Author Topic: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.  (Read 17303 times)

Bloop Bloop

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #50 on: September 17, 2019, 02:10:01 AM »
So all you're trying to say is that people who work may or may not be middle class?

I wrote a lot more than that, maybe go back and read it carefully. Also maybe pick up some history books and read until you realize that historically society has had two classes, an upper class and some much worse off class (even Investopedia has an article on it). The middle class isn't the middle because you have a median income. It's the middle because it goes between what Marx would call the Bourgeois and the Working Class. But in order to be Bourgeois you need to own the means of production, so it is hard to say that you are Bourgeois if you don't have capital.

It's silly to say there are only two classes. There's a petit bourgeoisie - the tradies, shop owners, doctors, law firm partners etc who start off as employees but end up with a tiny slice of capital, and who control their own work and run their own businesses.

Everyone owns his or her body and brain, and that's the means of production that's most important today.

PDXTabs

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #51 on: September 17, 2019, 06:43:07 AM »
It's silly to say there are only two classes. There's a petit bourgeoisie - the tradies, shop owners, doctors, law firm partners etc who start off as employees but end up with a tiny slice of capital, and who control their own work and run their own businesses.

I completely agree, that basically mirrors the upper middle class wikipedia article that I linked to above. But it is also true that my grandfather was able to accumulate capital with an eight grade education at a blue collar job with a good pension and that part of the middle class is almost gone and arguably never going to come back.

cloudsail

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #52 on: September 17, 2019, 10:14:14 AM »
The thing is, there was a period last year and early this year where we ate out or got takeout waaaay more than we should. Like multiple times on the weekdays and three or four times on the weekends. Yeah not proud of it, and we've since gotten our act together. But even then our food spending wasn't as much as this couple's. Which is why I find it hard to imagine what it is they could possibly be eating.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #53 on: September 17, 2019, 10:28:21 AM »

The childcare + preschool expense is $53k, way high for what looks like 2 kids.  And food is pretty crazy too.

Also living in the Bay Area, for two working parents the childcare+preschool expense for two kids is maybe on the higher end, but doesn't look that out of line to me. We currently have a 3.5-year-old.  His preschool is about $1800/month.  For a child under 2, it would be more like $2200/month.  So if we had a second child and were both working, we'd be paying $48k/yr.  We did look around at different options when we were setting up childcare.  We found that 1) there's not a lot of choice in terms of just who has spots open 2) many cheaper places have hours that don't really work well for two parents working FT (which I think is the case for most families grossing this kind of income...).  We looked at another place near our house that was a little cheaper, but was open only 8-5:30, vs 7-6.  I know families who have their kids in places with the shorter hours and guess what, they often will have a nanny picking the kids up a few days a week, making childcare overall more expensive.

I'm not going to say that my husband and I are "middle class", I know our income means we are doing pretty well, even for our area.  But within the Bay Area, housing is in relatively short supply and the result is that buying a home is a pretty daunting proposition even WITH a large salary.  A small 2-bedroom house down the street from us went for $1.3 million two years ago and we do not live in Nob Hill.  I can see how people with large salaries feel they are only "middle class" when that's the home their mammoth salary will buy.

mm1970

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #54 on: September 17, 2019, 10:42:01 AM »

The childcare + preschool expense is $53k, way high for what looks like 2 kids.  And food is pretty crazy too.

Also living in the Bay Area, for two working parents the childcare+preschool expense for two kids is maybe on the higher end, but doesn't look that out of line to me. We currently have a 3.5-year-old.  His preschool is about $1800/month.  For a child under 2, it would be more like $2200/month.  So if we had a second child and were both working, we'd be paying $48k/yr.  We did look around at different options when we were setting up childcare. We found that 1) there's not a lot of choice in terms of just who has spots open 2) many cheaper places have hours that don't really work well for two parents working FT (which I think is the case for most families grossing this kind of income...).  We looked at another place near our house that was a little cheaper, but was open only 8-5:30, vs 7-6.  I know families who have their kids in places with the shorter hours and guess what, they often will have a nanny picking the kids up a few days a week, making childcare overall more expensive.

I'm not going to say that my husband and I are "middle class", I know our income means we are doing pretty well, even for our area.  But within the Bay Area, housing is in relatively short supply and the result is that buying a home is a pretty daunting proposition even WITH a large salary.  A small 2-bedroom house down the street from us went for $1.3 million two years ago and we do not live in Nob Hill.  I can see how people with large salaries feel they are only "middle class" when that's the home their mammoth salary will buy.
This is something that fascinates me, and makes me glad we never made the move to Bay Area, like many of our friends.

Yes, we could be making a lot more money.  Prob $200k more, if I were hazard a guess.

But, we were visiting friends a couple of years ago, and they were on the nanny hunt, as theirs just up and quit. Their jobs were being nice and flexible with work at home and leaving early in the meantime.  (School aged children, lots of after school activities.)

So, our friends asked how we survive without a nanny?  I said "well, we just shift our schedules".  Meaning, one of us works 7:30 - 4:30 and the other works 9-6, or thereabouts.  So the later start person does kid drop off and the early start person does kid pick up.  Of course there's the occasional in service day, sick day, dr appts, etc., where we may work from home more than that.  And when my spouse travels, my hours are 9 to 4:45, because I have to do both.  (Our kids have after school programs at their school.)

