The majority of us are middle class, defined as neither rich nor poor. Seriously, that’s the official definition of middle class, because depending on who you talk to and where they live, you’ll get different answers. A $50,000 household income for a family of four is absolutely middle class in Des Moines, Iowa but is closer to poverty in New York City.
Statisticians say middle class is a household income between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. Anything above $100,000 is deemed “upper middle class”. It’s funny how there’s no usage of the categories “lower class” and “upper class” isn’t it?
It’s as if someone didn’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. In cities such as San Francisco and New York, middle class income might very well extend all the way up to $300,000 given the median house price in San Francisco is over $1,600,000 in 2021. Further, it regularly costs $1,000+/sqft in New York City to buy.
Whether you make $30,000 a year or $250,000 a year, I venture to guess the majority will consider ourselves middle class. There’s an important psychology involved, and that is when it comes to financials, nobody wants to stray too far from the core.
If you consider yourself rich, you will be hunted down. And if you start considering yourself poor, others will ridicule you for being dumb or lazy.
Classifying yourself as middle class keeps you safe and warm!
As a kid, there were only two things I ever wanted: 1) a Nintendo console and 2) a camera. I never got either because my parents wouldn’t allow me to waste my time on video games, and a camera was a grown up toy. It’s a shame, because it would have been great to capture my childhood and reminisce. Ah, the inability of the middle class to have everything they want unless they work for it!
My family was by no means poor, they just weren’t rich. In fact, we had everything we needed – food, clothing, love, and shelter. We lead very simple lives, buying second hand clothes, living in a suburbian townhouse, and driving beater cars.
I still remember the paintless, 15 year-old Nissan Datsan my father drove. I’d duck in horror whenever he’d drop me off at school. I even snuck the metal beast out in a torrential downpour and two hubcaps flew off while I was doing burnouts. My parent didn’t even know, the car was that pitiful!
Most wealthy people didn’t grow up with a Butler named Belvedere. Instead, they grew up middle class just like many of us. I’m always so disappointed when President Obama pits the rich against the poor since the chances are very high that we’ve all been in the same middle class once before.
The top 1% might even have more perspective than the majority of us. They know what it’s like to not have much, and now know what it’s like to afford almost anything. We should draw on their experiences. After all, “the rich” are also the ones who donate the most to charity, provide jobs, and provide investment capital for our start-up ideas.
Growing up middle class lets me appreciate all the things I have today. I can’t imagine growing up rich because I would probably always feel inadequate compared to my parents. Imagine living in a 8,000 square foot mansion your entire life, only to be able to afford a 800 square foot fixer several years after college?
Wouldn’t it be nice to roll around around in a S500 Benzo with a driver, but only afford a Toyota Yaris upon graduation. How about eating toro sashimi and prime rib every weekend with the folks, and all you can afford now is the occasional Panda Express. Yuck.
The middle class is what makes America hum. We’re either a part of the middle class now, or have been there once before. In other words, we’re all about the same, so let’s treat each other the same. No more bickering between different socio-economic classes. We all have the same rights and freedoms to do whatever we want, forever.
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Updated for 2021 and beyond.