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(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class
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(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with people all across America, (Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents explores how stagnant wages, debt, and escalating costs for tuition, health care, and home ownership are jeopardizing the finances and futures of today's educated middle class. Despite this sobering reality, Nan Mooney offers concrete ideas on how we can arrest this ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published May 1st 2008)
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Aug 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: money
Just because the baby boomers got away with it (The Greediest Generation) doesn't mean we will. After all, THEIR parents had it tougher, as did their grandparents and so on. It was a fluke. High wages, pensions, cheap houses, health insurance, social security that pays out for four decades, and dropping costs of food and clothing (relative to inflation).

We should get over the idea that we'll have it better than our parents did. Or rather we should redefine the idea of what "having it better" sh
So I am not the only one? This book depressed the living daylights out of me. But it also made me feel, somehow, better. For the past decade or so I have often had to fight the feeling that I am a failure as an adult...despite my good grades, my Phi Beta Kappa membership, my fourteen years in a career I felt positive about and my generally responsible personality. Even more than failure, I have felt profound guilt. Guilt for being given every opportunity in life. Guilt for having wanted for noth ...more
Laura Labedz
Boring. I knew almost all of this information already.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yikes. Like many previous reviewers have stated, this is a disheartening read overall! If you're a young, educated member of today's American middle class, you're likely to find a great deal to relate to in this book, and most of it is pretty depressing. I did find some aspects refreshing, at least...the level of honest, candid disclosure on the struggles of an increasingly squeezed middle class. The rules have definitely changed since our parents' generation, and too often, I find economists/fi ...more

In the beginning the book grated on my nerves with people whining. But I decided to work myself through it any way because sometimes it's good to listen to an opposing viewpoint.

The book itself can be good reading if you are one of the many struggling middle class burdened with mounting debts and expectations of a supposed American typical middle class life and want to feel like other people share your pain. (sorry for long-ish sentence)

However, I'm not a proponent of more regulation and a bigge
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Nan Mooney set out to write an article about the struggles she was having as a single young writer living and working in Manhattan. She was on a book tour at the time and would tell her audiences what she was working on and ask them to talk to her if they had tales to tell.

Did they ever. What emerged is a clear and powerful indictment of the American middle-class dream, at least as it is idealized by so many. Her basic premise is that many of the younger, two-income couples she interviewed had d
This book is a “must read” for everyone in my generation. The author thoroughly researched and clearly presented the data that proves that people in my generation have less discretionary income than previous generations. The changing economy over the past several decades has had a significant impact on the distribution of wealth in the country, and reading this book helps to put it all in perspective. I highly, highly recommend it!

The only thing I didn’t like is the fact that Mooney focuses pri
I was anxious to read about the excesses we indulge in as middle class but this was not really in this book. Having had to cut our income by a third because we put our kids in private school, I am interested in books about budgeting, the state of the economy etc... This book had many interesting examples of people struggling to keep up financially. Her main argument is the government does not look out for the middle class enough: wages, health care benefits, retirement benefits, and housing oppo ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a relatively young woman who desperately wishes to have a child but has been restricted due to educational, career, and financial choices, I found “(Not) Keeping Up with Our Parents” reassuring to realize that I am not alone in my struggle. Nor have I erred in these life choices because I have been feed empty promises of success. Mooney has effectively illustrated the plight of the now struggling educated middle class who are burdened with financial hardships resulting from their choices to p ...more
Betsy Brainerd
Well-written and well-researched. Nan Mooney explains why it is so difficult for the middle class to keep its collective head above water. Rising health care costs, childcare costs, student loan payments and dampened salaries (particularly for those in the helping professions, including teachers, librarians, psychologists, and those in the arts)are making it difficult for many to purchase homes, save for retirement, etc. She talks about the myth that if you do the right thing - i.e., go to colle ...more
Started out good, bleak but really eye opening. Paints a picture of just how freaking hard it is for my generation vs. my parent's. Problem was it got too repetitive and eventually depressing. Chapter after chapter goes into just how messed up our economy and society is and how we will never catch up. Also, some of the examples made in the book were not very good ones. For instance, anyone shelling out over six figures in college loans has been mislead. Several of the people mentioned who are st ...more
Bill Erickson
Aug 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is clearly pandering to those who already feel the way the author does - that society (ie, the rich) isn't taking care of the working- to middle-class well enough. It is just the same argument over and over, extended through many examples and statistics.