And, they really couldn't conceive of this idea - of work/life balance, or of the work place being understanding of those schedules.  Now, I don't know exactly what hours they work (it was a weekend).  That brought back memories of my days in DC with the more type-A cutthroat, crazy work hours schedule that is expected.  I want nothing of that.  I guess it can be never ending if everyone does it.  At least where I am (coastal So/ central Cal), I was able to push back on that.  It wasn't easy (I was the only mom).
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 10:45:00 AM by mm1970 »

mm1970

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #55 on: September 17, 2019, 10:52:49 AM »
The thing is, there was a period last year and early this year where we ate out or got takeout waaaay more than we should. Like multiple times on the weekdays and three or four times on the weekends. Yeah not proud of it, and we've since gotten our act together. But even then our food spending wasn't as much as this couple's. Which is why I find it hard to imagine what it is they could possibly be eating.
It's really not that hard to get there with a combination of a few things:
1.  Organic/ grass fed.  If you are eating grass fed, local, organic, meats and wild fish...I have friends who do this, and buy local.  For a family of 4 or 5, you are easily eating 2 lbs a day, probably more.  And at $10 / lb MINIMUM (that's what ground beef costs, you really have to assume an average of $15/ lb) = $11,000 a year in meat alone.

2. Organic fruits and veg can easily be $3000/ year.  That's about what we spend (though for us, that's 35% of our total budget).

3.  Meals out.  If you eat out once a week for the whole family, you can easily hit $100.  Heck, my kids get a hankering for a particular sandwich place and it's $65 for 4 sandwiches.  That's another $5000.

There you are at almost $20,000, and you haven't even bought milk or rice or beans or pasta or cheese.

cloudsail

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #56 on: September 17, 2019, 10:55:16 AM »
Can't you get a nanny or au pair for much less than 50k per year? When we were in the Bay Area and I was still working, we had a live-in nanny. She also picked up my son from preschool and did basic chores, and didn't cost nearly that much.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #57 on: September 17, 2019, 11:30:56 AM »
Can't you get a nanny or au pair for much less than 50k per year? When we were in the Bay Area and I was still working, we had a live-in nanny. She also picked up my son from preschool and did basic chores, and didn't cost nearly that much.

We briefly did a nannyshare.  Splitting the nanny cost between 3 kids was about the same as daycare, splitting between 2 kids was quite a bit more than daycare (we did do it legally w/ payroll taxes and all that, which definitely drives the cost up a bit).  An au pair or live in might be cheaper, but requires a larger (and more expensive) home as they will need their own bedroom.  We didn't look into a live-in option much as we definitely did NOT have space.

I know with our daycare, the cost has gone up pretty regularly each year, by $50-150/mo each year.  Not sure when you were living here but if it was a while ago that may be why the cost seems high.

We have definitely been looking around to move, just having a hard time settling on the next place.  Unfortunately a lot of the good/interesting jobs are in areas that are still quite expensive.  We also really want to live somewhere that doesn't require daily driving, which seems to be tricky in many areas.  For the moment we realize this is the price we pay for living here (and aside from housing and childcare, our costs are VERY low...much lower than a lot of what I see posted on these forums!).  And while we moan about the cost of buying a house or childcare, we're still socking away plenty of money and I would *never* say that we are "barely getting by".  We're very comfortable from a financial standpoint.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #58 on: September 17, 2019, 11:53:20 AM »
To add onto the childcare cost aspect, Elizabeth Warren has proposed a universal childcare program which caps the cost of childcare at 7% of a family's salary.  I haven't seen any specifics on whether that is 7% per child or per family, but if it is per child, well....7% of $350k is $24k/yr.


cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #59 on: September 17, 2019, 12:41:37 PM »
And to triple post :)  As someone who does live in the Bay Area, I do find *most* of the numbers on this budget to be...high.  Some stuff we manage to do that this fictional and "vetted by thousands of Financial Samurai readers" family does not:

Food: First, we don't do a weekly date night.  Since we're already paying $$ for daytime childcare, we take advantage of that and meet for brown bag lunch dates.  We also cook most of our food from scratch and shop specials, don't eat much meat, etc.  I looked back through our past few years of spending and even when I was pregnant (when we were definitely eating more convenience foods and I was buying random single serving this or that hoping it might help with morning sickness) we were spending about $18/day on food.  Other years have been less.  Okay, we are only 3 people, but I don't see a second kid suddenly hoovering up $50/day in food.  If you are two people earning $350k per year presumably at least some of your food needs are subsidized by your employer (i.e. company cafeteria, lots of office snacks, or just basic out of town travel requiring you to expense meals to your employer...my company is not particularly lavish in this regard and I still probably average one meal per week on the company dime, and I know there are other positions within my company that involve a lot more business lunches).  Also, if you're paying as much as we do for childcare, the place should be supplying at LEAST your kids weekday snacks, some places also do lunch.  My point here is that no family of four bringing in $350k/yr is actually paying for 12 meals per day out of their grocery budget, so this number is even more silly than it initially seems.  I'm sure it's *possible* to spend $70/day (many of my colleagues eat lunch out daily, for example), but it's not at all necessary.

529: While this is commendable, I'm not sure I would really class it as a necessary expense...

Home stuff: can't really comment in detail as we still rent, but our monthly rent is less than that mortgage payment by quite a bit!  Though an online mortgage calculator tells me the monthly payment on a $1.8mil home is $6,800/mo, not the $4k cited in the article.  ???

Utilities: Ours are a lot lower! Last year we averaged $83/mo.  Water is included in our rent, some googling suggests we might pay ~$100/month if paying it as a separate line item, so let's say our utilities *could* be up to $200/month. Still at lot less than the $500 month of this example family!  We are pretty good about turning lights off when not in use, etc. but don't do anything too out there to keep our costs/use down.

