Definitions Of A Middle Class Income: Do You Consider Yourself Middle Class?

Middle Class Neighborhood

I have a theory the majority of us, no matter how little or how much we make, consider ourselves part of the middle class. When I worked at McDonald’s for $4 an hour, I was dirt poor, but considered myself middle class because both my parents had jobs and I had a bicycle and a cozy home to come home to.

When I finally graduated from The College Of William & Mary and started making more money, I felt poor because all I did was work in expensive New York City! For example, I shared a studio with a high school classmate for $2,100 a month and that was in 1999. It was only until I moved to San Francisco did I feel I was part of the middle class again. Money was more plentiful, a starter home “only” cost about $1,100,000, and I had more free time to explore.

I’ve experienced all three classes to varying degrees and I believe there are wonderful merits to each of them. From the poor Haitian immigrant who goes to college and becomes the first black female mayor in Utah, to the billionaire investor who gives 99% of his net worth to charity, everyone tends to come to center. My favorite class is the middle class. But first, we must define what middle class means.


Standard Definition: $25,000-$100,000 a year is what most would consider as a middle class income. The $75,000 spread accounts for the wide cost of living differential between places like New York City and Fargo, North Dakota. Everybody who lives in NYC or San Francisco will tell you that $25,000 a year is poor. There’s just no way to get ahead, support a family, and one day retire with that type of income.

If you’re making $100,000 and live in Des Moines, Iowa, then you’re living large. The last time I was there, I had a fantastic ribeye steak for $20 bucks and saw a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3,000 square feet houses go for $180,000. When the cost of an entire house is only 80% more than your annual income, you know you’ve got it made!

Mitt Romney’s Middle Class: GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out and said the middle class is “$200,000 and $250,000 or less.”  The $200,000 refers to an individual, and $250,000 refers to a couple. Why $200,000 + $200,000 doesn’t equal $400,000 still baffles me. The government is sexist and it takes people to really care before math can change. There just aren’t enough individuals who earn $200,000 each and get married. Hence, the rest of us who are not affected will let sexism continue.

If you live in an expensive coastal city, $250,000 for a household isn’t exactly rich since about $65,000 of your income goes towards taxes. You can afford a car, take a couple weeks of vacation a year, max out your 401K and send your two children to private school. But if you ask any $250,000 a year couple whether they think they are rich, I’m sure most would privately tell you no. It costs $1.5 million here in San Francisco to get a decent house in a decent neighborhood. That’s 6X a $250,000 household salary.

President Obama’s Middle Class: Obama’s middle class is also $250,000 per household or less. He just doesn’t say it! Instead, he says “the rich” are those who make $200,000 or more as individuals and $250,000 or more as households. Strategically, this is a better way of getting more votes because there are mathematically less people to anger. If you say “the middle class is $250,000 or less,” you run the risk of angering a huge portion of the 95% of people who make much less because they might think you’re out of touch with reality.

Mitt and Barack have the same definitions of what a Middle Class income is, but they say it differently. In politics, you have to be careful with verbiage. Math always triumphs at the end. If you can get 50% of the 95% of the population who makes $200,000 or less in America to vote for you, it’s much better than getting 100% of the 5% of the population who makes more than $200,000 on your side! Thankfully, these bozos on 1/2/2013 came to a Fiscal Cliff compromise and raised the definition of “rich” to now $400,000 for singles and $450,000 for couples.

Financial Samurai Definition Of Middle Class: If you make within +/- 50% of your city’s household income for your age, you are middle class. For example, the average household income in San Francisco is ~$80,000. A person making $54,000 – $120,000 can comfortably consider himself or herself middle class.

You can also consider yourself middle class if you are making + / – 50% of your city’s median house price. Using San Francisco again, the median house costs $1.1 million. Therefore, if you are renting or own a property worth about $750,000 – $1,600,000, you are also considered middle class.

The cost of living in Des Moines, Iowa is obviously much lower, and incomes and home prices will adjust accordingly. Income is only one part of wealth. I highly recommend people focus more on building net worth over income.


1) We adapt very quickly. Remember how fast the excitement went away after getting into college, getting a promotion, a holiday present or receiving a nice big raise? After about a couple months, we revert back to feeling like our old selves. We could be very upbeat selves in general, but we no longer feel that high of a big win. I have a friend who makes a million dollars a year, but considers himself middle class because his other friend makes tens of millions of dollars a year! The hedonic treadmill gets us all.

2) Nobody likes to feel inferior. If we so happen to earn below the median household income of $55,000 in America, we should realize we are “below median” and perhaps “below average” in household income generation. But, nobody likes to feel below average in anything which is why the term “lower class” sounds derogatory! Instead, we’ll find a way to justify our below median income by saying we live great, happy lives, and are doing things we love to do. We’ll tell ourselves making less is a choice, that grades don’t matter, and that money isn’t everything. There are certainly truths to all these reasons. Happiness stays constant above a certain income range, so there’s no reason to justify why we are poorer than average, but we curiously do.

