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Q: I have a bright child with big plans for her future. How can I help her start off on the right foot? In other words, will my middle-class child still be able to achieve the American dream?  


A: It's no secret that the middle-class seems to be shrinking.


According to the Pew Charitable Trusts' Stateline blog, the percentage of middle-class households — made up of those earning between 67% and 200% of a state's median income — declined in every state between 2000 and 2013. To top it off, the median income (adjusted for inflation) decreased in most states.1


This suggests many challenges lie ahead for kids growing up in today's unpredictable world.


While it may seem more difficult to achieve a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, the American Dream is not an impossible goal. Standard & Poor's 2014 economic research indicates that education spurs upward mobility: A college graduate earns twice as much as a high school graduate.2


Other factors may also help kids reach financial well-being. Hard work and financial savvy — coupled with a good education — may be integral in climbing the economic ladder. Keep encouraging your kids to dream big, but also give them the tools and advice to help them along the way:


  • Start talking about money early. Stress how money doesn't grow on trees — it is earned and should be respected.
  • Be open with your kids about financial matters. Talk about your own experiences and challenges. Be authentic: don't sugarcoat.
  • There is a difference between needs and wants. Reinforce the value of saving and budgeting. And tell them what happens when they fail to do so.


What does your American Dream look like? Share it!



1 Henderson, Tim. "The Shrinking Middle Class, Mapped State by State," The Pew Charitable Trusts, , March 19, 2015, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/3/19/the-shrinking-middle-class-mapped-state-by-state


2 "How Increasing Income Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide, " Standard & Poor's Economic Research, August 5, 2014, https://www.globalcreditportal.com/ratingsdirect/renderArticle.do?articleId=1351366&SctArtId=255732&from=CM&nsl_code=LIME&sourceObjectId=8741033&sourceRevId=1&fee_ind=N&exp_date=20240804-19:41:13