Life insurance: umm...we decided we have enough $$$ that we can forgo it.  Hopefully won't regret that decision!
Umbrella policy: what?  I find so many abandoned umbrellas out when it rains...is this some kind of replacement program for the people who keep losing them?
Health care: You earn $350k/yr and this is the best your employer can come up with? We pay <$200/month for employer subsidized care.  Even when my husband was working at not-so-family-friendly startups I think they did better than this example...
Baby items: Just, WTF. We spend <$1k
Vacation: We do one "destination" vacation/yr and then local stuff like camping trips. Our last "destination" vacation cost about $2500, so I guess if we took two of them...but we don't.
Entertainment: Our library has an awesome streaming service!  For social stuff we meet up with friends at parks.
Car payment: We have an older Honda Fit.  We do have a payment b/c the interest rate is so low.  Payment is about $115 mo
Other car expenses: We spent about $900 on these things last year
Mobile phone: I think we all know this expense can be lower than $150/mo!
Clothes: typically <$1k/yr for the family.  We just don't buy a lot.  When we do, thrift stores, ebay, or just sales at mainstream stores seem to get the job done. Kiddo gets a lot of hand-me-downs, so far he is young enough not to be too fashion conscious.
Personal care products: Having a hard time pulling this number out of our expenses but it's definitely <$100/month.  What is this?  I'm thinking shampoo, soap, deodorant, razors, sunscreen, chapstick....
Charity: Not going to quibble with this one, we actually donate a tad more each year but to each his own.
Student loans: Finally a number I agree with!


Gremlin

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #60 on: September 17, 2019, 06:10:47 PM »
Thanks for those suggestions, Big H! As you say, the decision to try to eat in more often is driven more by health concerns than cost/benefit analysis about spending. Processed/take-away food is rarely healthy, and the alternative of buying salads and other vaguely healthy stuff from the supermarket is a bit of a chore, so it's better in the long run for us to try to figure out an uncomplicated way of cooking. I will check out the crock pot suggestion!
One of the other advantages of a slow cooker/crock pot option is that it's just as much effort to prep multiple meals as it is to prep one.  So right now I have a beef curry on the go in the kitchen.  20 minutes of prep this morning will probably yield three to four meals for a family of four (including two teenage food demolition machines).  One for tonight and the rest in the freezer for when life becomes busy.  Just add rice and we're good to go.

Ynari

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #61 on: September 17, 2019, 09:40:18 PM »
The thing is, there was a period last year and early this year where we ate out or got takeout waaaay more than we should. Like multiple times on the weekdays and three or four times on the weekends. Yeah not proud of it, and we've since gotten our act together. But even then our food spending wasn't as much as this couple's. Which is why I find it hard to imagine what it is they could possibly be eating.
It's really not that hard to get there with a combination of a few things:
1.  Organic/ grass fed.  If you are eating grass fed, local, organic, meats and wild fish...I have friends who do this, and buy local.  For a family of 4 or 5, you are easily eating 2 lbs a day, probably more.  And at $10 / lb MINIMUM (that's what ground beef costs, you really have to assume an average of $15/ lb) = $11,000 a year in meat alone.

2. Organic fruits and veg can easily be $3000/ year.  That's about what we spend (though for us, that's 35% of our total budget).

3.  Meals out.  If you eat out once a week for the whole family, you can easily hit $100.  Heck, my kids get a hankering for a particular sandwich place and it's $65 for 4 sandwiches.  That's another $5000.

There you are at almost $20,000, and you haven't even bought milk or rice or beans or pasta or cheese.

The USDA sets the "liberal food plan" (Liberal is benchmarked to the upper quartile of food spending) for a household of 4 at $1292.70 per month, or $15,512.40 per year for groceries. Now, 36.7% of every "food dollar" is spent on dining out, so if we run the math we get $8,993.52 spent on dining out every year (proportionally), bringing us to $24,505.53. Granted, the wealthy tend to spend more than average, proportionally, on dining out, so a wealthy family following a "liberal" but managed dining plan could easily make $25,000 per annum, true.

But it is also something that is more the illusion of middle class rather than the reality. High quality steak and organic potatoes looks a lot like discount steak and the cheapest russets you can find, but it can cost more than twice as much. Dining out three or four times a week instead of once or twice, again, doesn't feel different if you're going to the same places, but it can be twice as expensive. Being able to choose what you want regardless of price is not a middle class luxury.

Personally, I eat the way you say, in a HCOL area. Produce and dining out come out similarly for me. But my meat spending is about half. I don't eat grassfed steak pretty much ever - I buy sausage and chicken. I buy in bulk. I usually have a meatless night once per week. I still feel like the fanciest fancy pants because I can afford pasture raised meat at all! We spend $661/month for two people, inclusive of all food/dining out/alcohol. I know mustachianism is about recognizing the luxury of modern life, but I felt this way before MMM. I remember how special it was to find grassfed ground beef for $7/lbs in the freezer section of the commissary when I was a teenager. I remember my dad telling me that I could buy any produce I want, because "produce is cheap!" Even then I'd scout the pricing, setting limits like $2/pound of bulk produce because I knew out-of-season produce could be unreasonable (hello, avocados). Now that I am *rich*, my limit is over twice that at $5/lbs!

Growing up in a military family, I had a generally stable life that really felt middle class. My partner and I now make nearly double what my dad makes - and we're at the beginning of our careers while he is finishing his. Yes, location makes a difference, but I'd be disrespecting my upbringing to think that my personal choices for fancy grassfed meats and organic produce are anything but an upper class luxury.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #62 on: September 17, 2019, 10:45:44 PM »
The thing is, there was a period last year and early this year where we ate out or got takeout waaaay more than we should. Like multiple times on the weekdays and three or four times on the weekends. Yeah not proud of it, and we've since gotten our act together. But even then our food spending wasn't as much as this couple's. Which is why I find it hard to imagine what it is they could possibly be eating.
It's really not that hard to get there with a combination of a few things:
1.  Organic/ grass fed.  If you are eating grass fed, local, organic, meats and wild fish...I have friends who do this, and buy local.  For a family of 4 or 5, you are easily eating 2 lbs a day, probably more.  And at $10 / lb MINIMUM (that's what ground beef costs, you really have to assume an average of $15/ lb) = $11,000 a year in meat alone.

