Alvin Morningside, 46

It’s hard, you know? As a father, you want to be able to provide for your kids. You want them to have a better life than you did, to not have to go through the difficulties you went through. But now? I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that. When I turned sixteen I got my first car, a brand-new Camaro. Well, my son just turned sixteen and I had to buy him a used car. I nearly broke down right there at the Audi dealership. To not be able to give your son the things a boy needs, it … it makes you feel like you’re not a man.

Meredith Silver, 38

Some purchases have to be made. The yacht needs to be repainted. The kids need violins. But we’re trying to cut back where we can. Expenses that I didn’t give a second thought to even a year ago, I now have to put off until the economy improves. Most years, I’d buy a new dress for the country club’s annual ball, but not this year. Instead, I didn’t go. I suppose I could have worn a dress for the second time, but ugh, how gauche.

Blair Upton, 21

I’m hopeful that the economy will turn around by the time I graduate, but with soaring education costs I’m not sure that will be soon enough. My parents have some money, sure—just enough to make me ineligible for financial aid, which my family and I could really use. As it stands, I can pay for books, food, and stabling my horse at the nearest equestrian farm with a helipad, but not much else.

Tamara Lincoln, 18

I’ve noticed a difference. Some things I took for granted, some opportunities I thought I’d have, they’re not there anymore. When my older sister went to prom a few years ago, her boyfriend bought a stretch Hummer because he didn’t want her to ride in a rented car, but that didn’t happen for me. My boyfriend took me in his own car. We tried sticking our heads out of the sunroof of his Escalade, but it just wasn’t the same.

Duncan Miles, 41

Sure, I made some mistakes. I got caught up in the craziness of the times and lived beyond my means, but still, it doesn’t seem right that everything should be taken from me. I mean, should I have insisted that the indoor swimming pool in my house be put on the second floor, regardless of cost? No. I see that now. But I think of the generations of my family that have bought their way into Yale despite sub par academic performance, and then I look at my baby daughter and wonder, will she have to get in based on merit? It’s too much.

Ellsworth Applebee, 62

Recession? Hasn’t affected me much. But then again, I didn’t hit it big in the boom years, with all the dot-com and what have you. Through it all, I’ve been the same old Ellsworth. Every morning I put on the same gold watch, encrusted with diamonds from the same Congolese mine my family has always had. I put my pants on one leg at a time, with assistance from the same manservant I’ve had since the Reagan administration. I have the same fleet of Rolls-Royces, and live in the same house modeled after the palace at Versailles. I haven’t even embellished the statuary around the fountain. Call me frugal, but that’s how I was raised.