3) We are scared of being murdered. The more you make above the median household income, the more you need to fear for your life. A lot of wealthy people cannot control the urge to splurge the more they make. It’s just natural to buy fancier cars, wear nicer clothes, and live in bigger homes. You only live once is Gen Y love to say! All is good until you realize there’s a stranger standing in your living room with a butcher knife ready to splice open your guts unless you give him all your valuables. We are seeing an uprising by the people against anybody who has more. We also see the government take away more of our income the more we tell them we make. By projecting we are middle class, we avoid the uprising, deflect criticism, and get to join in the hunt.

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person by Financial Samurai

* The above chart is my calculation for the average net worth of the above average person. I use Personal Capital’s free financial software to not only methodically track my net worth, but manage my cash flow and run my investment portfolios at least twice a year through their Portfolio Fee Checker. I discovered I was paying $1,700 in fees I had no idea I was paying! Personal Capital also has a great Retirement Calculator where you can run your numbers to see whether you are on course. The above average person takes action and leverages free technology to his or her advantage.


I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and I will unequivocally tell you that being right in the middle is wonderful. When I was poor, I was insecure about my future. I wondered whether I’d ever be able to earn enough to buy a home and raise a family. I worried I’d amount to nothing in my parents’ eyes after spending so many years in school. Envy, a feeling I despise often entered my body as I saw friends take wonderful vacations and drive new cars. Why them, not me? Protesting big corporations and those who have more made me feel better.

When I was rich, I wondered whether I really was as evil as people painted out rich people out to be. Self-doubt began entering my mind as I questioned whether I really deserved to make what I was making. There is so much poverty in the world, I began to feel guilty about my wealth. As a result, I worked harder by getting into work earlier and leaving later. I then spent hours at night working on my online endeavors, so that one day I could no longer have to work and return to the middle.

Now that I’m back in the middle in “retirement,” life is more carefree. I know politicians are now on my side because they need the middle class vote to remain in power. I no longer fear being ostracized by others for earning an above average wage because I am average. There is less insecurity about my future because I have a house, some clothes, and a beat up car named Moose to get me around. I now spend time connecting with others online through my sites, sharing my knowledge and learning what I can from all of you.

The income definition of middle class is whatever we want to project! We work hard to provide for ourselves and our families. We take action to save money where we can. We realize the importance of community and rely on each other to flourish. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that being average is not good enough. Being middle class is what makes all our countries great!



* Manage Your Money In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their brand new Retirement Planning Calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

* Looking to make extra money? I’ve recently tried out driving for Uber because they are currently giving up to a $300 bonus after you make your 20th ride. After 25 hours and 53 rides, my gross pay is $32/hour, which is not too bad! I can see how people can easily make an extra $2,000 a month after commission and expenses with Uber or any ridesourcing company. I’d definitely sign up and drive until at least the bonus . Every time I plan to drive somewhere, like my main contracting gig down in San Mateo, I’ll just turn on the Uber app to try and catch a fare towards the direction I’m going. Why not make extra money?

$32/hour is a huge pay cut for me and it’s a humbling experience as well. But discovering the whole ridesourcing experience first hand is fascinating! I’ve got so many stories to share in the future about my experiences picking up random people. You can make $40,000 a year easily if you work a normal 40 hour a week shift based off my experience.

Completed updated on 6/25/2015 



Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. K quick says

    I would not want to be considered in your category, I earn 39,000 and support my husband, we save money every way we can. Coupons, sales,etc. it’s not easy, but we do it. God willing.
    I couldn’t imagine 100,000. I do not consider our family middle class. The median annual earnings have gone down in the past years, yet the cost of living increases. Unrealistic label.

  2. TBone says

    At 250k here in Houston, I consider my household lower middle class. I can buy a normal car, normal house, and save enough to put my child through college and retire. To be wealthy, in my opinion, is not living paycheck to paycheck or having a job that owns you. If you wake up unemployed one morning and your not sick to your stomach, you’re wealthy.

    • Joe says

      I don’t care if you live in the Plaza Hotel, $250,000 a year is RICH. Not upper middle class, not middle class, and definitely not lower middle class. I understand that there are different costs of living in different cities, but the national mean is $45K. Houston is not more than five times the mean cost of living. Did you read the article? You are in the top 5% of incomes in America! 95% of this country is poorer than you! If $250K is lower middle class, then doctors, lawyers, and engineers who are in the $100K range are poor.

