So this explains the lean bank balance:
According to this Cookie Magazine article, which I found via one of my favorite blogs, Apartment Therapy, we don't make as much money as our parents did and we're hurting. Referencing Nan Mooney's book, (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class, it says:
American household debt has grown from 33.2 percent of disposable income to 131.8 percent in just under 50 years; hours worked by couples with children have risen 30 percent since 1975; approximately one in six households has zero to negative net worth. She offers vivid and varied portraits of the people who make up these numbers—people who find themselves in the "catchall category" of the middle class, whose work ranges from air-force pilot to faculty member at a prestigious medical school, with salaries between $30,000 and $100,000—all of whom are hanging on to financial stability by their fingernails.
The reason? Besides our society's tendency to buy, buy, buy (my guess here; I haven't yet read the book), Mooney says:
The crux of the problem ... is that inflation has steadily risen—the amount of family income devoted to housing, child care, health insurance, and taxes has gone from 53 to 75 percent in the last 20 years—but wages, for the most part, have not kept pace. So while the middle class of our parents' generation could comfortably achieve the American dream of raising a family and owning a house, today's middle class often finds it must choose between raising a family and owning a house—and still relies on credit cards and gargantuan mortgages to help pay for one or the other. Put simply, if 40 is the new 30, then credit is the new savings.