We hear the term “Middle Class” thrown around a lot, especially by politicians during election years. They use it to try and relate to what’s supposed to be a majority of us Americans, but does the term and its use foster unity and satisfaction or just the opposite? And more importantly, how does this classification make us feel and behave as it relates to money and lifestyle? On this episode of Getting Money Right, we discuss the impact social classes has on how we spend money and the satisfaction we feel about our own life.
Definition: The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy.
In socioeconomic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class. However, this term has evolved over time and is now more indicative of the working class (blue and white collar).
For as much as politicians use the term “middle class,” you’d think it would be more clearly defined.
There is little consensus on what middle class really means, but everyone certainly wants to be middle class:
Nearly 70% of Americans consider themselves middle class, but only about 52% would qualify based on income.
The Pew Research Center found that middle-income families–in a three-person household–earned between $45,200 and $135,600 in 2016.
The Brookings Institute offered a broader range, from $37,000 to $147,000 for a household of three.
Still others argue that the swath of Americans below the top 10% is middle class.
A recent CNBC story, which featured a detailed budget breakdown from a couple jointly earning $500,000 that still felt “average,” to grasp just how muddled the middle-class label is.
Here’s how much you need to make to officially be middle-class:
Household of one: minimum of $26,093
Household of two: minimum of $36,902
Household of three: minimum of $45,195
Household of four: minimum of $52,187
Household of five: minimum of $58,347
According to Pew’s survey, that means in 2016 29% of America were lower-class, 52% were middle-class, and 19% were upper-class.
There are so many ways to break down what “middle class” is.
By job type
By lifestyle & home amenities
20% lower income
60% middle income
20% upper income
Life Style & Home Amenities
No vehicle, no homeownership, no medical coverage, no savings, no vacations
2 vehicles, home ownership, medical coverage, savings, vacations
Luxury vehicles, expensive real-estate, private health, maxed out retirement accounts, travel & entertainment whenever wanted.
You can still have rich friendship, find a community, eat every day, enjoy a safe place to live, and pursue fulfilling work even at very low-income levels in America.
Why does this matter to us today?
There’s usually an agenda behind why news agencies and politicians are using this term. You have to look at who is behind these claims and what their agenda is.
You have to be very careful what you’re absorbing and how it’s affecting your actions and attitude.
The term is often used to bring dissatisfaction, instead of bring satisfaction to your life.
You might be living a great life, but still feeling poor, unhappy, and angry at others.
Discontentment vs Contentment
“I can’t even go out to eat”
“I only have 3 bedrooms in my home”
“My kids have to go to a public school”
Upward mobility in America is very high. (Pew Research Trust)
Family Wealth Half of Americans surpass their parents in terms of family wealth.5
55% of Americans have greater wealth than their parents did at the same age.
72% percent of Americans whose parents were in the bottom fifth of the wealth ladder and 55 percent of those whose parents were in the middle quintile exceed their parents’ family wealth as adults. https://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/reports/economic_mobility/pursuingamericandreampdf.pdf
Build a foundation of financial success
How a budget can help you succeed
Helps you have a clear picture of how much you make and how much you spend.
Spend on what’s valuable to you and not because of social pressures.
Allows you to plan ahead and meet goals, while still enjoying a good life and meeting all your needs.
Helps you avoid lifestyle creep - use income increases and bonuses to increase margin not lifestyle.
As you increase in income, you can’t allow lifestyle creep to grow at the same pace as income growth. Your margin should be growing. Moving from 10% toward savings, then 20%, then continue on till you’re living on 50% of your income.
Live on a little bit less than you make, then save & invest the difference over a long-period of time.
It’s the platform that will help you gain wealth and financial security.
Budgeting and Debt Elimination Tools
Jesus on Money by David Thompson - stewardshippastors.com
Book cover design - vote here: https://www.stewardshippastors.com/jesus-on-money-book-cover