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Changing expectations: The new ways Midwesterners are planning ahead

Clockwise from top left: Ella Bensen, Duane Larkin, Erika Wozniak, and Shawn Brandli with his fiancee

Changing Gears is partnering with Michigan Radio to collect stories about how people are planning ahead in light of the recession. You can read more stories about how Midwesterners' expectations are changing at the Changing Gears tumblr blog, http://chgears.tumblr.com.

Here's what some Midwesterners are saying:

"I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but we couldn’t have just one source of income and raise a family. Our fix? I opened a day care in our home. I treat it as my small business – which it is - and raise our child along with 3 others in her age range." -Ella Bensen

"It’s hard to watch our friends who have been able to retire and start doing all of the traveling and other activities that we can only imagine, but we feel lucky to still be employable and working, as opposed to others we know who are in serious distress with few prospects for improvement." -Duane Larkin

"My student loans have become this giant scary number that won’t go away. I feel like I have, in a way, put my life on hold because of the giant scary number. I cannot, in good conscience, get married, buy a home or have a baby when I owe so much money..." -Erika Wozniak

"I will probably not do as well as my parents. I just don’t see the possibility of getting a job that pays that well or is as secure. I don’t feel confident in the way we are dealing with things as a nation." -Shawn Brandli

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. If you want to learn how to be a part of our network, click here.