A sizable majority of the population may be middle class, and we frequently hear about America’s shrinking middle class and its economic impact. They almost appear to be robots, as some of their reasoning, as you will discover, is similar. Therefore, I have a question for you: Do you believe you are middle-class?
To that end, here are ten indicators that call those claims into question.
1. You believe in the American dream
The majority of people admire the American dream, which is about a land of milk and honey for those who do not live in the United States of America.
Adults in the middle class are more than obsessed with the American dream. A superior education, a mansion, and the ability to drive your dream car. Additionally, the middle class fantasises about working their dream job and achieving great success in it. You’ll discover that the majority still believe that anyone can achieve the hallmarks of a successful life, and even a survey concluded that 55% of middle-class respondents believed that anyone could achieve the hallmarks of a successful life, compared to 48% of the overall population.
Given that the middle class comprises high earners, there is a correlation between wealth and belief in the dream. For example, homeownership has long been a staple of American middle-class life; however, in the aftermath of the real estate crash, little about the dream remains admirable, as the majority opt for renting as a more affordable option.
2. You’re slightly more optimistic about the economy
In 2017, a study found that the middle class was more optimistic about the economy. This group accounted for nearly half of self-identified middle-class Americans. Currently, the stakes are high, given the ongoing pandemic, which has affected the majority, if not all, of the world’s economies. Although the lower middle class is facing a severe downturn, an increasing number of people are optimistic about the future and are making the best of the situation. The majority have begun side hustles, and some have chosen to expand their businesses online to stay afloat.
3. A College Education for the Kids
For the middle class, higher education is akin to a rite of passage. This is why most of them are drowning in student debt, which they will continue to pay for years to come—all due to their upbringing. The grandiose notion is that you must have a college degree to advance in life.
As you are probably aware, tuition fees are not inexpensive and can range from the low tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, depending on the type of college, the cost may be higher. While a parent’s level of education is not always a factor in determining middle-class status, supporting and saving for a child’s education is frequently.
Many middle-class parents devote everything they have to their children’s college education to ensure their success. While a college degree does not always guarantee a prosperous future, a higher level of education has long been associated with greater earning power. In recent years, an increasing number of people have realised that all that is required are skills and specialisation. As long as you are certified, there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars and years on an education that will be obsolete in a few years.
4. Where One Shops
While it may seem trivial, where one shops frequently indicate one’s class status, much like the type of car one drives. Consider this: Do you ever imagine running into Marc Cuban at the dollar store or Target? Even when it comes to bulk purchasing or discount chains, stores frequently carry a stigma. I’m not sure why anyone would label these establishments classically; however, the middle class has certain mannerisms that are difficult to ignore. For instance, Target is one of the most middle-class shopping destinations. They even go above and beyond advertising and are frequently viewed as a middle-class alternative to Walmart.
Apart from household purchases, the middle class is brand loyal. Clothing stores such as H&M and Zara also cater to the middle class, while the upper-middle class and upper class gravitate toward sustainable fashion. This is not to say that the middle class does not indulge in designer clothing. Quite the contrary, they lavishly spend money on high-end designer brands solely on the advice of their favourite celebrities. That is why some have become trapped in a debt cycle they cannot seem to break free from.
Mark Zuckerberg is a member of the ultra-rich class, yet he dresses in $30 t-shirts. So why would someone in the middle class, who earns less than 1% of his net income, require an $800 t-shirt?
Therefore, before considering brand names, prioritise value.
5. Leisure Class
Are you constantly anticipating the weekend? Are you a Starbucks latte fan? Then perhaps you are a member of the middle class. Historically, only the upper class and the unemployed enjoyed leisure time, while their labour consumed the working class and middle class. This changed over time, as working hours decreased from 100 to approximately 44 hours per week. This freed up time for leisure activities and possibly self-destructive behaviours.
If you observe most middle-class people, they are constantly anticipating the weekend, usually for rest and random escapades. If there is anyone who knows how to party, it is the middle class. They boosted the entertainment industry by adapting to emerging trends.
As previously stated, the middle class enjoys luxury. Anything considered fancy is most likely to capture their attention. Even the cafes they frequent, in this case, Starbucks, are expensive and continue to thrive solely on the strength of the hype.
6. Your household earns between $50,000 to $125,000
According to research, half of the self-identified middle-class individuals earn more than $50,000 but less than $125,000 per year. The majority, however, earn between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. If your family earns between $40,000 and $100,000, you are most likely middle-class. While this one may seem self-evident, income is a significant determining factor. However, location is critical. The middle class in one region of the country may not qualify as such in another, as certain areas may have a higher cost of living. A median family on the east coast typically earns $85,000 per year, while those in more rural areas earn just $55,000.
7. Tax Burden
If a high tax rate burdens you, you suffer from the plague destroying the middle class. By simply eliminating discretionary income, a high tax burden can instantly reduce the size of the middle class. It is common for the middle class to face a higher tax burden than the upper class, owing to regressive taxes and sophisticated tax strategies available to high net worth individuals.
8. Your parents were middle or lower-middle-class
I’m not trying to put an end to your dreams of breaking boundaries and entering the upper class, but studies show that 70% of adults who identify as middle-class grew up in middle-class or lower-middle-class households. To be precise, approximately 43% said their parents were middle-class, while 27% said their parents were lower-middle-class. That, however, is not all. External factors, such as the environment where you grew up, can affect your chances of success by limiting your access to opportunities. For example, Raj Chetty’s research indicates that poor children born in certain cities have a lower chance of climbing the socioeconomic ladder than their counterparts, which could be due to the quality of public schools and the strength of local economies. The stability of the middle class varies over generations, as some Americans move in and out of the middle class.
9. Fear of Missing Out
FOMO, as it is dubbed, is a trait associated with the middle class. Have you ever wondered why certain groups of people gravitate toward similar travel destinations or possess similar gadgets? Often, it’s things they’re not particularly passionate about and do or purchase purely for the sake of it. This is because the middle class frequently compares itself to the upper class and peers. FOMO is defined as the perception that one’s peers succeed in life and can result in intense existential angst or a fear of missing out.
As a result, the middle class begins to imitate one another’s ideas and behaviours and the use of certain products, services, and experiences to avoid missing out. This is why certain trends gain popularity quickly. In a nutshell, the middle class is the ideal demographic for selling trendy items.
10. A good job
The middle class, if anything, is obsessed with the concept of a good job. Not only does he have an attractive salary, but he also has excellent long-term benefits. A full-time job with health and retirement benefits, particularly when it comes to health care and some retirement benefits, has long been considered a cornerstone of middle-class economic security.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56% of American workers are covered by their employers for health insurance. All civilian employees have access to a pension plan at a rate of 27%, and 58% have access to a retirement savings plan such as a 401(k) (k). According to another independent study, 47% of Americans have these “good jobs.”
Even if you do not rely on your employer’s contributions, you are more likely to have retirement savings plan if you are in the middle class.
That is, gentlemen, a couple of indicators that you may be in the middle class.