How does life in the U.S. vary for those with low, middle and high incomes? Quite a lot, according to a new survey. In fact, how much money people make plays a huge role not only in how they manage everyday and unexpected expenses, but how they regard their lives.

According to the survey by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, U.S. income inequality is at its highest level in 50 years.

And that's taking a toll on a great part of the population, affecting the essentials of life in ways that make it seem as if the opposite ends of the income spectrum actually live in different societies.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.