It's actually a bit depressing and cynical. The author will use an example, like a successful artist that has sold out art shows, movies made from her scripts, and great reviews in the New York Times. But even with all this success, th
Sep 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book illustrates a lot of the issues that plague the middle class. If you are a gen X or gen Y individual who has a college degree (even a post-doctorate degree) and is struggling to make ends meet, this book will only fuel the fire of resentment already boiling inside of you. HA! No, seriously, I read this book because I found the title to be intriguing. All in all, Nan Mooney takes a very Socialistic approach to government and almost suggests that it's the responsibility of the wealt ...more
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely could relate to many of the insights made by the author. The author challenges the belief that if you go to college and obtain a degree, you will make more money, when in reality, that is no longer the case. One line of thinking teaches you to study what you love, but that theory fails to acknowledge that you have big bills to pay such as a mortgage, student loan, car payments, etc. At times, I wanted to say in acknowledgment, "Amen!," and at other times was frustrated and angry at ...more
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up immediately after reading Jennifer Government , a novel about a world where corporations have taken over and there is no government and almost no call for social responsibility. Nan Mooney argues that this is exactly the world we are heading toward in Not Keeping Up With Our Parents. She approaches many of the difficulties that people have in managing their finances today, including dealing with increased student loans, health care and child care costs, and a volatile ho ...more
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a dismal bunch of information on how the middle class isn't really an achievable goal for most, in spite of college degree or degrees. I wonder, though, how these interviews would have read if this had been written after the Affordable Care Act was in place for a few years. Making the choice between those things our parents seemed to be able to have achieved (owing a home, taking vacations, having retirement funds, adequate health insurance, and even paying for children!) seems to be beyond ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those of us who despair when we look at our bank accounts
(full disclosure: I work for the publisher...)

Do your student loan balances exceed what you make in a year? Why does it seem like we make less and less and owe more and more? Nan Mooney relates honest stories about personal finance--some horrifying, some familiar--that paint a grim picture of life in the professional middle class today. Many of us are reluctant to talk to our friends and family about our money anxieties, but this book may change your mind: it's likely they're experiencing the sa
Stuart Lutz
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very important and informative Gen X book, filled with facts interwoven with interviews of people. The book really sang to me the way few other non-fiction books have recently. Mooney correctly predicted that the housing bubble couldn't go on forever, and she discusses how some parents will still be paying off their college loans while their kids are off at college. I thought the last chapter was a tad too preachy, but I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't easy to read, regardless of what stage of your life you're in, but I feel it's realistic. Reading it at a young age and being aware of the "real world" will help you come up with your best plan as you finish school and start out on your career. ...more
The Librarian
This book confirmed my suspicions that Gen X IS working hard. We're just not getting the same bang for our bucks as previous generations...not by a long shot. ...more
A'Llyn Ettien
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking to get an engagingly-written book that will have you super-depressed about your financial prospects? Look no further!
The Moongoddess
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great look at the socio-economic crisis in America that many are facing as the middle class becomes almost non-existent. Another reason I like the book is because I am in it! :)
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
not recommended for anyone who'd like to sleep at night. jesus. ...more
Victoria Vogel
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All I can say about this one is......word.
Equal parts enlightening and frightening.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society-culture
Want to know why you feel like you're swimming uphill despite being college-educated & having a professional job? This book is for you. ...more
Rebeca Schiller
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Nov 27, 2008
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Aug 29, 2010
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Oct 21, 2008
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Nan Mooney is the author of three books and numerous articles for publications including the Washington Post, The Daily News,, the Utne Reader, Women's eNews and Alternet among others. She currently lives in Seattle with her son Leo and lots of rain. ...more

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