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Old 02-15-2021, 08:14 PM   #41
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I am recently divorced and my income will be 31k. I live in a MCOL. No state income taxes and low property taxes. I am taking a small mortgage on a condo and my car is paid for. I won’t have any difficulty living on this amount. My travel will come from my investments and savings. I have lived in Wichita Kansas which was very cheap especially housing. Here it’s expensive but luckily own property otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay.
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:37 PM   #42
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I'm a millionaire who is retired so I choose my spending or income to be whatever I want it to be. I chose it(spending) to be $13,200 including taxes last year. I have everything I need or want.
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Old 02-16-2021, 05:52 AM   #43
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... Now the question is, what is middle class?...
My definition:
Middle Class is when you have to pay attention to what you're spending on 'wants' so as not to overspend. Middle class is when you look at the prices on a menu and order accordingly.
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Old 02-16-2021, 10:55 PM   #44
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Define normal lifestyle. Live in subsidize apartment in ..let's say not good neighborhood , food from grocery outlet, no travel.
Live in house in good area (even paid off but property tax and insurance around $700/month), travel 2-3 times per year?
Both can be attributed to middle class but it will be different amount to spend.
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Old 02-19-2021, 04:33 PM   #45
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My definition:
Middle Class is when you have to pay attention to what you're spending on 'wants' so as not to overspend. Middle class is when you look at the prices on a menu and order accordingly.
+1 makes good sense to me.
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Old 02-19-2021, 05:01 PM   #46
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In contrast to the how low can you go thread, I've started this thread. Poverty level in the US is $17,420 for a household of two. I don't see that as something to shoot for.
Now the question is, what is middle class? I'm going to suggest $40k to $90k as my criteria. That pretty well covers the median household income of $68K. Then do you own your house? I say yes, if not, you might need a little more. The next biggy is location, I realize that will be a big factor.


We are living on $55k.
I have two homes, Ohio and Tennessee. No mortgages or other debts. One teenage grandchild lives with us. I have to buy insurance on ACA market place. Wife has lymphoma. We get by comfortably on 7k per month, with an ever reducing emergency/discretionary fund that started around 75k now at 58k after two years. Needs to last three more years.
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Old 02-19-2021, 05:12 PM   #47
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As people have said, there are too many variables especially when it comes to home costs. There are two categories of spending:

1. Fixed costs: housing, utilities, food, transportation, medical, maintenance
2. Discretionary spending: vacations, toys, entertainment, etc.

But there's also a grey area in those categories. Transportation can be a bus pass, a paid off 20-year old car, or a new car every 3 years. Food for 2 can be $400 cook at home or $1000 cook at home every month. Etc.
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Old 02-19-2021, 05:29 PM   #48
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As nearly everyone has said, it depends a lot on location. But, there are other things as well. Is the house paid off? How about state and local taxes...high or low? Do you live relatively middle class, but are asset rich such that you need a large umbrella policy to cover you in case of litigation? We feel that we live probably on the high end of middle class, but because a good chunk of our income is from a deferred income plan from which I cannot control the disbursements, we pay massive federal income tax, along with sizable state income tax. Once it is paid out, then we wonít have that to worry about anymore. But the bottom line is that we spent way more on taxes last year than we did on household expenses and travel.
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Old 02-19-2021, 05:55 PM   #49
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You really need to define "normal middle class lifestyle". That can mean very different things to different people. Also, where in the country can make a huge difference.
Yep, will vary greatly by person, location, etc. For me middle class it would be in $75k to $90k range pre-tax.
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Old 02-19-2021, 07:15 PM   #50
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Where can we find the average income for individuals and not household.

Household can mean multiple people.
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:37 PM   #51
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Where can we find the average income for individuals and not household.

Household can mean multiple people.
Median is more useful than average. A small number of very high earners brings up the average a lot.

https://dqydj.com/average-median-top...e-percentiles/

Median individual income: $43,206.00
Average individual income: $62,518.13
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Old 02-19-2021, 09:48 PM   #52
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Median is more useful than average. A small number of very high earners brings up the average a lot.

https://dqydj.com/average-median-top...e-percentiles/

Median individual income: $43,206.00
Average individual income: $62,518.13
Isn’t Median same as average?
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Old 02-19-2021, 11:42 PM   #53
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Isnít Median same as average?
No. To find average, you take all the incomes, add them up, and divide by the number of households.

To find the median, you find the income that has the same number of households above this number and below it.

Said another way: If Elon Musk walked into a bar, the average net worth would skyrocket. But the median net worth would either change by 1, or not change at all.
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Old 02-20-2021, 04:47 AM   #54
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Interesting thread.

