How Can I Determine if I am in the Middle Class?

Three subcategories exist for the Middle class. Lower Middle Class, Middle Class, and Upper Middle Class.

Fortune had an article from January 2022 looking at middle class on a national scale.

Click here: Fortune Article - Here’s who is considered middle-class—and how they fared during the first year of the pandemic

Based on income alone for a family of three. This table is used for general purposes and not meant to categorize people. The subcategories are as follows.

Lower Middle Class

 Middle Class

Upper Middle Class
29,963 - 90,130 90,131-219,571

219,572+

It is important to note that these earnings aren’t necessarily based on a single income for the household. Most families today have two incomes coming into the household.

For instance, if both spouses earned 50,000 each from employment, then they would not be Lower Middle Class. They would be Middle Class, as their income combined would be 100,000

Pew research has a calculator which can be used for each individual state and family size. Categories can change from state to state depending on the cost of living.

It should only be used to give an idea based on income of where you might stand. Experts in this area disagree about the classes and there is no definitive answer.

https://www.pewresearch.org/search/income+calculator

Numerous factors determine class, not just income. One’s education, geographical location (city, state, neighborhood), family financial philosophy and habits, and social circles.

Lower Middle Class

Because classes are too difficult to define and there are too many factors to consider, I am using my own parameters for the purpose of how to prosper based on basic living situations rather than income.

The working poor and working lower middle class usually have government assistance available to them.

General characteristics of lower middle class is that they may have a car for transportation. Chances are these vehicles are old, bought with cash, unreliable and under the asset limit to qualify for government assistance.

Qualifying for a car loan is highly unlikely. The poor are the people taking public transportation.

The lower middle class may have a college degree, the working poor less likely.

The working poor and lower middle class are more often paying fines and penalties for overdue bills or broken headlight that they got pulled over for.

Both the working poor and lower middle class are less likely to have or use a budget. The main reason is the anxiety that it causes.

When I was struggling, I didn’t want to look at my bills or know what was going on because it was too depressing to think about it, making the situation worse.

The working poor and the middle class work hard and long hours in order to meet their living expenses.

The lower middle class or working poor may have been victims of Payday loans.

Personally, I do not like payday loans. I believe they are predatory loans and should be outlawed.

Payday loans pray on those that are poor charging 300% or more for their loans, while those that can qualify for credit cards or other loans can get interest rates far below that.

Save The Middle Class Parade

Multilevel Companies, Corporations, Entrepreneur

The less money someone has the more likely they are to spend it on lottery tickets, Multilevel Marketing Companies (MLM’s), real estate investment classes or other financial Gurus selling a dream.

Let’s start with MLM’s. Selling a dream that you can become multi-millionaires by only recruiting a few people is not reality. Building up someone’s hopes and dreams when only a select few will ever become wealthy from it.

Common MLM pitches may sound like this: “this is your own business, how many businesses can you buy for… (some dollar amount they give you).”

While the cost is affordable in many cases, no successful business owner buys more product than they can use or sell, or they will soon be out of business because the cost will outweigh the profits.

Those that hate the MLM industry say they are ALL pyramid schemes, and that only the people at the top are making money. It is also true that CEO’s and other C executives are making most of the money on the corporate side.

Interestingly enough the same percentage of those that make it in the corporate world is the same percentage of those that make it at MLM’s.

The strongest argument against MLM’s is that at least at the bottom of a company you get a guaranteed income with benefits and a paid vacation.

A weak argument for the MLM haters is that there are expenses with this industry that aren’t found in real businesses or jobs.

These haters are not familiar with the insurance industry where you have to pay for your own training, the test, your license every few years, your appointment fees and your Errors and Omissions insurance.

For most people MLM’s should be avoided.

I have been involved in a MLM since 2001, LegalShield, I not only saw the value for myself, but I also saw the value for my clients and have used the service multiple times. darmstrong.wearelegalshield.com

I am also in the insurance industry. I am licensed in life, health, property, and casualty. It made sense to offer my clients LegalShield.

For a small, monthly premium, it can prevent a moving traffic violation fine and keep it off your record, “Will” preparation. trial defense services, letters and phone calls in your behalf emergency services 24/7.

LegalShield also offers identity theft for a separate fee.

If you are in a business that it would make sense to be in a MLM because you believe in the product and it compliments what you are doing, it might be a good fit.

Some people dream of being true entrepreneurs and opening their own business. It takes several years to build a business.

Depending on the business anywhere from 4 – 10 years if you work it fulltime. If its part time double that, if you work 80 hours or more week, it could be shorter, you could cut that in half.

Do you have that kind of time?  Be sure you want this commitment and have the time. Most businesses fail.

Middle Class

Are those that have a job, and can meet their expenses without help from the government. They may have money in the bank and might be able to afford a vacation.

The ambition for those that are poor or lower middle class is to get to this place.

Once upon a time the American dream was to own a house with a white picket fence. It wasn’t about getting rich and owning a mansion, with a yacht, and multiple cars or homes all over the world.

I remember a story told by a financial advisor about a husband and wife in their fifties. After saving money for most of their life and living frugally as school bus drivers, they went to a financial advisor to find out if they could retire early.

The advisor was skeptical about their ability to do so, considering their occupation. When the advisor looked at their investments and assets, he was shocked.

