Author Topic: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!  (Read 14634 times)

randymarsh

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It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« on: December 07, 2013, 03:01:06 PM »
http://www.oftwominds.com/blogdec13/middle-class12-13.html

I started reading the article and had high hopes. It started out OK, but quickly turned into a cluster fuck of complainypants comments based on ridiculous assumptions.

One assumption: Middle class families will pay 10K a year in property taxes. He mentions that they're lower in much of the country, but sticks with a number you're more likely to encounter in NY and CA.

Key take away:

Quote
Note that this $111,000 household income has no budget for lavish vacations, boats, weekends spent skiing, etc., nor does it budget for luxury vehicles, SUVs, large pickup trucks, etc. There is no budget for private schooling. Most of the family income goes to the mortgage, taxes and healthcare. Savings are modest, along with living expenses and retirement contributions. This is a barebones budget.

If the budget doesn't include any money for SUVs or pickup trucks, then why do I see families who earn a third of the suggested income driving those vehicles? Obviously they aren't saving for retirement or any cash. That doesn't mean they aren't middle class. It means they're shitty with money.

And when did private schooling become something the middle class is supposed to be able to afford?!? Hasn't private school always been associated with upper class families?
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 03:03:01 PM by thefinancialstudent »

Lans Holman

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2013, 03:52:08 PM »
I did like the list of middle class attributes, I thought they did a nice job defining what it means to be middle class independently from actual dollar figures.  But it went downhill quick when he started getting into those figures.  My guess is he wants you to think things are worse than they are so you'll buy his book where he explains how to fix it.

Bruised_Pepper

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 03:52:55 PM »
Why the hell does he assume that the "average" middle class person is self-employed?

If it's becoming too expensive to be a part of the middle class (even if many of his assumptions weren't way too high for the sake of creating a shocking article), shouldn't we be redefining what it means to be a part of the middle class?  While middle class might mean two cars, a large suburban house, etc. to the Baby Boomers, maybe the newer generations need to see it as a reasonable house (or just get over the fact that there's nothing wrong with renting) and only one car.  I think both of these things would create positive social change instead of depriving middle-of-the-road income earners.

And, of course:

Quote
Note that this $111,000 household income has no budget for lavish vacations, boats, weekends spent skiing, etc., nor does it budget for luxury vehicles, SUVs, large pickup trucks, etc. There is no budget for private schooling. Most of the family income goes to the mortgage, taxes and healthcare. Savings are modest, along with living expenses and retirement contributions. This is a barebones budget.

If the budget doesn't include any money for SUVs or pickup trucks, then why do I see families who earn a third of the suggested income driving those vehicles? Obviously they aren't saving for retirement or any cash. That doesn't mean they aren't middle class. It means they're shitty with money.

This.

And when did private schooling become something the middle class is supposed to be able to afford?!? Hasn't private school always been associated with upper class families?

And this.  (By the way, it became middle class when everyone's children became special, even the stupid ones.)

the fixer

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 05:39:50 PM »
I think the cost estimate of car ownership from AAA has been posted to the wall of shame before. It's ludicrous to think that a basic, reliable car costs that much per year.

kyleaaa

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 01:54:56 PM »
I think the cost estimate of car ownership from AAA has been posted to the wall of shame before. It's ludicrous to think that a basic, reliable car costs that much per year.

If they're including annual depreciation on a new car the numbers might be reasonable but definitely not on a cash basis.

Fireman

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 02:35:32 PM »
The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!  And if you buy my book, it will protect you when you hold it over your head.

http://courseweb.lis.illinois.edu/~pmorey/LIS590LRFinalProject/BookOverHead.jpg

Even she thinks the article is malarky.

It started out OK, but quickly turned into a cluster fuck of complainypants comments based on ridiculous assumptions.

And this.

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 02:37:52 PM »
If they're including annual depreciation on a new car the numbers might be reasonable but definitely not on a cash basis.

Depends on whether the number includes gas.  If not, I could just about manage that amount per decade.  Easily for the truck (2nd vehicle): $1600 net cost + ($50 regstration + $200 insurance + $100 maint) * 10 = $5200/decade.

Mortgage is another bloated number for most of us.  I have a largish place (land, not house) in a moderately high-cost area, yet my payment including taxes & insurance is still under $1100/month - about 1/3 of what he thinks is 'middle class'.

Also, I'm single, and have over the years enjoyed many things that could be considered 'luxuries', like a private plane, horses, taking years off to live/work in Europe, and/or on challenging but not immediately remunerative projects.

I suspect the real problem here is not the actual cost of a comfortable lifestule, but over-buying, as for instance buying the $35K/yr McMansion instead of a more reasonable abode.