2. Organic fruits and veg can easily be $3000/ year.  That's about what we spend (though for us, that's 35% of our total budget).

3.  Meals out.  If you eat out once a week for the whole family, you can easily hit $100.  Heck, my kids get a hankering for a particular sandwich place and it's $65 for 4 sandwiches.  That's another $5000.

There you are at almost $20,000, and you haven't even bought milk or rice or beans or pasta or cheese.

I would not be surprised to discover some of my colleagues DO spend this much money on food. Buying lunch daily ($10-$20) is common. Buying coffee ($3-5) daily is common. Breakfast/brunch out on weekends with the kids, common. Buying whatever looks good at the grocery store, common. One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Itís totally possible. But itís not middle class.

caleb

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #63 on: September 18, 2019, 08:44:30 AM »
@mm1970 Wait, two adults with two very small children average two pounds of beef a day?

That's like both adults eating a third pound burger for both lunch and dinner every single day of the week, with the kids splitting another third pounder twice a day, every day of the week.

Heart attack incoming!

caleb

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #64 on: September 18, 2019, 09:08:58 AM »
-25,500 on food

get in mah belly!!!

That's $491/week.  There is simply no realistic world in which more than half of that is going for groceries.  Sometimes I get really lazy and just order whatever we want or whatever looks good from Whole Foods with zero thought to price.  Even with a tip, and usually ordering four pounds of coffee at a time, I've never managed to break $150, and that order will easily last us a week.  If we go to the farmer's market and buy cut flowers and some artisanal bread or whatever, maybe we could manage to spend another $50 by giving the remainder to the community garden.  That's still $200/week just buying whatever the heck catches our fancy in the laziest, most indulgent manner possible.

The only possible way I see to pad this food budget out another $300+/week is to go to some really expensive restaurants, eat a ton of takeout and delivery, and wash it down drinking expensive booze running through a firehose.

I'd love to see an itemized breakdown of how someone manages to spend $500/week on food, and what their colon and waistline look like after a few years of it.

Davnasty

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #65 on: September 18, 2019, 09:12:17 AM »
@mm1970 Wait, two adults with two very small children average two pounds of beef a day?

That's like both adults eating a third pound burger for both lunch and dinner every single day of the week, with the kids splitting another third pounder twice a day, every day of the week.

Heart attack incoming!

The justification included meat like fish which could be even more expensive and pull the average up to $15/lb. Still though, that's a lot of meat. I think it's more likely that someone spending over $20,000/year on food is eating out multiple times per week and buying very expensive prepared food. The last time I was in a Whole Foods (prior to Amazon buying them) I saw a container of potato salad for $8, it wasn't even close to enough for a 1 person meal.

ETA: Another good point in the last post, they may have included alcohol in the "Food" category. That changes everything for someone who likes pricey wine.

« Last Edit: September 18, 2019, 09:14:19 AM by Dabnasty »

mm1970

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #66 on: September 18, 2019, 12:20:55 PM »
@mm1970 Wait, two adults with two very small children average two pounds of beef a day?

That's like both adults eating a third pound burger for both lunch and dinner every single day of the week, with the kids splitting another third pounder twice a day, every day of the week.

Heart attack incoming!
I'm thinking more of friends who are a family of 5, but yeah.  They tend to eat lower carb.  They eat meat for lunch and dinner every day.  So, that's a pound of meat for lunch and a pound of meat for dinner, so 4 oz per person per meal (if you are talking 4 people).  Grassfed beef and lamb ($15-20 a pound), wild salmon (same).  Free range chickens at $20 each will at least last two days.   If you like steak, and eat it once a week, it's not going to be cheap.  Wild salmon is not cheap either, and if I wanted to eat it weekly?  I mean, I do want to eat it weekly but that's 1 pound for each meal (4 people).  Actually the recommendation is to eat fish 3x a week.

I'd hazard a guess that most people who come close to this spending number do it more by eating out more often, at least a few times a week.   Still, I know a family or two who spend that on groceries, and that's how they do it - buying all the meat and fish at the farmer's market.

jps

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #67 on: September 18, 2019, 12:50:11 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!

caleb

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #68 on: September 18, 2019, 01:04:49 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!

Sounds like a euphemism for my dog squatting in the yard.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #69 on: September 18, 2019, 01:08:50 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!

Sounds like a euphemism for my dog squatting in the yard.

www.dailyharvest.com

The ingredients are nice, but not $8/serving nice, IMHO

We also have a local brand of crackers that is $9 for a 5oz package. If you have the money, there are definitely opportunities to blow it in the Bay Area!

cloudsail

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #70 on: September 18, 2019, 02:11:21 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!

Sounds like a euphemism for my dog squatting in the yard.

www.dailyharvest.com

The ingredients are nice, but not $8/serving nice, IMHO

We also have a local brand of crackers that is $9 for a 5oz package. If you have the money, there are definitely opportunities to blow it in the Bay Area!

Wow, I've seen their ads but had no idea that's how much they cost. For $8, can't I just go out and get a smoothie made for me? Why would I bother making it myself at home?

StarBright

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #71 on: September 18, 2019, 02:50:52 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!


www.dailyharvest.com

The ingredients are nice, but not $8/serving nice, IMHO

We also have a local brand of crackers that is $9 for a 5oz package. If you have the money, there are definitely opportunities to blow it in the Bay Area!

Wow, I've seen their ads but had no idea that's how much they cost. For $8, can't I just go out and get a smoothie made for me? Why would I bother making it myself at home?

I actually get a daily harvest delivery once in a while (though we use it for vegan bowls more than for smoothies). FWIW - I have tried to recreate their recipes and it ain't cheap! We also live in a place where it is really hard to find certain organic and vegan stuff without driving an hour so having the variety, healthy ingredients and ease are definitely worth it to us when we are stretched too thin (certainly beats unhealthy takeout for us).  Also - a "monthly" sized delivery is 7 bucks an item - so comparable to eating chipotle but WAY healthier.

dandarc

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #72 on: September 18, 2019, 04:03:25 PM »
One woman I know has a smoothie delivery subscription, $8/smoothie and she has one every morning...