  3. Rick says

    Tbone i like your last sentence. (i still make 200k less than you but still lol) More people need to realize that. I am the one who really does care. The wealthy do not realize how much they our hurting this nation and world. But if you wake up unemployed you still need to do what you need to do to contribute to society. There are to many people out there that dont care about society or other people. We need to put that care back in thier hearts. There are so many hard working americans struggling so hard to get by anymore it hurts to see. We need to show the wealthy what it is to have a good heart and show them how much they are hurting good hard working men and women. Why is everything so unbalanced? To me there should be no classes. We are all one in the same right? Why should it matter how smart you are or what your capabilities are as long as you are putting foth the effort that should be all that matters.

    • C.R. Visnesky says

      The wealthy have no heart, they HURT people?? are you kidding??..when did a broke person ever hire you? you say everyone should work hard, so you should AIM your anger at the welfare skunks, the 50% who pay NO taxes, yet get many benefits thanks to rich people who pay taxes so the gov. can turn around and provide food and shelter to the people who do not contribute at all…I’m not talking disabled, ill, mental, and broke moms whose baby daddy ran off…I live in a town where all there are are welfare takers, and gov. service jobs to help them get benefits. When a1 19 yr old turns a temporary injury into a lifetime of dole, free food, takes $1000 ambulance ride, free- to get to hospital 3 miles away–for free care on MediCal– and at 50 is dealing pot for more” income”, with the gov. paying $600 of his $750 apt. rent…. yeah, go yell at of thousands who work the system, and NEVER give back.

      we have gone from a nation of people who wanted to achieve, do something contribute in their life, to hounding and blaming anyone who DID make a success. What you want is Communism… where everyone is lazy cause no one is responsible…try that.

      • Annie says

        C.R. not sure if you work in corporate America but when you have a CEO that makes 1.8 million in salary and gets a 11.8 million as a bonus, but they tell you that you can’t get a 1% salary raise because there is no money you understand what Rick is talking about. Companies create jobs but they are abusing us. Today you need to be available 24 hrs 7 days a week. There is no longer 9 to 5, you need to do the same job that 10 years ago it was done by 10 people. That is my example, yes I make 100k and so my husband and we have a nice living BUT I have not have a raise in 7 years because the company has no money but all the top executives get millions in bonuses and the company is not in good shape. That is reality.

      • Joe says

        You sound so worried about people doing what they can for crumbs. It’s a fact that if you don’t have STEM or sales talent, there isn’t an income out there to work towards. You can always respond with, “boo hoo, quit complaining, quit blaming, etc,” but when I send you my resume you have nothing for me. And when I send out resumes every day and come up empty, “I’m not working hard enough.” And when I have informational meetings with decision makers, and they like me but can’t give me a job or promotion or raise because of the “economic climate,” I’m making myself a victim. You obviously have no idea how hard it is for regular people to make ends meet. So a tiny fraction of people work the system for crumbs. You are outraged at that, but it’s fine that huge swaths of society are unable to have careers.

      • Kay says

        It’s not a matter of who we should be mad at, the rich who won’t willingly give all of their money to the poor, or the poor who need government assistance to survive. Unfortunately we do live in a world where there are a lot of people who are happy to sit at home and collect. They will cheat the system and survive without ever doing more than filling out the paperwork for their food stamps. But you almost can’t even blame them. Why work a 40 hour week at minimum wage when you can make almost as much on your couch watching The Maury Povich Show? The fact of the matter is that there is a huge gap between incomes and we have large companies, where the workers are making $8 a hour while those higher up are making $500k a year, to thank for that. This country used to be made up of small, local businesses. If the business made a lot of money, so did the employees. I’m not saying that the cashier made as much as the owner, but you could be a cashier and still make enough to get by. So you’d like it if those “welfare skunks” could just pay for their own food, housing, insurance, ect? I bet they’d like that too. They know how much America says they’re worth. They know a 40 hour week isn’t going to improve their situation by much, so why put in the effort? The simplest way to fix this economy is to raise minimum wage to at least $15hr, more would be better. Some make the argument that flipping burgers isn’t rocket science and it shouldn’t pay much, but the truth is that the world needs cashiers, shelf-stockers, janitors and laborers. These jobs are necessary to keep everything running and to help us live our lives but nobody wants to pay the people doing them enough to have any life of their own. Which leads to the feeling of “why bother”. I say raise minimum wage and watch the amount of people on welfare drop!

        • tia says

          Kay, Seattle has already implemented a $15/hour minimum wage and the results are quite the opposite of what you project! If anything MORE people will be on welfare as a result. So far the increase in minimum wage in Seattle has caused quite a few companies to go out business. For the businesses still standing, many have dropped employees’ 401k plans, health insurance and vacation days to combat the price increase. So only do many people loose their jobs altogether, but others loose some of the mot valuable benefits of being employed. I would say those individuals are pretty worse off with the minimum wage increase, wouldn’t you? It just goes to show that people with no real knowledge of how economies and markets work should not be making such decisions.