Bruised_Pepper

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 06:42:07 PM »
I'll also just point out, that even in the last few decades, significantly more line-item expenses have shown up on middle-class budgets due to changing times.  Internet and cell phone service is now practically mandatory, adding two sizable bills on top of those from long ago.  Going off of where I left off in my last comment, my generation might be forced to decide between having two cars per household or one car, smartphones, Internet, and a metro pass.

Plus, I'd wager my mustache that much less DIY stuff happens nowadays than in whatever base year he was comparing to (1970ish?)  Por ejemplo, not too long ago, every young girl was expected to know how to sew; thus, as they grew up, they could make their own clothes, linens, drapes, etc.  Now, not many ladies my age know how (or just don't do so), so every time something sewn wears out, it's a trip to the store, and not an afternoon of patchwork.

MrsPete

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 08:51:50 PM »
Overall, I can't relate to much here.  It might be because I live in a low-cost-of-living area. 

One assumption: Middle class families will pay 10K a year in property taxes. He mentions that they're lower in much of the country, but sticks with a number you're more likely to encounter in NY and CA.
Yeah, I pay only about 2K a year in property taxes . . . and I own a house in a high-tax county and a large piece of property in a low-tax county. 

And when did private schooling become something the middle class is supposed to be able to afford?!? Hasn't private school always been associated with upper class families?
Not necessarily, quite a few private schools -- especially Christian schools -- are not all that expensive for an upper-middle class family.  They're in line with the cost of day care, so for families who've been paying day care, it's not a big jump.  I know quite a few families who've used private schools for a number of reasons, though very few who kept their kids in private schools for their entire school career.

I suspect the real problem here is not the actual cost of a comfortable lifestule, but over-buying, as for instance buying the $35K/yr McMansion instead of a more reasonable abode.
I agree -- or, I agree that it's one of the problems facing the "middle class".  All too many people "over buy" in other areas too, cars and restaurant meals probably being next in line after cars. 

I know that the majority of my similar-salary friends live in houses MUCH more expensive than mine, and I think people tend to that we're poorer than we actually are (which doesn't bother me at all).  They also tend to drive cars more expensive than mine, etc. . . . but I'm not the one scraping around in the bottom of my car for change on the day before payday.   

Plus, I'd wager my mustache that much less DIY stuff happens nowadays than in whatever base year he was comparing to (1970ish?)  Por ejemplo, not too long ago, every young girl was expected to know how to sew; thus, as they grew up, they could make their own clothes, linens, drapes, etc.  Now, not many ladies my age know how (or just don't do so), so every time something sewn wears out, it's a trip to the store, and not an afternoon of patchwork.
In general, I agree that people tend to "hire out" more work today -- home repairs, yard work, whatever.  But I disagree about sewing in particular.  My mother made most of my clothes, especially my dresses, and I remember having particularly nice dresses as a small child (before I had so many siblings).  I think she enjoyed it, but mostly it was a money-saver.  I learned to sew and assumed that I would make my children's clothes as well . . . but by the time I had children, the industry had changed, and sewing a garment from scratch had become more expensive than buying an item on sale, and sewing was monumentally more expensive than buying a gently-used item.  For a while in college I worked in the fabric department of a large department store (back when department stores all sold patterns and fabric), and numerous times I'd think to myself, "That's such a cute pattern (or such a pretty piece of fabric).  I should sew it up for myself", but by the time I gathered up the pattern, the fabric and the notions, I'd realize it was just too expensive.  Admittedly, if I'd sewed frequently like my mom did, I would've had 1/2 a spool of pink thread or 1/2 a pack of buttons left over from a previous project. 

What IS a good value in terms of sewing is making your own curtains.  Quality curtains are very expensive these days, and -- unlike clothing -- no used market exists, which is natural, given the multitude of window sizes.  And what IS a good value is the ability to mend small problems with clothing.   

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2013, 10:06:41 PM »
Internet and cell phone service is now practically mandatory, adding two sizable bills on top of those from long ago.
 

Sizeable?  $30 for internet, $7 for cell that replaces a $30+ land line.  Plus CFLs, LEDs, and more energy-efficient appliances have cut at least $20-30 from my monthly power bill.

Quote
Going off of where I left off in my last comment, my generation might be forced to decide between having two cars per household or one car, smartphones, Internet, and a metro pass.

But the used cars I buy require far less in the way of maintenance & repair than their '70s equivalents.  7-10K mile oil change intervals, 100K on spark plugs, no carbs or points...  Plus if you choose carefully, you will be getting at least twice the mpg.