Smoothie Delivery Subscription is something I never would have imagined reading. WOW!


www.dailyharvest.com

The ingredients are nice, but not $8/serving nice, IMHO

We also have a local brand of crackers that is $9 for a 5oz package. If you have the money, there are definitely opportunities to blow it in the Bay Area!

Wow, I've seen their ads but had no idea that's how much they cost. For $8, can't I just go out and get a smoothie made for me? Why would I bother making it myself at home?

I actually get a daily harvest delivery once in a while (though we use it for vegan bowls more than for smoothies). FWIW - I have tried to recreate their recipes and it ain't cheap! We also live in a place where it is really hard to find certain organic and vegan stuff without driving an hour so having the variety, healthy ingredients and ease are definitely worth it to us when we are stretched too thin (certainly beats unhealthy takeout for us).  Also - a "monthly" sized delivery is 7 bucks an item - so comparable to eating chipotle but WAY healthier.
Plus no need to stock up on chipotl-away. Saving money coming and going.

cats

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #73 on: September 19, 2019, 09:55:58 AM »


I actually get a daily harvest delivery once in a while (though we use it for vegan bowls more than for smoothies). FWIW - I have tried to recreate their recipes and it ain't cheap! We also live in a place where it is really hard to find certain organic and vegan stuff without driving an hour so having the variety, healthy ingredients and ease are definitely worth it to us when we are stretched too thin (certainly beats unhealthy takeout for us).  Also - a "monthly" sized delivery is 7 bucks an item - so comparable to eating chipotle but WAY healthier.

See, I can (kind of) see this as a reason for getting something like the smoothie delivery if you live in an area where the individual ingredients are hard to source.  But...the Bay Area (where the guy who wrote this article and budget lives) is definitely NOT that area.  I clicked through the Daily Harvest smoothies and all the exotic ingredients they list (goji berries, acai, raw caco, ashwaganhda) are available at a grocery store within a mile of my home (which I think is actually closer than any smoothie shops, though I would have to look into that a bit more...), which I visit weekly for produce anyway.  And fresh fruit/veg is one thing you can get VERY cheaply out here (if you go to the right stores), because you are so much closer to where everything is grown.  I'm not sure what the exact proportions of things are in the DH smoothies but unless they are using a LOT of the expensive specialty ingredients, I'm pretty sure I can recreate all of them at home for under $4, and some of them I think I could probably manage for under $1.  I took a quick look at the vegan bowls and I would say the same for them.  So in this area, you are entirely paying a premium price for the convenience of not having to chop/prep the stuff yourself.  The raw ingredients are not difficult to find.

I think also a lot of people justify this (and other convenience food related expenses) the way you just have--they view the alternative as "unhealthy takeout" rather than the option most of us here would consider desirable: cooking food themselves.  So yes, if your "only" option is to eat out, paying for a healthy vs. an unhealthy option seems more reasonable.  But these folks view this as their "only" option on an almost daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day.  I get that maybe sometimes life gets busy and you find yourself eating convenience foods.  But I think (hope?) most of us on this board would view that as a temporary/occasional thing, and if we found ourselves eating like that every day...we'd look for ways to make life less crazy and allow time for cooking.

Someone else commented on the impact of frequent eating out on your health/weight.  Well....many of the people I know who eat out frequently are also attempting to maintain a healthy weight, with the result that they pay even more of a premium to get healthy convenience food.  For example, near my office, you can go to a sandwich place and get a sandwich/chips/drink combo for $7.  OR, you can go to a salad place and have a fancy salad prepared for you for $12-$15.  Guess which spot has a line out the door at lunchtime?

coffeefueled

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #74 on: September 23, 2019, 01:58:41 PM »
I don't understand the food budget either or some of the earlier comments on groceries. DH and I eat a lot of grass fed beef. We buy a quarter cow in bulk - $5.75/lb including steaks, roasts, and ground beef. It would be cheaper if we bought ma whole cow or went with a farm that didn't price out in advance. I can't imagine that there aren't similar farm options available in California since it seems like they also have a thriving beef industry. If this family isn't eating out all the time it seems like they're shopping at the all organic fancy market instead of choosing a better option or doing any research on pricing. We also buy grassfed organic milk, but we get it at the regular grocery store and not the fancy organic market where the same brand is $1-2 more.

Since when does middle class mean these types of vacation and entertainment expenses? Does a massive part of the US really think everyone should be able to live like this? It doesn't make any sense to me how this is anything but very luxurious despite the HCOL area differences on daycare etc. It seems pretty out of touch.

StarBright

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #75 on: September 23, 2019, 02:37:05 PM »
...
Since when does middle class mean these types of vacation and entertainment expenses? Does a massive part of the US really think everyone should be able to live like this? It doesn't make any sense to me how this is anything but very luxurious despite the HCOL area differences on daycare etc. It seems pretty out of touch.

I actually think these articles show up every now and then because when you hit a certain income point you think life will be easier than middle class - but it isn't. And then it is shocking that you still have to carefully budget on 350k (if you live in a HCOL area). And not for nothin' but the types of jobs that give those salaries often require way more than 40 hours a week which means you must outsource life stuff (especially with kids, and even more so if you don't have a support network in the area).

It sucks to feel like you are doing everything right when it comes to savings for retirement and kids and then you don't have what you thought you'd have left over (when it comes to either money or energy).

