The term middle-class  evokes images of a suburban house, a SUV, an iPhone, and a green lawn. It may not be a life of lavish luxury, but you don’t think of middle-class Americans as just, getting by. An article by Neal Gabler in The Atlantic entitled, The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, reveals that behind the sheen of financial stability in the middle-class, is a malaise of monetary problems that Gabler refers to as, “financial impotence.”

According to the Federal Reserve Board, 47% of Americans would not be able to pay 400 dollars if an emergency arose. Even an established writer like Gabler found that he was scrambling to pay bills and provide for his two children, despite having a decent paying job. Gabler's situation is not unique, yet he says that people are more willing to talk about their viagra use than the shame of having “financial impotence.”

“So if you really want to know why there is such deep economic discontent in America today, even when many indicators say the country is heading in the right direction, ask a member of that 47 percent. Ask me,” Gabler writes.

"So many people live with a shame and stress," said Havard Business School historian Nancy Koehn on the middle-class' financial problems on Boston Public Radio.  "None of this is surprising." 

Koehn attributes the “financial impotence” that Gabler writes about to financial illiteracy, stagnant income growth, and the increase of consumption. "Our savings rates are very low... people are not necessarily thinking about saving for retirement, how much you’ll need for example in 30 years," she said. 

The price of living a middle-class lifestyle continues to rise, says Koehn. "Think about all the things we have, we are just consuming more. There's the  increased cost of health care and high education. Think about what we buy that we never used to buy, cell phones, Ppads, service plans," said Koehn. "We buy more and think we need more than we used to."