I was raised lower middle class. My parents have struggled with money their entire lives. They never went to college, and my father only has a high school degree through GED. They are in the 60s, divorced, and have no retirement savings or home equity. They are fine people, but will likely never be able to retire.
I wasn't taught the best financial habits. I was raised largely by my father, who lived beyond his means and accumulated substantial debts. Thankfully I got nearly a full scholarship to a private college, with the remainder covered by my summer income and a little money from my father and grandparents.
I had to teach myself everything, from dealing with credit cards to buying a home and establishing 403bs and IRAs. I could never rely on my family, so there were times when I had substantial debt, but I paid it off by being relatively frugal and responsible. Yet I was still able to travel all over the world, spending money on things that truly mattered to me. At 34 I own my home and a car I adore, hold no consumer debt, and my retirement account just crossed $75,000. I am junior faculty at a major university, and in about two years, I am likely to earn tenure in a job I love, and earn a six-figure income for the remainder of my life. One day I hope to build a dream home.
But the best part is that, with the help of great friends and colleagues, I mostly did it on my own. The feeling is better than a million-dollar trust fund.