Quote
Plus, I'd wager my mustache that much less DIY stuff happens nowadays than in whatever base year he was comparing to (1970ish?)...

Whose fault is that?  Nothing is stopping people from DIY, it's their choice on how to spend money, just like eating out instead of cooking.

And FWIW, I can sew at least simple tears & patches, and I'm a guy :-)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 06:29:15 AM by Sparafusile »

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 10:33:36 PM »
 I stopped reading when they refered to the interest paid on a mortgage, as a deductible.

I'm in Canada, where cars, gas, communications and food are more expensive, and we are solidly middle class on a take-home income of $40,000/year. And that also includes a lot of savings.

Bruised_Pepper

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 11:42:59 PM »
Internet and cell phone service is now practically mandatory, adding two sizable bills on top of those from long ago.
 

Sizeable?  $30 for internet, $7 for cell that replaces a $30+ land line.  Plus CFLs, LEDs, and more energy-efficient appliances have cut at least $20-30 from my monthly power bill.

Quote
Going off of where I left off in my last comment, my generation might be forced to decide between having two cars per household or one car, smartphones, Internet, and a metro pass.

But the used cars I buy require far less in the way of maintenance & repair than their '70s equivalents.  7-10K mile oil change intervals, 100K on spark plugs, no carbs or points...  Plus if you choose carefully, you will be getting at least twice the mpg.

Quote
Plus, I'd wager my mustache that much less DIY stuff happens nowadays than in whatever base year he was comparing to (1970ish?)...

Whose fault is that?  Nothing is stopping people from DIY, it's their choice on how to spend money, just like eating out instead of cooking.

And FWIW, I can sew at least simple tears & patches, and I'm a guy :-)

RE: all the above: if you didn't notice, we're in the minority as far as spending habits go.  To a non-mustachian, Internet can be way over $30 ("gotta get fast Internet for all my e-mail checking") and cell phones come in unlimited plan contracts costing upwards of $100 a month.

Long story short, living by the article's definition of middle class is attainable at the median income level, just don't expect 90% of people in that income range to realize that.  What exactly that means for the definition of "middle class", I can't quite say.

P.S.: regarding hiring out work and not doing simple DIY jobs...don't you all think that "I'm just too busy" has become a disgustingly popular catch-all excuse?  Especially considering that this is said by people who spend hours a day goofing off on the Internet? 
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 11:45:11 PM by Bruised_Pepper »

randymarsh

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2013, 07:13:17 AM »
I wonder how much the "2 income trap" has contributed to the feeling that it takes more money to be middle class now. I suspect a lot. I've been meaning to read that book.

Not only do you need 2 cars, but both are being driven constantly.

Daycare.

Inefficiencies at home - less cooking, more eating out.

Additional work expenses like clothes, certifications, etc.

Another person who "deserves" Stuff. I might be way off base, but it seems like the "I work hard, I deserve XX." comes mostly from those who work outside the home. Not saying stay at home parents don't work hard of course!

randymarsh

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2013, 07:14:31 AM »
P.S.: regarding hiring out work and not doing simple DIY jobs...don't you all think that "I'm just too busy" has become a disgustingly popular catch-all excuse?  Especially considering that this is said by people who spend hours a day goofing off on the Internet?

Ironically, the Internet is the best DIY resource that has ever existed. But it's much easier to look at cat pictures. They're adorable!

kms

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2013, 07:20:33 AM »
Ironically, the Internet is the best DIY resource that has ever existed. But it's much easier to look at cat pictures. They're adorable!
So true....

That article is actually pretty interesting. Putting aside the fact that the numbers are hocus and made up it's fascinating to see what the average middle class family spends its money on in the US and how that is different from European middle class.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 07:23:24 AM by killermilchschnitte »

Self-employed-swami

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 07:23:08 AM »
Ironically, the Internet is the best DIY resource that has ever existed. But it's much easier to look at cat pictures. They're adorable!
So true....

I don't know what you guys are talking about, I've never seen a single cat picture on the internets ever!
;)

kms

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 07:39:12 AM »

Fireman

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 07:45:38 AM »

MrsPete

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 08:14:09 AM »
RE: all the above: if you didn't notice, we're in the minority as far as spending habits go.  To a non-mustachian, Internet can be way over $30 ("gotta get fast Internet for all my e-mail checking") and cell phones come in unlimited plan contracts costing upwards of $100 a month.
True, but even for a person who's spending is rather moderate for today's society, the figures in this article seems rather high.  The taxes, as someone else pointed out, are representative only of the most expensive areas of the country -- and that's not something that we can negotiate or skimp upon, at least not without going to the effort and expense of moving. 

