I thought I had it figured out at 22. It was June of 2006 and I was walking across the stage at my college graduation to get that oh-so-important piece of paper that told the world I managed to squeeze in enough studying over the last 4 years in between my socializing to deserve the title of college graduate. Not only that, but I was also there to cheer on my then boyfriend, now husband as he walked across to get his important piece of paper. We did what we were supposed to do now it was time to start bringing in all the money we were told was on the other side of these degrees. I imagined one of those terrible rap videos where the whole thing was people just making it rain on nice cars and pretty girls wearing next to nothing. Ok maybe not that extreme, but I definitely thought about the direct deposit hitting our account each month and then having a family meeting about what to do with all the excess.

“With the extra this month let’s surprise the kids with a Disney trip!”

“This month, let’s sponsor an orphan from those really sad commercials we keep seeing!”

Instead I entered in all our numbers into an online budgeting program and saw a negative sign in front of the number it gave us at the end. I didn’t get a math degree but I’m pretty sure if you want there to be excess, a negative sign in front of the number doesn’t seem promising.

Maybe you can relate to my story, maybe not. But chances are, you likely fall into the category of middle class like myself.

According to a 2021 analysis by the Pew Research Center 50% of the US population is considered middle class and the median income of a middle class household in 2020 was $90,131.

$90K doesn’t sound terrible, but when you consider the average asking rent in the US is currently $1900 a month, the average cost of center-based care for an infant in the US is $1230*, the average student loan payment is $393* per month and the average individual health insurance premium is $438*, it’s no wonder many of us don’t consider ourselves to be thriving financially.

If you were hoping for a “3 easy tips to get unstuck” kind of blog post, I’m sorry to dissappoint but this isn’t it. If you’re stuck in the in between it sucks. There’s no sugar coating it. And while each person’s path to getting out of the in between is different, and your plan to get there may be complex considering all of your unique circumstances, there is one request I want to leave you with: Do whatever you can to steer clear of survival mode mentality.

I know it’s easier said than done. I mean, isn’t a negative budget balance the definition of survival mode? Yes, and no. What I mean is, whatever it may look like on paper, avoid falling into survival mode mentally. You know, when you resign to eating Ramen noodles for the rest of your life and stress about every penny? I’ve done that before thinking I was helping us get out of the in between faster. All it did was keep us stuck there longer because being broke no longer was a temporary state, it became our identity. There’s a big difference and it will cost you more than whatever the opposite of Ramen noodles is.

Believing your best season is in front of you!

<3 Krista


Pew Research Center

World Population Review


Health Markets


World Population Review


The College Investor

2 Replies to “Stuck in the in between. When you’re not broke, but not thriving either.”

  1. I really feel this post! It describes how I feel exactly, we are comfortable, but there isn’t a lot of excess. I read somewhere that millennials are opting out of life insurance because they feel they can’t afford it.

    1. I’m so glad you can relate! And I wouldn’t be surprised about life insurance. I wish more people understood how important it is!

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