      • tim says

        “The wealthy have no heart, they HURT people?? are you kidding??”
        … There are plenty that are exploitative in nature.

  4. Matt beatt says

    I would say that 100 to 250k a year would be middle class, but what about people with 3 kids working 2 to 3 jobs and making only 40k a year. they are still considered middle class and have a slim chance to none of getting any government help yet they cant afford their house payments, utilities, food or even clothes for their children. i think its ridiculous that they can consider someone like that middle class when you look at the difference in living compared to someone who makes over 75k a year.

    • Courtney says

      Spot on! I make 44k a year working two jobs and I have a shit ton to pay in student loans also I have two children (and I’m SINGLE). I don’t receive any assistance, no food stamps, medicaid, no childcare nothing. I don’t even qualify for earned income credit because the cut off is approx 43k. Sometimes I think why not just quit one of my jobs and get assistance. At least then I’d get to be home with my kids.

      • RadIdea says

        Why do people have children when they can’t afford them? Woman do it to themselves thinking they will not be in the 50% of divorces and “believe” a man will be there…ladies get smart – and skip the kids – life is so much fuller and less stressful without them! When are we going to start looking at children as an expense that not all of us can afford? Poor children – they are the ones that suffer due to our egos.

          • Vince says

            This comment you found rude isn’t that off based, but its not just the women’s fault. Both participated in intercourse should think about the future and possibility of kids and weather or not they would be able to support them.

        • Ms.Thing says

          Firstly, I agree that if one is struggling that much then the kids should hold off a bit. I am just turning 29 and have no children and have been married for awhile. Secondly, if everyone stopped having kids, what do you think our population would be like? Would you have been born? No procreation at all?? How can you say life will be more “fulfilled” for everyone!? They’re are plenty “lowers class” poor people who have had children who have went on to become greatly successful, and lots are even rich celebrities who came from poor homes (Oprah being one).. So when you say things like that, think about it first!

          Lastly, I feel a slight bit of bitterness coming from you dealing with men, marriage, etc. I know a few married couples (my parents and my hubby’s parents included) who have been successfully married for decades. Look to those couples, and use the 50% divorce rate to look at in an optimistic way. Do your research and DON’T conduct your marriage like that 50%. ;-)

          • Moemoney says

            Please people don’t have kids if you can’t afford to give them a better financial upbringing than you had. The hard truth is material things cost more today than when we were kids. Stop living in this fantasy world of (material things don’t matter).Try telling that to a teenage child getting picked on and teased in school for not having nice clothes and decent sneakers. This happens everyday in the real world and it could have an extremely negative affect on a childs ability to get a decent education. I’m not trying to be rude but the facts are the facts.

  5. Joe Schmo says

    There are only three classes: The underclass – those who are long term unemployed or unable / do not want to work and who survive on charity or crime. The working class – those who, irrespective of income size are only a pay check away from humility ( in other words if they lost their jobs for any length of time would lose their homes) and the ruling class – those who own and control the means of production and who mostly live off the backs of that huge group of working people and their blood, sweat, tears and taxes. Middle class = Working Class.

    • peoplearestupid says

      Everyone complains about the higher class because they’re making money. You go start a business, put everything you own into it, be held liable for EVERYTHING that business does, and be motivated/smart enough to turn it into a powerhouse. You’re just another person complaining about what others have and say they are “living off the backs of that huge group of working people and their blood, sweat, tears and taxes.” -Envy and a lack of motivation. Those people are not slaves! They accepted a job for an agreed upon salary/ hourly rate. Nothing is forcing them to stay! They have NO liability if something goes wrong. Do you know how many companies fail in the first year? 50%! Meaning that 50% are either filing for bankruptcy or are in huge debt. That risk is why they get paid more. If you are working at a company and it goes under you still receive unemployment till your next job and a glowing recommendation, so yes, you are paid what you deserve if you disagree go find someone who will pay you more or get off your lazy bum and start something.

      • Annie says

        What you said is true to an extend. The problem is that in the past years the owners of the companies are crushing the employees, that didn’t happen before. My father for example has a factory and pays twice salaries as other companies, however the other “owners” are upset with him because he is making people in their companies ask for more money. But the salary that my dad gives is what it is fair, he doesn’t need to be insane rich and he cares for his employees, if they are happy they are loyal and they work harder. That is what is missing now, people like my dad. Everybody wants to pay the minimum and get the most of them. I work in corporate America in software and we do get higher salaries that everybody else, however what I hear from my managers every meeting is “Do more with Less”, Do more work, produce more with less people and less resources. Then they tell you “you are lucky to have a job”. Some people actually believe that and do not complain when they have get raises in 6 or 7 years and then they get a 1%. On top of that we now have to be available 24/7. Have you ask yourself why there are less jobs now? because we are forced to work longer hours hence no need to hire another person to share the work, and it is our fault because due to the fear to lose our jobs, we have accepted that.