ArcticaMT6

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 10:25:26 AM »

Mortgage is another bloated number for most of us.  I have a largish place (land, not house) in a moderately high-cost area, yet my payment including taxes & insurance is still under $1100/month - about 1/3 of what he thinks is 'middle class'.

I suspect the real problem here is not the actual cost of a comfortable lifestule, but over-buying, as for instance buying the $35K/yr McMansion instead of a more reasonable abode.

Depends. Most of the areas with high salaries also have high property costs associated with it. Right now, your $1100/month mortgage payment is about equal to getting a $175k mortgage. Go ahead and try to find a house that's only $175k in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, LA, Washington DC, NYC.

That "$35k/yr McMansion" you are thinking of here would be more along the lines of a $50k/year+ McMansion.

MMM himself had a $400k house. His is paid off now, of course, but the point still remains.

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2013, 11:37:23 AM »
RE: all the above: if you didn't notice, we're in the minority as far as spending habits go.  To a non-mustachian, Internet can be way over $30 ("gotta get fast Internet for all my e-mail checking") and cell phones come in unlimited plan contracts costing upwards of $100 a month.

Long story short, living by the article's definition of middle class is attainable at the median income level, just don't expect 90% of people in that income range to realize that.  What exactly that means for the definition of "middle class", I can't quite say.

Sure, that was my point: I (and likely most of us) can enjoy all the advantages of a middle class (or above, in some respects) lifestyle while spending far less than is supposedly required.  Which means that those who can't manage the lifestyle despite spending far more must be pissing away a large part of their incomes.  That may be sad, but it is not a flaw in the economic system.

Really, it's not much different from a guy who makes big bucks, but loses it to the casino every weekemd.

Most of the areas with high salaries also have high property costs associated with it. Right now, your $1100/month mortgage payment is about equal to getting a $175k mortgage. Go ahead and try to find a house that's only $175k in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, LA, Washington DC, NYC.

Sure, but only a relatively small fraction of the population (and an even smaller share of 'middle class') lives in such high-cost areas.  Likewise, only a small fraction bought a house this year.  The rest of us bought some years ago, when prices were  lower.  So that all has to be factored in to get a median case, rather than a worst case.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2013, 12:58:33 PM »
The author of the article is citing high COLA in his article. Hence why it's relevant in this discussion to talk about them. In much of the country, you can buy a great house for $150k. Where I live, $150k might get you an apartment. Most of the lower COLA don't have the higher paying jobs as well. Sometimes it works out better to be in a low COLA, sometime's its better to be in a higher COLA. Depends on the situation.


My point was, a mortgage for $2500-3000 doesn't necessarily mean you're living lavishly in a McMansion.

Angelfishtitan

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2013, 02:13:21 PM »
The author of the article is citing high COLA in his article. Hence why it's relevant in this discussion to talk about them. In much of the country, you can buy a great house for $150k. Where I live, $150k might get you an apartment. Most of the lower COLA don't have the higher paying jobs as well. Sometimes it works out better to be in a low COLA, sometime's its better to be in a higher COLA. Depends on the situation.

My point was, a mortgage for $2500-3000 doesn't necessarily mean you're living lavishly in a McMansion.

Right, but for most people if your mortgage payment is 1/3 of your salary, which the article is implying, regardless of where you live you are probably doing something wrong.

Most of the numbers are ridiculous , especially when some are easily calculated or researched and he didn't even bother. At the end he even states you would be in the 25% tax bracket, which you wouldn't be after deductions. Taking the worst case of everything (you are self-employed but can't figure out how to count anything against the business?) just ruins reading an article regardless of the stance, bias is no good on either side.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2013, 02:36:05 PM »
Right, but for most people if your mortgage payment is 1/3 of your salary, which the article is implying, regardless of where you live you are probably doing something wrong.

Perhaps.

Let's say you're making $30k/yr (after taxes) and spend $5k/yr on housing, $15k/yr on other living expenses (food, utilities, clothes, $10/mo to the neighbor to leech off his wifi, etc.). That $5k/yr represents 1/6 of your income. You're doing great, woohoo! And you get to save a $10k/yr. I'll let you calculate how long it'd take to be FI.

Now let's say you're making $500k/yr (after taxes) and spend $250k/yr on housing, $50k/yr on other living expenses (organic food, higher utilities, fancier clothing, $60/mo for your own ADSL connection, etc). That $250k/yr represents 1/2 of your income, BOOOOOO!. You're saving $200k/yr. Now, calculate how long it'll take to reach FI.