That isn't to say the family in the original article can't make cuts, because we, here, know they can. But at some point, in America at least, we got it into our national psyche that if we work hard enough and do everything "right" then life will be sort of easy and golden. I think these "350k and middle class" articles stem from the dawning realization that nothing is easy and golden.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 03:08:10 PM by StarBright »

mm1970

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #76 on: September 23, 2019, 03:22:52 PM »
I don't understand the food budget either or some of the earlier comments on groceries. DH and I eat a lot of grass fed beef. We buy a quarter cow in bulk - $5.75/lb including steaks, roasts, and ground beef. It would be cheaper if we bought ma whole cow or went with a farm that didn't price out in advance. I can't imagine that there aren't similar farm options available in California since it seems like they also have a thriving beef industry. If this family isn't eating out all the time it seems like they're shopping at the all organic fancy market instead of choosing a better option or doing any research on pricing. We also buy grassfed organic milk, but we get it at the regular grocery store and not the fancy organic market where the same brand is $1-2 more.

Since when does middle class mean these types of vacation and entertainment expenses? Does a massive part of the US really think everyone should be able to live like this? It doesn't make any sense to me how this is anything but very luxurious despite the HCOL area differences on daycare etc. It seems pretty out of touch.

A brief foray into local-ish California beef costs - half cow, $9.49/lb for grass fed beef.
There are places in Idaho and elsewhere that will ship, but comes out to being the same price, approx.

California's not cheap.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #77 on: September 24, 2019, 12:11:01 AM »
I don't understand the food budget either or some of the earlier comments on groceries. DH and I eat a lot of grass fed beef. We buy a quarter cow in bulk - $5.75/lb including steaks, roasts, and ground beef. It would be cheaper if we bought ma whole cow or went with a farm that didn't price out in advance. I can't imagine that there aren't similar farm options available in California since it seems like they also have a thriving beef industry. If this family isn't eating out all the time it seems like they're shopping at the all organic fancy market instead of choosing a better option or doing any research on pricing. We also buy grassfed organic milk, but we get it at the regular grocery store and not the fancy organic market where the same brand is $1-2 more.

Since when does middle class mean these types of vacation and entertainment expenses? Does a massive part of the US really think everyone should be able to live like this? It doesn't make any sense to me how this is anything but very luxurious despite the HCOL area differences on daycare etc. It seems pretty out of touch.

A brief foray into local-ish California beef costs - half cow, $9.49/lb for grass fed beef.
There are places in Idaho and elsewhere that will ship, but comes out to being the same price, approx.

California's not cheap.

Would anyone consider a late season road trip into New Mexico? I have a line on some great grass fed beef. It is frozen solid and will last a 48 hour road trip back to CA. PM me and I will provide the link. I've been using them personally for years and can vouch for the excellent grass fed beef, although 2 years ago they gave me a Longhorn instead of a Corriente and I'm still eating the damn thing.

mm1970

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #78 on: September 24, 2019, 02:34:51 PM »
I don't understand the food budget either or some of the earlier comments on groceries. DH and I eat a lot of grass fed beef. We buy a quarter cow in bulk - $5.75/lb including steaks, roasts, and ground beef. It would be cheaper if we bought ma whole cow or went with a farm that didn't price out in advance. I can't imagine that there aren't similar farm options available in California since it seems like they also have a thriving beef industry. If this family isn't eating out all the time it seems like they're shopping at the all organic fancy market instead of choosing a better option or doing any research on pricing. We also buy grassfed organic milk, but we get it at the regular grocery store and not the fancy organic market where the same brand is $1-2 more.

Since when does middle class mean these types of vacation and entertainment expenses? Does a massive part of the US really think everyone should be able to live like this? It doesn't make any sense to me how this is anything but very luxurious despite the HCOL area differences on daycare etc. It seems pretty out of touch.

A brief foray into local-ish California beef costs - half cow, $9.49/lb for grass fed beef.
There are places in Idaho and elsewhere that will ship, but comes out to being the same price, approx.

California's not cheap.

Would anyone consider a late season road trip into New Mexico? I have a line on some great grass fed beef. It is frozen solid and will last a 48 hour road trip back to CA. PM me and I will provide the link. I've been using them personally for years and can vouch for the excellent grass fed beef, although 2 years ago they gave me a Longhorn instead of a Corriente and I'm still eating the damn thing.
That's funny.  Maybe!

Some of my best friends from long ago (were in our wedding) live in NM, and I've been dying to head back to Santa Fe to visit - when our schedules can align (they like travel, we have kids).  Also, my "aunt" and her wife just built a house outside Albuquerque.  Now I have extra people to visit!  I am hoping to get it to align sometime in the next year.  If I do, I'll let you know.  But I'll have to arrange the proper pickup time, as my aunt's wife and our good old friends are all vegetarian.

obstinate

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #79 on: October 04, 2019, 11:15:57 AM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

bacchi

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #80 on: October 04, 2019, 11:50:49 AM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

The rich have other things to do than take care of their own kids, like play tennis and have afternoon cocktails.

Linea_Norway

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #81 on: October 04, 2019, 12:18:38 PM »
Does no one find it weird that a person with such a high income (top 3%) need a car loan?
Apart from the food budget, which is 5 times as high as it needs to be, I found that car payment very weird.

RFAAOATB

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #82 on: October 04, 2019, 12:24:25 PM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

The rich have other things to do than take care of their own kids, like play tennis and have afternoon cocktails.

Is a live in nanny a better rich family move?  I mean do you want your kids going to childcare and spending too much time with middle class kids?

The_Big_H

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #83 on: October 06, 2019, 09:08:36 PM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

The rich have other things to do than take care of their own kids, like play tennis and have afternoon cocktails.

Is a live in nanny a better rich family move?  I mean do you want your kids going to childcare and spending too much time with middle class kids?

Why not, teach them how to flex on the poors early.

jinga nation

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #84 on: October 07, 2019, 07:08:50 AM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

The rich have other things to do than take care of their own kids, like play tennis and have afternoon cocktails.
Psshhh. Afternoon cocktails are for the normies.
Breakfast mimosas with fresh OJ and canapes.

