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How much does it take to have a normal middle class lifestyle.
Old 02-15-2021, 09:43 AM   #1
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How much does it take to have a normal middle class lifestyle.

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.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:10 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:21 AM   #3
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I think the average household income is around 60k but that would include a kid or two.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:40 AM   #4
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Pew research "Are you middle class" calculator
https://www.pewresearch.org/search/middle+class
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:53 AM   #5
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First, you have to define Middle Class. Second, a Middle Class Standard of Living is 100% dependent on location. Third, it's also different based on age.

The basics: You meet your essentials and have enough discretionary income for entertainment, recreation, and some savings and investing.
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:55 AM   #6
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Now the question is, what is middle class? I'm going to suggest $40k to $90k as my criteria.
I don't spend anywhere near that much, but I live alone with a paid off house and car plus no debt or dependents.

The range you suggest seems insanely high to me, bat-$hit crazy high. Honestly I am spending as much as I can (since my retirement is over-funded). I don't hang out with billionaires, but I think most people in New Orleans would say my lifestyle is middle class or slightly higher than that.

I would suggest maybe $20K-$40K.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:00 AM   #7
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Well, we're probably at the upper end of the middle class level and live in Northern VA, which is a high cost area. Both retired, no mortgage, and between the two of us I'd say we average around 150K spending per year. That includes all the taxes, though.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:11 AM   #8
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I don't spend anywhere near that much, but I live alone with a paid off house and car plus no debt or dependents.

The range you suggest seems insanely high to me, bat-$hit crazy high. Honestly I am spending as much as I can (since my retirement is over-funded). I don't hang out with billionaires, but I think most people in New Orleans would say my lifestyle is middle class or slightly higher than that.

I would suggest maybe $20K-$40K.
I suspect the $40k to $90k range is closer that you think, but it shows how context matters. That number is more appropriate to working families with children. Both parents work and pay payroll tax, a mortgage, two cars, some child care, and set aside retirement funds. Some of their spending is work related.

Take away the payroll tax, retirement saving, mortgage, child care cost and cost to work, and your number probably also works.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:14 AM   #9
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The range you suggest seems insanely high to me, bat-$hit crazy high.
It really depends on where you live, if you have a mortgage, what your taxes are, how many kids you have, etc.


As noted, median household income is around 68K so 40-90K is hardly that high. Plenty of people around here pay 10K or more in property taxes alone on a modest home. You can't do that on a 40K income. It's even a little tight on 90K.


Add in 2 or 3 kids with all of the associated costs, a mortgage, maybe a car payment or two, a vacation or two each year, healthcare costs, perhaps still dealing with student loans, and there's no way you're getting by on 50K.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:38 AM   #10
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You really need to define "normal middle class lifestyle". ...
Easy. Exactly as much as I spend. If you spend more than me, you're a profligate wastrel. If you spend less, you're a tightfisted skinflint.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:39 AM   #11
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Property taxes
Home Owners Insurance
Gas/Electric/Water/Heat
Cable/Internet
Car Insurance for 2 cars
= Many suburban/urban areas of the country will run you close to $20k for a family of 4, 2 cars, 3/2 home. That's before they make a mortgage payment or buy food, so yeah $40-$70 sounds like a minimum for expenses. At the height of the 2008 gas costs, our commuting costs were $20 a day, $4k per year.

To have a middle class lifestyle, then add one summer vacation, and perhaps a winter one too, to visit family for holidays. A getaway weekend for the parents for some sanity. Billy is taking guitar lessons, Hannah has a math tutor or she struggles. At least one car is being paid off, the other has a few repairs needed. Clothing expenses - for growing kids and for their low/mid management jobs. Take the family to a ball game once or twice a season... it all adds up very quickly to do the basic sort of things many of us had growing up.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:47 AM   #12
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Property taxes
Home Owners Insurance
Gas/Electric/Water/Heat
Cable/Internet
Car Insurance for 2 cars
That totals about $17,200 for us (3 cars, not 2). And it was higher but we cut out cable a couple of months ago.


Oh, there's also the sewer bill so make it $18,200.
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Old 02-15-2021, 11:50 AM   #13
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There's no average middle class income. Single, couple, family? Urban, rural? State, city? Here's for major metro areas, undoubtedly cheaper in other cities, states, rural...

https://www.businessinsider.com/midd...ancisco-2018-2

We're very comfortable with our middle class spending, wouldn't begin to cover expenses in Palo Alto CA among many other places...
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:01 PM   #14
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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.

I thought I did that with $40K to $90k, what you buy with that could go in every direction.
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:03 PM   #15
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Now the question is, what is middle class? I'm going to suggest $40k to $90k as my criteria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by disneysteve View Post
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.
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Originally Posted by Time2 View Post
I thought I did that with $40K to $90k, what you buy with that could go in every direction.
Then haven't you answered your own question? I don't understand what you're really asking.
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:04 PM   #16
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Easy. Exactly as much as I spend. If you spend more than me, you're a profligate wastrel. If you spend less, you're a tightfisted skinflint.

So one way or another, your calling me names!
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:09 PM   #17
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Then haven't you answered your own question? I don't understand what you're really asking.

Well ya, I was right! But others had their input of $18,200 to $150,000. So only right for my context.
But this is still more fun than "How low can you go". It's closer to "blow that dough", got to be more fun.
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:27 PM   #18
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Well ya, I was right! But others had their input of $18,200 to $150,000.
Yeah, not in NJ for sure.


I listed the base expenses above of $18,200. Add in our now paid off mortgage and what we currently pay for health insurance and we'd be at nearly $31,000.


That's before food, gas, clothing, entertainment, travel, car registration and maintenance, home repairs, etc. Add in some money for gifts, charity, and savings and you're well over 50K easily.


We currently spend about 80K (less since COVID hit but that's the pre-COVID norm).
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:32 PM   #19
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I don't spend anywhere near that much, but I live alone with a paid off house and car plus no debt or dependents.

The range you suggest seems insanely high to me, bat-$hit crazy high. Honestly I am spending as much as I can (since my retirement is over-funded). I don't hang out with billionaires, but I think most people in New Orleans would say my lifestyle is middle class or slightly higher than that.

I would suggest maybe $20K-$40K.
We spend $20K just on property taxes and insurance.

Where you live is a huge variable for this discussion. Nobody is going to live middle class in Manhattan, Honolulu or San Francisco on $40K.
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Old 02-15-2021, 12:40 PM   #20
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Property taxes
Home Owners Insurance
Gas/Electric/Water/Heat
Cable/Internet
Car Insurance for 2 cars
= Many suburban/urban areas of the country will run you close to $20k
That totals about $17,200 for us (3 cars, not 2). And it was higher but we cut out cable a couple of months ago.

Oh, there's also the sewer bill so make it $18,200.
$9101 (but 1 car, not 2, and cable is internet only). Includes sewer and flood/hurricane insurance.
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