I have a husband and two kids, and for most of our marriage, neither of us made more than $13-$14 per hour. When my husband was laid off, I had to take a second job to make ends meet. We were not poor, but we had to cut out non-essentials such as a car that wasn't used, eating out, going on vacation, etc.
It's amazing how many things you probably consider ordinary expenses are really luxuries. I shopped at thrift shops, bought reconditioned appliances, and cooked lots of casseroles. I have to admit, I did fall behind on credit card payments sometimes, but caught up as soon as I could. I think it's fair to say a LOT of Americans live like that.