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I'm worse off than my parents

Even though they have jobs, many Americans find they aren't as well off as Mom and Dad were at their age.

Underwater on the mortgage
Underwater on the mortgage
Name: Ginny Gnadt
Age: 29
Hometown: Chesapeake, Va.
Occupation: High school teacher

I followed "the plan" to achieve the American dream and now I feel like I'm caught in a stagnant nightmare.

My husband now works for the Navy as a civilian and I am a high school teacher. We bought our two-bedroom townhouse nearly at the peak of the housing boom for $196,500. We're underwater on our mortgage with a high interest rate. I'm looking at having to stick with this house for eight, nine, 10 years.

I really would like to have two or three children, but I just don't think it's feasible to have that many children in this house. It's too small to have a family and it's not what I envisioned for myself when I followed the rules.

When my mom was my age, she was already living in a house where she would raise me and my three sisters. She had already achieved her American dream and I'm not able to do that.

All I want is to move forward and build a life like my parents had. Right now -- that is profoundly out of reach.


By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney - Last updated January 23 2012: 4:56 PM ET
Middle class dropouts

Nearly a third of Americans who grow up middle class face downward mobility in adulthood. And that's before the Great Recession hit.