Just a quick couple of notes about my rich man, poor man posts below. I went to Wiki and looked up the median national income. It's a little over $48,000 a year. The middle 20% of familes earn between $36k and $58k. I would speculate that an average-sized family could live a pretty basic middle-class lifestyle on that in most of the country. As I have pointed out before, in my hometown there is a disconnect between income and housing prices, which makes my examples seem a little skewed. And as both Becky and Pete have rightly pointed out, with a little common sense and self-control, it's not impossible to be comfortable on even a below-average income. I don't mean to suggest at all that a family making decent middle-class money in the USA is "poor," especially not by the standards of the rest of the world. I just wanted to point out that some of the folks we think of as "middle class" might consider themselves to be struggling, while some of the folks that many of us would call "rich" think of themselves as middle class. All of which seems petty if you really ARE struggling.
Since I teach, and do so in the same school from which I graduated, I often get asked about my own high school experience. I always say that the very best course I ever took was a personal finance elective my senior year (because I was too dumb and lazy for calculus). I firmly believe that if people made better financial decisions, many of their money problems would be avoidable. Like talk-radio guy Dave Ramsey says, "personal finance is only 20% finance, it's 80% personal."