    • brad says

      and it also depends on your out come. income and out come. my advise is this find the cheapest but livable house out their and by it threw a mortgage payment. most individual worker’s earn 600 bucks a week after taxes that is 2400 each month. 25% of college graduates earn less than 30k per year. and they still have student debt. hire individual contractors to fix house hold repairs. you do not need a big house in a fancy neighborhood. i live in Cincinnati Ohio. i earn 34200 each year. about 2850 each month i do fine. i live in a house i am only renting. yes you can rent a house also. plenty of decent houses in lower meddle class areas. use the internet to help find a house or an apartment for rent. plenty of decent homes out their for a decent price. the more you pay does not always mean better. banks do lie. America has a lot of false information in the schools, churches, news. also home buyers need to under stand finances better. buy a crappy house you can fix it up over your life time. many people make it harder on their self’s for not looking into things.

    • Aaron says

      I like your thought. I have said the same thing so many times. It just makes me feel relatively decent to have someone else make a similar statement.

  6. Dan says

    I follow the Marxist definition. If you depend on your labor to maintain your household and would lose everything if you lost your job you are working class, ie: proletariat. If you get enough steady income to live a comfortable life from a business, such as rental property, personally owned small manufacturing business or retail store, or even a portfolio of stable reliable investment securities then you are lower middle class, ie: petty bourgeoisie. Owning a factory that employs hundreds of workers, or a major service company makes you mid-middle class, ie: mid bourgeoise. The filthy rich billionaires who influence politics are the top of the bourgeoisie pile, the haute bourgeoise. Most Americans who claim to be middle class are really working class wage slaves.

  7. FreshOutOfCollege says

    I think it may have something to do with age as well. I am a single 22 year old female who just graduated college. I consider myself middle class because I got a job out of college, pay for my own apartment, pay all of my utilities and bills which also include student loans. I can’t afford to buy a house yet because I don’t have enough of a down payment saved but having only been working for 7 months in the state of Massachusetts, I think my $50,000 salary isn’t terrible for someone in my position. So while I can’t afford a house, and my savings account isn’t too big right now, I still would say at this point in my life, I am doing pretty well financially.

    • says

      I agree with you completely. Only 35% of Americans hold college degrees, so you actually might have “upper class potential” and are at least middle class for now. What you do from here on out is up to you and destiny. Good luck!

  8. Sharoom Aya says

    I totally agree with you on the “upper-lower class”. I am a freelance journalist and my husband is a legal office secretary. We pull in a combined $52,000/year but have 2 kids and live in the Chicago suburbs. My friends say we are upper-lower class bordering on lower-middle class, but we don’t live below the poverty line, so we’re lower class but not poor.

    • Shayna says

      I don’t know much about all of this, but I find it odd that if I fall into the lower class then I should be able to receive some kind of help or assistance when the father of my kids loses his job and I’m only working under 15 hours per week. It just doesn’t make sense to me at all. Why do the crack heads living on the street who make $0 get everything, but I who make only $500 a month, my boyfriend who just lost his job, with two kids and one on the way trying to keep our home, does not!

      • trax says

        well.. if you are only making 500/month then you most certainly qualify for food stamps and medical assistance at least.

      • Adrian says

        Crack heads on the street? The language baffles me. Me and my spouse both have degrees and have spent some time in the service, he is still active and we are OK. But when I lost my job for a few months we still did not qualify for any assistance not even child care discounts. It is frustrating yes. But to direct your frustration using language laced with racial bias is intellectually lazy at best.

        • lol says

          Racial bias?

          You’re one to talk. I don’t see where that person threw a black or white label on anybody.

          Stereotyping poor as crack heads? OP is perhaps guilty of that.

          Setting up false arguments and being a sociopath? That one is all on you Adrian.

  9. micklaslavic says

    Yearly income is fleeting. Wealth is not determined by what you earn. It certainly helps to have a steady income to build wealth. Wealth is determined but what you save. My neighbor has two german cars and spends alot of time and money enjoying life today. I have two Chevys and would rather not go in debt or have my neighbors pay for my kids college. I save in other words. My 30 to 40 aged neighors live for today It appears, and vote for those that indirectly and directly at times promise the patriotic spenders they’ll be rewarded with the assets of savers as long as they support the correct politicians. They have had all the opportunity that all Americans truly have regardless of what leftists blather but choices are only something a saver need worry about. After all like the bank robbers those that have the character flaw that demands living for the day know to get money take it from the prudent savers. So vote correctly and sleep well knowing someone else actually sacrificed to aquire a nest egg….for there own family not some democrats pet constituency…..I wonder how many pro marxist have lost any family or friends to to those delightful animals they are so proud of.