They owned their home and vehicles, had little to no debt and each had savings from their retirement accounts of around 500k each. There was no question they could retire.

Income does not define wealth, but rather how much is saved and spent.

Much could be said about living below our means.

Warren Buffet got to where he is today by living below his means.

Too many businesses and financial Gurus telling the masses you have to spend money to make money, only to convince you to buy their product or service.

It isn’t a secret. Everyone has heard this before, but how many are doing it? If you do not know how to start or begin, this website is for you. Prosperity Club will continue to add resources that will introduce experts, through blogs, podcasts and videos.

Living Below your Means

Whether you have moved from poverty to lower middle class, or lower middle class to middle class. You want to have more discretionary income to be able to do the things you couldn’t afford to do when you were broke.

The reason why I prefer to track spending rather than budget, is not that I don’t have a budget, it’s that budget alone doesn’t solve the issues of what one spends.

A budget determines how much should be spent and on what. Tracking is keeping a log of how much money is going where. Before you budget track what you spend and where it is going.

For an entire year I tracked all my spending.

It doesn’t matter which medium you use to track spending if you see monthly and yearly averages.

I did a monthly and yearly average of all expenses, then I compared the cost of my utilities and what the average was for my community.

I wanted to get to what was at least average or better than average.

Most of my expenses were gas and electricity. For example, my electricity was twice as much as the average. My neighborhood average was around $150 - $200 a month for electric. I was spending $400 -$500 a month.

Here is why a budget wouldn’t have worked:

  • I would be changing the thermostat to lowering my bills rather than finding out where the problem was coming from.
  •  The house that I have uses central air conditioning. The unit was way too small for the size of the house making it run much harder and not cooling off the house.
  • It also wasn’t as energy efficient as newer models.

Factoring in the unit size and the energy efficiency, I needed a new system including a new boiler (mine was almost 50 years old).

By replacing my boiler and going solar, they would pay for themselves in 3 and a half years.

  • My solar bill is $100.49 a month and electric bill is $53 each month.
  • My gas was reduced by $75 a month. The rain this season has kept my city bill for water, trash, and other things at $83 a quarter. It used to be around $350 a quarter.

To lower my utilities further, I will be changing the landscaping. Planting vegetation that doesn’t need to be watered provides shade without interfering with the solar and yet still gives the curbside appeal.

If you are overspending, then there needs to be a budget.

Usually when this happens children are involved. Cranking up the heat or air with no clue how much that costs the household.

I didn’t have to lower my thermostat. I needed to look for the source of the problem and make changes. Look for the source of the problem first before you make budget cuts.

How To Determine If I am in Middle Class

When Financial Catastrophe Hits

Most financial advisors talk about an emergency fund of at least 3 months of living expenses.

I have been through 8 recessions including the pandemic of 2020 and I can tell you that none of them only lasted 3 months. They have all been over a year. Three months should be a starting point.

It is preferable to have one year with a cushion for anything that breaks down and needs to be replaced or fixed during this time.

Part of preparedness is having additional insurance that covers an appliance repair or replacement.

It is likely that those in the middle-class have briefly experienced poverty during recessions or the pandemic of 2020. You can minimize the effects by having things in place.

Why is food storage and having other essentials important? During emergencies store shelves are empty. It’s hard to get what you need and when you do you are paying exponentially more.

Go through the things you use often; make a list of things you would need to have on hand and make sure you have it.

Have a variety of frozen, canned and freeze dried. If you have freeze dried do to forget to store enough water, especially if you live in the desert.

Frozen food lasts anywhere from 3 months to 1 year depending on what you are storing and for anything shrink wrapped the shelf life is longer.

Canned food lasts up to 5 years as long as the cans aren't dented.

Freeze dried can last up to 30 years. Water is needed for these items to rehydrate them.

A common mistake for those that store essentials is never using it. You want to use and rotate as needed. Do not store foods you do not eat. If you do not eat them now, you won’t eat them later.

Buying in bulk can save lots of money. Buy when you see it on sale rather than when you need it or worse yet when everyone needs it at the same time, and they are paying triple the regular cost.

Instituting these practices saved me from having to rely on government welfare including the pandemic.

During the pandemic those on unemployment got additional funding from the government. I was one of those.

I didn’t have to ask for food stamps. I had plenty of food, and I didn’t need money for my other expenses. I planned for it.

Contrary to popular belief, people didn’t make more money on unemployment than they did when they were working unless maybe they were low-income workers or living in low-income states where wages were lower.

Upper Middle Class

These are the people as well as the rich who shape the politics of our country and how we live. The upper middle class and the rich influence how political candidates vote because they are the ones most likely to vote and be involved in politics.

Often the upper middle class have graduate degrees, above average incomes from professional occupations like doctor or lawyer.

Rich vs Wealthy

People use these words interchangeably thinking they mean the same thing, but they don’t. A rich person has a great paying job, that pays great money. Being rich is about income.

An example of rich without wealth would be actors like Nicholas Cage or MC Hammer who went from riches to rags. They were rich not wealthy and when the money was gone, they were broke.

Some lottery winners could be categorized this way.

Wealthy is someone that has managed their money to work for them. You can be wealthy without being rich.