and so is my taste in activities, I moved away from home for uni and then again [for] work, so I often travel to see friends, which I've never considered a holiday. I'm frivolous and I didn't realize it 'til I was in my late 20s." — realyak
Now, I'm 21, just started working this year and it's hard right now.
"I'm freelance, so some months I make really good money for my age/experience, but some months I make less and it's scary. I know it's mostly an issue of finding more companies that will call me when they need someone, and in a few years I should have either found ~10 studios to work for regularly, or gotten a steady job at one studio. It's just the beginning that is scary for me. Seing the people I work with that are over 30/40 makes me understand that they were once like me and now are successful and earning good money. I hope it's the same for me." — Haelx
I kept hearing that line from 'Lord Of The Rings': 'You are a lesser son of greater men.'
"Mom's parents were both doctors and, in fact, [grandpa] was up for a Nobel Prize in medicine in the '50s, but ultimately got a Lasker Award, instead. He and [grandma] traveled the globe doing research. Our home was filled with things from Africa, Brazil, and god knows where.
"Well, I'm not cut out to be a doctor. I went to college to be a mechanical engineer. You know what got me? When I was making my best, I got $63K; and I've been laid off since 2009. I kept hearing that line from Lord Of The Rings: 'You are a lesser son of greater men.' It was a massive mindfuck.
"Over the past few years, I have dealt with that. I have not worked due to a combination of a shit economy that doesn't need engineers and the fact that both of my parents are quite ill, as are my wife's parents. As I haven't been working, I'm the guy who can come charging in at a moment's notice and take care of crises — everything from getting my in-laws packed and moved to the assisted-living facility to moving in with dad for a few months when mom had her stroke and he was feeling horrible guilt about sending her into the nursing home because he couldn't take care of her.
"I am dependent upon my wife's income, at least for now, which has been hard to wrap my head around as an American man. But let's face it: If I were working as an engineer, would I have likely set the world on fire with my career? No. But can I set an example for my kids on how to love and support your family? Hell yes. And that will have a much more measurable impact on society than working as an engineer.
"I have been incredibly fortunate to have married a woman capable of supporting us both, obviously, but don't imagine for a moment that I don't work. I do. I just don't draw a paycheck from it. But we are both very grateful that I have this opportunity.
"TL;DR: money is not the most important thing in life." — oldforger
"I know, deep down, that I've had maybe 40% of the success that my parents had."
"But I know, deep down, that I've had maybe 40% of the success that my parents had. And that's all I'll ever have, more than likely. It makes you question things and changes your perception, for sure." — Beam7
I slunk back into my college town and took on jobs that I'd always considered beneath me: jobs with tips, jobs with hats and aprons.
"The next three years were the hardest my family has experienced. I sunk into a depression that led to withdrawing from school one or two credits away from a degree. My father invited me to come and help out with his new project, and so I went there with my fancy almost-college education and watched impotently as bad decisions, a bad market, and bad luck ate away my parents' life savings, month after insolvent month.
"With the inevitable foreclosure only weeks away, I told my parents I'd go back to finish school and start paying my own way. I was cutting and running, but my parents never blamed me; they only blamed themselves for not being able to give me gas money to get there. They went with the lie and wished me the best, thanked me for my help, and waved goodbye with brave smiles. I only made it a couple miles down the 95 before I had to pull into a gas station and cry into the steering wheel, with the odds and ends of what had been a nice upper-middle-class upbringing packed in my slowly aging car.
"I slunk back into my college town and took on jobs that I'd always considered beneath me: jobs with tips, jobs with hats and aprons. Part-time work at restaurants kept me afloat as I finished my degree. As I finally started learning how to manage my own life, I realized how much I had yet to learn about living and about other people. I never knew how EBT can mean the difference between a month that feels okay and a month of feeling vaguely hungry all the time. I never knew the amount of petty, sometimes unthinking injustice many employees endure from managers and customers, simply because there is no other choice if you want that paycheck. And I never knew that a person's level of education or income has very little to do with the worth of their character. Some of the best friends I have now are people I honestly would have dismissed as townies in my undergrad years.
"Next month, I'll be starting a full-time job with benefits, with enough pay to maybe help my parents out as they face retirement age. I thought about cutting up my EBT card, but now I think I'll keep it in my wallet to remind me of the wolf that is always at the door — and of the people who live their lives beating it back with brooms." — punnilinguist