  10. jon says

    Mick just because someone buys German cars and lives high on the hog doesn’t mean they are over financed. I drive a nice BMW, rock a Rolex, have a decent paying job in engineering and have no debt. I save for everything and buy it outright. I worked hard to get a full ride in college and never took a penny from my parents so I am in fact self made. When I graduated high school I had managed to have saved over 50k. Just busting my ass off being a cheap ass and investing the money. But I finally came to realize what’s the point of having money and working hard to not enjoy it? So I started buying expensive toys eat out 15+ times a week but it doesn’t hurt me. I live mostly off investment income and that was all self made. So at at 21 (in grad school) live quite well. It was because of my decisions though and I still live within means. I save 70% of my paychecks and everything. So sure I could get a chevy and save a few bucks and have even more money but what’s the point? I’m already on track to be a millionaire before 30 so why not enjoy life too? Tips for people – live withinsyour Means and attend anaffordableyuniversity. Also choose a degree that pays if you want that. I chose engineering (it pays a lot, and choose something that will open doors and that you will love). Money is important but not everything!

    • Mike says

      I know that Sam has expressed some distaste towards the ‘YOLO’ mentality that has been cropping up of late, but I think you make a fair point about the need to enjoy what you have as long as it’s not excessive. I spent my 20s just saving money (with a few indulgences here and there), and I could have continued that trend indefinitely (I like nice things, but am quite indifferent to the prospect of downgrading). But eventually, wealth just becomes a number on a piece of paper, and there’s no point in saving for a rainy day that may never arrive. I’ll buy a nice car or a nice watch, and don’t feel the need to lie about them if people ask. I earned them because I worked hard for them.

    • Jose says

      Props my man. I just turned 21 & i am very jealous of your lifestyle.
      I am currently working on my degree in Finance/ Financial Services
      do you have any additional tips?

  11. Sasha Steele says

    I have lived in NYC, the Hamptons, college in the midwest, CT Greenwich, Northern NJ, the shore, outside of Atlanta, Northern Florida, Ponte Vedra.
    Everything is relative. Whats rich to one is not rich to another- If your in debt up to your eyeballs with all the stuff, the bling, the clothes the things, vacations and kids, sports and activities then
    what is it all about? Your a broke middle class worker Beeee trying to keep up with the Joneses

    I have seen the millions a few billions being in NYC. I have see the upper class, the middle class the lower class. Education is key. Debt free is key. and teaching your children finance early in life.
    With kids that have $500.00 phones from poor to rich. phone bills that are as much as a paycheck at 10.00 an hour. The world has their priorities mixed up.

    Rich- is your health, Rich is taking care of needs not wants. Rich is a healthy loving mind. Rich is free of major debt. Rich is the things you cannot buy. Education is key. Hard work is key.
    and being frugal helps.

    Kids are expensive . No doubt about it. It all depends where you live. Taxes are key.
    Wait till everyone sees what there taxes are this year with our friend Obama. Even those making less than 18,000 a year will pay taxes. For all those people dumb enough to sign up for obama care well……. Now he has all your info connected with health care and taxes.
    You think its going to be free? think again. No doctors long waits and a death wish.

    We are a family of 5 our health insurance with no issues no drugs, no medications. Is 1250 a month with 6350 and 12000 deductible. Insane.

    Get ready America. If your not healthy, young or rich you will probably die a whole lot sooner as prices move up come November 15.

    Work for your health.

    Thats where the middle class is headed. Paying for the poor.

    Good luck to all of us as the rich pay 40% in taxes.


  12. Emma says

    As a 33 year old single woman in the Boston suburbs I make 70K and consider myself middle class. Yes, I invest in my 401K, have a nice place to live (rent, cannot afford to own in this market) and decent car but I am, and always will be, a few paychecks away from being homeless unless I were to cash out my 401K. I shop at Market Basket, look for sales and try to live BELOW my means…that is key.

  13. says

    Haha… well in sociology there’s two theories about the existence of poverty and other classes.
    the functionlist theory
    Some jobs require more work, education or have more importance therefore should have greater rewards.
    and the conflict theory.
    Basically the bigger cooperations get rich off the little people and control them. Ect ect Karl Marx stuff..

    However.. I doubt anyone posting on this is in the upper upper class such as people with “old money” and many Generations of wealth like the Rockafellers ect.
    Idk I’m in college still only took an into to sociology… and learned about this… I just took an exam over it 2 weeks ago… I just remembered and it’s almost christmas and I do not want to end up writing another essay about social stratifcaton . Lol merry xmas.