Toss the more extreme cases to the side (living in downtown SFO or retired, single and living in rural MS).

When I think of middle class, I think of a family of four living in Pittsburgh. Or my wife and I many years of living in the suburb of Denver/Philadelphia.

My definition of "a middle class lifestyle":

- Living in a safe area, with decent schools
- Not worrying about the bills but well aware of the price of chicken breasts vs. thighs
- A vacation that involves leaving at 4a to avoid an extra night in a hotel
- Kids wear Bear Paws, not Uggs
- Smartphones are treasures b/c you're not getting a new one
- You only know where the food bank is if you donate.
- You've traded a longish commute to live in a suburb that gets you the above

(For transparency, I had higher than a middle class income but that was more-or-less our lifestyle for a long time so I have a sense of the costs.)

I think that's doable at around $70k pre-tax. Lower than that and you're dipping into consumer credit to maintain the lifestyle...so welcome to the treadmill from hell.

I think when we talk about the middle class squeeze, two things are reflected:

1) The people above would also like to save for college, retirement, and to cover emergencies. To do that in a sustained way, now the income needs to be $90k+ and you're WAY outside the median income band.

2) My idyllic "Dad+Mom+2, dual income or one highish earner" scenario belies a lot of real world suffering. "Single parent, scraping by" or "re-married w/ child support+attorney fees" scenarios. It also forgoes damage from major medical issues, supporting Mom and Dad, or attempting to recover from the after effects of a sustained job loss.

Between the effects of 1 & 2...I think there is a lot of sorrow and people feeling like they can never win. In scenario 1, they're working like heck but can't see the savings account grow and always feel like they're on the edge. In scenario 2, there are a lot of hidden costs beneath the surface that don't make it into one's view of a "middle class lifestyle."

I grew up lower middle class...so I'm well aware of the choices available to close the gap and create savings capacity even within my $70k scenario (or lower). But now you're not living the middle class lifestyle.

Sorry to hijack the thread...but I think this is actually a very important topic for reasons other than just a personal financial yardstick.

My $0.02.
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Old 02-20-2021, 08:47 AM   #55
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guess that means i'm low class...... Only made 5k last year.
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Old 02-20-2021, 08:48 AM   #56
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I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in a family where my dad worked a median level white collar job. Once the kids no longer needed (or wanted) supervision, my mom started working in a low wage job. My parents built the house with the help of my grandfather, so there was no mortgage. We were probably solid middle class. We never had new cars and the kid's clothes were mostly hand-me-downs. The house was well maintained and served it's purpose but it was never really updated unless you call throwing down a few boxes of linoleum over the old tile an upgrade. My dad put plastic over the windows in the winter to save on heating fuel. Our needs were met, and once in a while we were able to enjoy a few toys like a computer (when floppy drives were a thing), but that's about it. My parents were decent savers, but never good investors. They're still doing OK, but they're not wealthy.

These days, the middle class would enjoy a lot more gadgets and gizmos and probably has more debt, so I would think the material lifestyle is "better" if one would call having more "things" better, but I kind of miss the old way of life in the 70s and 80s, where neighbors actually talked and gathered, and community was a thing. Imagination played a huge part in growing up and finding interesting things to do.

Financially, we're much better off than when we were growing up, but it's obvious that despite your lifestyle and social class, money can't easily buy happiness. The value of time and quality use of that time in the years remaining has nudged past the value of a dollar in our priority list. Life truly is short...and getting shorter.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:07 AM   #57
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$30K/yr in a mid-sized town in the midwest - single with no kids, would give you a middle class lifestyle once the house is paid off, but you wouldn't be able to save much. It's not about what clothes your kids are wearing or the schools. Some of us don't even have kids. lol
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:28 AM   #58
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Median is more useful than average. A small number of very high earners brings up the average a lot.

https://dqydj.com/average-median-top...e-percentiles/

Median individual income: $43,206.00
Average individual income: $62,518.13
Median income is a little misleading. It's not just full time employees, it includes anybody who works part time too.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:31 AM   #59
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I'm a millionaire who is retired so I choose my spending or income to be whatever I want it to be. I chose it(spending) to be $13,200 including taxes last year. I have everything I need or want.

Is it just you? I like to think I'm fairly frugal but with health car $500+, groceries $400 and taxes and insurance (home) $200 that's $13200 (for a family of 4).
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:49 AM   #60
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Median income is a little misleading. It's not just full time employees, it includes anybody who works part time too.


So are you saying the ďaverage incomeĒ in that link only counts full time workers?

Thanks
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