I studied in school and got called a nerd. I took harder courses in math and science, and my GPA suffered for it, but I got some tools I would need. I milked cows and split wood and cooked food from scratch for my family when I was a kid.
My first job in high school was weeding the gravel bed of a septic tank overflow. I followed that by cleaning cabins, mowing grass, and washing dishes. I rode my bicycle 7.5 miles to and from work.
I went to college with the help of grants and a small scholarship, but paid for it mostly by working through it and taking out loans which I paid off, since I made sure I didn't get in over my head. My parents were financially unable to help me. I shelved books, slopped food, sold records, and lived in dormitories until I got my first degree, after which I lived in a drafty garage. I bought my first car at 23 for $500. It was almost as old as I was.
I worked at a student job in user support for a couple of years, showed up on time and did an excellent job, teaching myself things I was not taught in school. I was hired as a full-time employee, where I was rewarded with a low salary but got health insurance benefits. I continued to prove my worth with my employer, eventually managing the team that ran the Univerisity's email servers, getting rewarded more and more as I developed and proved my worth to my employer.
I met a good, honest woman, a single mom with two kids, just scraping by and took them on as my family when I got my first full-time job making about $20K. We lived in inexpensive housing, eventually buying a house that cost about a third of what my contemporaries were paying for theirs. I've never bought a new car. I minimized the risks I took and paid off the credit card which had gotten up to a nail biting $6,000 while we took on our new house. I still have a couple but I pay them off every month.
The job I have has a pension plan, but I put away a few hundred a month in addition so that I might be able to enjoy my retirement a little more and I realize that Social Security may go bankrupt by the time I retire -- rather than spending it on new cars, expensive phones and data plans, though I do spend a little on things to enjoy today as well.
I give to charity, I give to my family, pay my taxes, I work hard, I pay my bills, I plan for the future, and I make conservative choices. I live responsibly.
I am the 53%.