  14. Don says

    It makes no sense to define classes by how much money one brings in each year. There are geographical differences and life cycle differences that determine your lot in life. The “classical” definitions are roughly:

    Upper Class = You have enough in assets to live very well without working, but are expected to do good charitable works and support broad communities of people due to building productive enterprises. You are either well insured or have enough assets so that you and your family have no worries of defenestration.

    Middle Class = You own property. Period. You own a house or a business and have enough assets and insurance to be relatively comfortable during your & your families lifetime. You may or may not have to work, but have a good trade or profession that will ensure employment if required.

    Lower Class = You don’t own anything. You have no savings. You don’t have any great skills or knowledge and your existence depends on you working 50 weeks year in, year out. You live under constant fear of your job being obsoleted or becoming unable to work or dying and leaving your family with nothing. THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT THE GOV’T COULD GIVE YOU TO RAISE YOU OUT OF THE LOWER CLASS. YOU HAVE TO IMPROVE YOURSELF, BUY PROPERTY, SAVE MONEY, AND WORK HARDER. Sorry, but that’s the short answer to all of the gov’t idiots who think they can redistribute the wealth of hard working folks to non-productive folks.

    These classes are not rigidly defined but, rather, define what your life is like without resorting to an income chart that says nothing about where you’ve been and where you’re going. These classes are a continuum and people pass through classes during their lifetime (unless you’re very unlucky). But, feel free to disagree with this and use a dollar amount if you need to.

    • Joe says

      I think your class definitions are right. I wonder if you meant to say that lower class people don’t work hard, as in “hard working” middle class people and “non-productive” lower class people.

  15. trev says

    I’m 23 years old, i make around 25-30k a year after taxes working at a restaurant i know it’s not ideal forever but it is while i’m going to college i live in between reading and Philadelphia. I thought i made decent money compared to everyone else. It seems like no one around here makes more than 40-50k a year… i don’t get it.

    • says

      I made $40,000 base at 23 year old living in Manhattan, which means that was like making $25,000 a year! But through kicking my own ass and getting in at 5:25am and staying until after 7pm every day for two years, I got a promotion and a raise at a new firm, and away I went.

      Just got to do more with the amount of hours given. If normal people are waking up at 7am, wake up at 5am and work two hours on something. Two hours a week day ads up to an extra 400+ hours of achievement and expertise over a year. Surely that is valuable!

      How To Make Six Figures At Almost Any Age

  16. yesenia says

    At over 2 years past the first comment is this comment:

    My financial position: 28 year old accounting college grad, single parent making $53,000 in Los Angeles. Well my financial position is not ideal and is not mediocre, but like the ambitious person I am, I want more.

    With college debt, day care, and rent it seems impossible to get by-yet with some stroke of good luck I survive month after month. This year I am studying for the CPA and if all goes well, becoming a CPA. I have visited the idea of going back to school to get a masters, but adding more debt sounds like a huge downside.

    At several points in my life I was saving, contributing to a retirement, and not this stressed out about money…but now that I am a single parent money (lack there of) is my biggest source of stress. What advice would you give to someone in my position, so that I may not be so stressed about money? When does it get easier?

    • says

      First of all, there’s no better multi-tasker than the single parent. Props to you for making ends meet and holding it together.

      I’m not sure when things will get easier until you find another partner to help you. I wouldn’t take on debt to get a masters. Do it on the side, if possible. I really think the answer is to try and spend time finding that teammate in life, rich or poor.

  17. Al Domenech Sr says

    I demand that the term “Middle Class” be eliminated no matter what category it is related to.
    I am a “First-Class ” citizen who makes middle income and there is no “class” in putting me
    in the former. I don’t know who determined that we were “middle-class” this or “middle-class” that but either you are low-income, middle-income or high income. Of course the media, the “upper-class” see things their way and my way will find itself in some dark dungeon.

  18. Johnny says

    I think that most of us in America have the opportunity to become wealthy “if” we start making good choices at a young age. I believe there is also a little luck involved as well. I am 43 years old and my wife and I combined make around $150k. Both my wife and I made some choices along the way which we will never really be able to recover from financially. Although we are making it and if things go right, we will be safely able to retire in our early 60s, we could have done better had we done things differently. A series of bad choices in life can make the difference between being wealthy and struggling for the rest of your life. I try very hard as a parent to make sure my kids understand this concept. I think I have given them the tools and the foundation to be successful and wealthy adults, but it all depends on their choices after they leave the house.

  19. Roger says


  20. Justin says

    My wife and I will clear $125k combined this year. We will be buying a home soon. We both have graduate degrees, have our own car. Our goal is to turn our side project into a full time business and generate more income that way. My wife works for a major university so we get an 80% tuition remission for our children. I think the main difference between the classes is access to opportunities. A person in the lower classes has a harder time digging themselves out as their time is spent on survival. A perdon in the upper class with a warchest of $500,000 in reserve cash can do whatever they want. Money buys choices and the more time you have to spend just surviving, the less choice you have.

