Remember the Jones family? They were the neighbours next door who got the new car that your father coveted. The difference is, when your father went out and bought a better car, he could probably afford it. These days, consumers are purchasing way beyond their means because they don't know any different. They still think they are middle class.
"Whenever you talk about the middle class, they are no longer middle income, but they do want or expect the middle income lifestyle. And a whole lot of them are deeply in debt, more so than ever in history," says professor David Hulchanski.