NPR logo Jay Castillo's California Dream

What's Your CA Dream?

Jay Castillo's California Dream

Over the last several weeks, we've asked Day to Day listeners to share their California Dream with us. Fame, health, satisfaction, blue sky or innovation — what defines your version of the California Dream? Is the economy forcing that dream to change? Every Tuesday we'll be sharing your responses both on-air and here on Daydreaming. First up, listener Jay Castillo: Me and my wife are first generation immigrants from the Philippines who came to the US back in 1982.

Jay Castillo

Me and my wife are first generation immigrants from the Philippines who came to the US back in 1982.

In 1986, we met at Carson High and remained high sweethearts throughout college and my 4 years in the US Navy.

After finishing college and starting our careers, we got married in 1995. We had our first baby within a year, and also bought a house in 1996.

In 1998, we turned our first house into a business that we partnered on with the in-laws, we and lived with them for a few years. My wife stayed at home and helped run the business, while I pursued my career.

In 2003, we bought our 2nd house, which is our primary and private residence today.

In 2006, my mother in-law passed away, and we closed the business. We sold our first house for a nice profit before the real estate market busted.

Today, I'm 40 and my wife is 39, we have 3 kids, ages 12, 8 and 2. We have one mortgage - no second mortgage — but we do have some some credit card debt built up. Our two cars are paid for but both are around 10 years old.

Wife is still a "stay at home." I have a sub-prime loan which I re-financed in 2006 and that's due to jump to an 11% loan in 2009. I saved some of the cap gains from the house and put it in a conservative mutual funds. Our cash reserves have dwindled, and we're spending more what I take home from my pay.

I've been in the same job for the past 7 years, and I've not had a salary increase. The bonuss are unpredictable, but they do come.

I put my kids through a private Catholic school and pay $6k a year in tuition for the 2 older kids.

I put some savings in 401k, and about $100 a month for the 2 older kids college fund.

I'm worried about what will happen in 2009. Mortgage qualification? New car purchase? The prospect of looking for a higher paying job?

Still, I've gone from a 13-year-old struggling immigrant who got here in 1982, who outgrew hus old clothes and had inherit used clothes (bell bottoms jeans) from my uncle, to a the working middle class. I'd say I've had a taste of the American Dream.

If you'd like to share your California Dream, go here.