ThriftyTechie

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #85 on: October 07, 2019, 11:28:43 PM »
I don't think you can call someone living in a $1.8M house "middle class" with a straight face.

If San Francisco is really that expensive, maybe it's not worth living in San Francisco no matter how great people tell you the jobs are?

San Francisco Bay Area really is that expensive. Here's a 3 bdrm selling for $1.7 million https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/3589-21st-St-94114/home/993891, it probably has termite issues too. Here's a 2 bdrm in Palo Alto priced to sell at $1.9 mil https://www.redfin.com/CA/Palo-Alto/961-Channing-Ave-94301/home/1715123
It's very difficult to buy a SFH here if you're making less than $300k and paying for childcare. Mortgage and taxes are 6 figures each. Daycare costs $25k-$30k, full-time nanny costs $60k.

obstinate

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #86 on: October 08, 2019, 07:07:20 AM »
San Francisco Bay Area really is that expensive. Here's a 3 bdrm selling for $1.7 million https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/3589-21st-St-94114/home/993891, it probably has termite issues too. Here's a 2 bdrm in Palo Alto priced to sell at $1.9 mil https://www.redfin.com/CA/Palo-Alto/961-Channing-Ave-94301/home/1715123
It's very difficult to buy a SFH here if you're making less than $300k and paying for childcare. Mortgage and taxes are 6 figures each. Daycare costs $25k-$30k, full-time nanny costs $60k.
These two houses are in two very desirable parts of the city. One is just outside the Mission. The other is in Palo Alto, which is second only to maybe Los Altos Hills and Atherton in price. Yes, SFBA is expensive, but no need to cherry-pick from the most expensive parts. :)

Goldielocks

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #87 on: November 06, 2019, 05:57:58 PM »
When I lived in the Bay area (outskirts), I had a preschooler in full day care, rented a SFH, and had a family of 4. 
Very middle class -- older car, no vacations other than camping, but we did have orthodontics, ski weekends at Tahoe, retirement savings at 12% income, etc.

In today's dollars, we earned $150k/yr.  No itemized deductions (renting).
ANYWAY...  we had a middle class lifestyle in a detached home for the equivalent of $150k/yr in salary.    Even if rental prices would now add another $500/mo to get the same home... no where near $350k is needed for middle class.

Here is the amazing part --
Although natrually frugal, and I did not have a Starbucks lifestyle, because EVERYTHING seemed more expensive in California, that $4.50/day starbucks habit some people had seemed like no big deal.  It seemed like it was $1.50 Dunk'n Donuts black coffee  in Iowa level of spending.

spartana

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #88 on: November 08, 2019, 10:39:53 AM »
If you're retired, why would you have your kids in five day a week child-care? That's about 1/5th of the budget that could be cut by 90%.

The rich have other things to do than take care of their own kids, like play tennis and have afternoon cocktails.
Psshhh. Afternoon cocktails are for the normies.
Breakfast mimosas with fresh OJ and canapes.
Hey TGIM morning mimosas at the beach in SoCal with the FIRE crowd (or slacker volleyball/surf bum crowd) is a thing. Although our OJ and canapes come from ALDI. Perhaps the Financial Samari needs to take a lesson from us "poors" and learn how to live the good life on a WHOLE LOT less.

Or yeah, and you can bring your kids too. It's like free childcare.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 10:41:59 AM by spartana »

Daisyedwards800

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #89 on: December 06, 2019, 01:29:05 PM »
Why is he using a flat 24% fed tax rate?

Kyle Schuant

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #90 on: December 06, 2019, 03:54:13 PM »
no where near $350k is needed for middle class.
97% of US households earn $305k or less, 98% $359k or less, and 99% $475k or less. It takes some mental and arithmetical gymnastics for anyone to define the top 2% as the "middle".

The 40-60% quintile is $50-$79k, by the way. Statistically that's the middle class.

https://dqydj.com/average-median-top-household-income-percentiles/#Household_Income_Percentiles_for_the_United_States_in_2019


Mr. Green

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #91 on: December 07, 2019, 03:21:47 PM »
Based on his spending habits, Financial Sumo seems like a more appropriate name for Mr. Dogan's site. I'm sure headlines like that get a lot of clicks though.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #92 on: December 07, 2019, 06:48:49 PM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."  I see myself in this category.  I'm not glittering rich and my life can appear somewhat "middle class" but I'm not.  I make/have too much money for that in my MCOL area.  I knew I was not "middle class" in 2004 when I was living on what could have been a middle class salary in NYC because I saw the projection that my career/life was going in. 

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #93 on: December 07, 2019, 08:22:16 PM »
I don't think you can call someone living in a $1.8M house "middle class" with a straight face.

If San Francisco is really that expensive, maybe it's not worth living in San Francisco no matter how great people tell you the jobs are?

Lol 1.8mill could be a modest apartment in nyc. 

Bloop Bloop

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #94 on: December 07, 2019, 08:40:20 PM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."  I see myself in this category.  I'm not glittering rich and my life can appear somewhat "middle class" but I'm not.  I make/have too much money for that in my MCOL area.  I knew I was not "middle class" in 2004 when I was living on what could have been a middle class salary in NYC because I saw the projection that my career/life was going in.

I think a lot of people prefer to see themselves as average and not above average or below average. Recognising that you are above-average then requires introspection as to whether you've earned it, whether it was given, whether it is fair, etc etc etc

I freely admit I am upper-middle class, but then I also see myself as only "average" within the people that I socialise with, which seems to me to be an easy way out. When you consider the cohort of well-educated intelligent well-read dual-income professionals, I am only average and therefore I don't have to worry about the real implications of privilege, etc.

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #95 on: December 07, 2019, 11:19:33 PM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."
Even new money can read an account of the French Revolution, and learn from it.