  21. Joel says

    The problems with middle class incomes I feel started with the signing of NAFTA on December 8th, 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The result was the migration of millions of middle class jobs leaving the country that were in the production and manufacturing sectors which made the USA an industrial and financial Goliath. Ross Perot stated during its formation that if it was passed Americans would hear a “giant sucking sound” of American companies fleeing the United States for Mexico, where employees would work for less pay and without benefits.

    In addition we have 10’s of millions of illegal immigrants that have called the United States home over the last 30 to 40 years, the majority of which have low education, minimal skills sets and often limited language skills competing with Americans with higher educations (GED/high school or greater) for lower income job. They are willing to work for lower wages without benefits and tax our social services especially when it comes to healthcare.

    I would also be negligent if I did not mention the effects left by the Great Recession, or as I call it “The 2nd Great Depression” we’ve been living in since 2007 and is still taking its toll on the middle class today. This resulted in another devastating roll back for the middle class due to the lack of oversight by our Federal government, rollback of rules and regulations of big business and the financial industries which has had a devastating impact and will for decades to come.

  22. LMC says

    I’m in my mid-40s and work in Silicon Valley at a large tech company. I make $250K a year. My wife makes about $10K/year out of the house. We have a small child. We live in a below market rate rental house. It just worked out that way because I have a great relationship with the landlord. Rent is $2100/month (should be $3500+) for a 1100sf 2Bed/2Ba. We’re on a busy street in a 3rd tier town with terrible schools (95% of kids at the schools get reduced lunch prices).

    Housing costs in a decent 2nd tier town (forget 1st tier) would be so astronomical they would basically bankrupt the rest of our lives which are more or less comfortable now. We don’t live extravagantly, but we don’t worry about monthly bills and take a couple of family vacations every year and I’m able to max out my 401k.

    A decent house in a 2nd tier town would be around 1100sf, need a good amount of work and cost around $1.4M minimum. I could theoretically swing it, but then we’d be strapped in all other areas of life including education.
    Schools in CA are really bad. I’m from the east coast and a general rule is the best schools in CA are still worse than the worst schools back east due to a number of factors like tenure, terrible tax base (ie, no money)

    By continuing to rent in our little Silicon Valley ghetto, we can at least afford to send our kid to private school for roughly $20K/year. A drop in the bucket compared to trying to afford a house in a decent school district here.

    CA is a strange place. Almost like a banana republic. There are the well off folks here making $700K+/yr that live like middle class anywhere else in the country. If you make less than that, then you live in old dilapidated (1950s) one floor stucco shacks that noone is ever incentivized to fix since housing prices go up here double digits year after year (with the rare tiny downturn). At least at my salary I can afford a house for my family to rent. Most people in our neighborhood are living with multiple families in the same size apartments/houses.

    Prop13 ensures that the folks that got here a long time ago stay put and pass their houses generation to generation paying $1000/yr in property tax on a paid off house that are now worth $1.5M+. There’s hardly any housing stock here which, with the larger (not mine) salaries in the area accounts for those few homes being snatched up at crazy land prices.

    So how do I feel living here? I feel like I live in a pretty poor/poverty-stricken area (95% reduced lunches is a good indicator), but I feel like I’m somewhere between lower-middle and middle-middle class for the area. I’m hoping I can scrape together enough additional savings somehow to keep up with the pace of appreciation on houses here to save up enough to maybe buy a little starter home here some day, but it feels almost out of reach.

    I feel like I could move to somewhere else like Boston or New Jersey/Fairfield county CT (Where the bankers of NYC tend to live) or even parts of LA or Chicago and be clearly in the upper-middle class. Then there are other places in Florida and Texas I could practically buy a house for cash and live like a ‘rich’ person on this same salary.

    So the definition of “Middle Class” is, IT DEPENDS on where you live.

    • says

      True. Ever thought of moving?

      As a small business owner, I’ve decided to make $250,000 a year gross, just like you. But for some reason, I’ve had no problems buying property over the past 14 years (bought 4). But, I’m also a super saver.

      Just bought a fixer in Golden Gate Heights in 2014 for about $1.25 million, and spent $120,000 so far fixing it up. I love it, and it’s not that big around 1,900 sqft. But, it’s cheaper than what you are describing. Maybe pursue a fixer and put some elbow grease into it?


      • LMC says

        SF would be a bit of a haul for me to commute every day. I’d prefer to stay on the peninsula. I’ve looked everywhere(?) down here but haven’t found a spot like GGH. Great schools there but not much available in that or surrounding neighborhoods. Thanks for the tips!


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