Dollar Slice

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #96 on: December 07, 2019, 11:51:56 PM »
I don't think you can call someone living in a $1.8M house "middle class" with a straight face.

If San Francisco is really that expensive, maybe it's not worth living in San Francisco no matter how great people tell you the jobs are?

Lol 1.8mill could be a modest apartment in nyc.

If by "modest" you mean a gorgeous 3000-square foot townhouse in Brooklyn, then yeah. Totes middle class.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #97 on: December 08, 2019, 12:34:34 AM »
It does make one wonder why do people not like to admit that they are "upper middle class."
Even new money can read an account of the French Revolution, and learn from it.

By all accounts they have.

Malcat

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #98 on: December 08, 2019, 07:49:50 AM »
I think a big part of the problem is that no one really seems to know what "rich" looks like.

People have an image of what ultra rich looks like from TV and movies, but actual "rich" really looks A LOT like middle class life, it just costs a lot.

Two people can live essentially materially identical lives:
-nice detached home
-two cars
-kids in good schools and activities
-yearly vacations
-maybe even own a cottage

And that life can range from costing mid 5 figures to several hundreds of thousands depending on location, what finishes are in the house, what kind of cars, what the public vs private school situation is, what activities the kids are into, etc, etc.

Until someone gets to the level where they have a house with maid's quarters and multiple live in domestic staff, and a private jet, then the lifestyle of the rich really isn't really any different from what everyone pictures as a normal, middle class life, at least not in the broad strokes.

A different way to put it is the "normal middle class life" can be really, really god damn expensive. Pete has written about how a low 5 figure life can be virtually identical to a high 5 figure life depending on how wasteful someone is with their spending. Well, that logic extends well into the hundreds of thousands life as well.

DH and I have a low 5 figure base spend and most of our friends spend at least a hundred to a few hundred thousand per year, and our lives really aren't so appreciably different.

Like sure, a colleague and I just both bought new homes (mine under 150K, her's 1.4M) and both kitchens were dated and had bad layouts. She dumped 45K into hers, and I spent about $500 on Ikea modular cabinets, bars to hang pots on my wall, and a plug in chandelier so I wouldn't have to hire an electrician.

Her kitchen is like something out of a magazine, mine is a franken-kitchen with half of the cabinets nearly 50 years old and original to the house and the other half from Ikea, and no, they don't match at all.

I'm a former chef who knew exactly what she wanted and mine is actually my dream kitchen now, and the mix of elements is actually so eclectic that it looks kind of cool. It's perfect for me. Her kitchen looks like something you probably shouldn't touch, and the layout the designer put together is, well, okay, but not overly efficient for actual cooking.

In the end, she spent 90 times what I did, and the real life difference between the two is that they have a different esthetic style and slightly different efficiency in layout.

Both kitchens are solidly, middle class lifestyle. Neither are overly huge or overly small. Both are customized for women who will stand over hot stoves cooking for their families (her's a several thousand dollar Bosch gas range, mine an 'apartment size' cheap thing that came with the place.)

I'll spend about $200 per month on food, she'll spend over $2000 because her two sons and friends like a lot of brand name stuff and they eat pounds of it, and her husband insists on a lot of steak nights, plus none of them will eat leftovers, so their food wastage is massive.

We both love a good restaurant meal. I just went to a local Ethiopian place and shared an amazing meal with my dad for $20 including tax and tip. She just took me out for a meal at her favourite restaurant, where a mediocre glass of wine costs more than my Ethiopian meal. The food was pretty good, both were nice experiences.

I drive a used Corolla, she drives a leased Range Rover. We both have remote car starters, but I have heated indoor parking at my building, so I don't have to clear off snow all winter.

I have a $30 Aeropress and a $100 Breville milk frother. She is known on sight by every Starbucks employee at the locations near her house, work, and gym.

I just booked a trip to Europe, which will be a self-guided road trip through small towns, off season, for $2600 for two, including breakfasts. She is taking her brood to Italy over Christmas, and the business class flights alone will be at least $16K.

I colour my own hair and maintain a low maintenance hair style, she gets her hair cut and coloured every 4 weeks for $600.

Both couples are active. I have a gym and pool in my building, public baseball diamond, tennis and basketball courts across the street, and DH bikes and runs all winter. She and her DH have $800/mo gym memberships each, she has a trainer, he also has a golf membership, and the whole family loves to ski ($$$$$).

Her household spending is enormous, but really, our lives aren't appreciably different in functional terms.

The thing is that as you go up in luxury in life, the cost rises astronomically, but the outcome changes only marginally.
A stone countertop is only so much nicer than a laminate, an expensive restaurant has food and service that can really only be so good, an extremely expensive car in morning traffic is still just a car in traffic, a several thousand dollar chandelier doesn't light much better than a $100 plug-in chandelier from Ikea, a several thousand dollar watch and a drug store watch both tell time, and the latest iPhone vs an older phone both work pretty comparably.

The incremental increases in quality and experience start getting proportionally so much more expensive that it can cost nearly 10X to live a life just superficially better than someone else's.

My colleague and I have the same job, and per hour, I actually bill more than she does. I said that our lives are pretty similar despite our wildly different spending, but that isn't strictly true. She works 6 days a week, and I work 1.
So in truth, our lives are RADICALLY different because of our spending differences, just not in the way people might think.

So yeah, it's very difficult to define "rich" because you need to be rich to afford a lot of seemingly middle class lifestyles. 

norajean

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Re: $350k = "Middle class." The endless ratcheting of expectations.
« Reply #99 on: December 08, 2019, 07:54:17 AM »
The middle class is extremely wide the US.  If you are working for a living and paying bills every month from your earnings you are very likely middle class.  If you don't have a job and can't afford basics you are probably lower class.  If you fly in private jet aircraft and spend your time at country clubs, you may be upper class.