Even better, let's say you chose option #2 (make a buttload of money, spend a buttload of money, save a buttload of money). How long would it take to be able to reach FI if you move to a lower COL area? Two, maybe three years?

Sometimes it makes sense to move to a higher COL area, and even to spend enormous amounts of money on housing. The key is to go in with both eyes open and keep them open. If you're making $500k/yr and end up spending $500k/yr, you're worse off than the guy making $30k/yr and spending $20k/yr.

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2013, 03:56:17 PM »
The author of the article is citing high COLA in his article. Hence why it's relevant in this discussion to talk about them. In much of the country, you can buy a great house for $150k. Where I live, $150k might get you an apartment.

But he is using high COLA numbers, and then extending those numbers to the whole country, which turns his argument into pure BS.  Sure, it's expensive to live in 'middle class' housing in some areas: in the Bay Area, my place would go for at least multiple millions (and the purchaser would almost certainly 'scrape' the house to build something pretentious); in Manhattan, you'd have to be a billionaire.  There's a reason young people moving to the Big Apple in search of fame & fortune live 3 or 4 to a studio apartment.

LalsConstant

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2013, 08:34:30 AM »
I am amused that I fail many of the middle class criteria at the beginning of the article.   Does this make me the elite of the peasantry since I still pass some of them?

Angelfishtitan

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2013, 10:29:15 AM »
Perhaps.

Let's say you're making $30k/yr (after taxes) and spend $5k/yr on housing, $15k/yr on other living expenses (food, utilities, clothes, $10/mo to the neighbor to leech off his wifi, etc.). That $5k/yr represents 1/6 of your income. You're doing great, woohoo! And you get to save a $10k/yr. I'll let you calculate how long it'd take to be FI.

Now let's say you're making $500k/yr (after taxes) and spend $250k/yr on housing, $50k/yr on other living expenses (organic food, higher utilities, fancier clothing, $60/mo for your own ADSL connection, etc). That $250k/yr represents 1/2 of your income, BOOOOOO!. You're saving $200k/yr. Now, calculate how long it'll take to reach FI.

Even better, let's say you chose option #2 (make a buttload of money, spend a buttload of money, save a buttload of money). How long would it take to be able to reach FI if you move to a lower COL area? Two, maybe three years?

Sometimes it makes sense to move to a higher COL area, and even to spend enormous amounts of money on housing. The key is to go in with both eyes open and keep them open. If you're making $500k/yr and end up spending $500k/yr, you're worse off than the guy making $30k/yr and spending $20k/yr.

Ignoring the fact that I said "most people", situation #1 can happen without much choice, where is #2 without a full decision to spend that much? The median household income in Manhattan is still under $70K, implies there must be somewhere to live that isn't rediculously pricey. Real estate in many cities is so expensive because a bunch of "high middle class" (*cough* rich *cough*) caused it to be by bidding it up. They gave power to real estate owners by deciding one small area is so much better to live, that is hardly doing something right in my book.

In addition I doubt it is often I would find a family that spends 50% of income on housing but only 10% on everything else.

abhe8

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2013, 01:28:13 PM »
choices, people. we ALL have them. don't tell me you don't. that is just complainy pants. suck ti up and say it outloud, "i will not spend my money on xyz because i choose to spend it on abc." end of story. i think anyone who reads here knows you can live a very solidly "middle class" lifestyle for a fraction of teh 110k the article author puts out. but the problem is, people today do not what to take responsibility for their choices.

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2013, 02:07:43 PM »
i think anyone who reads here knows you can live a very solidly "middle class" lifestyle for a fraction of teh 110k the article author puts out...

That depends.  There's a good bit of circularity in the definition of what constitutes a middle class lifestyle (particularly by this author's definition), so if you don't have certain things, you by definition aren't being middle class.  So even though I live comfortably and can afford pretty much anything within reason, I'm not living a 'middle class' life because I don't e.g. have a big screen TV with cable, don't make payments on a newish SUV, don't take conventional vacations to resorts, etc.  The fact that the reason I don't have these things is simply because I don't want them just doesn't enter into the equation at all.

Charlotte

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2013, 05:02:24 AM »
I'm confused James -- is the definition of middle class how much "stuff" you have? I always thought it was more about income, or wealth, or a combination of both.

My husband and I are middle class. We have a, HD tv and cable, but we vacation once a year at friend's houses for the cost of gas and a few meals. We have a car payment, but own our other vehicles outright. We don't spend a lot, have no tablets (but we do have smartphones), eat out 3-4 times per month, and we rarely shop. Neither of us buys new clothes unless something wears out (except for the occasional awesome t-shirt!)

We actually make the least of all of our peers (consider us turkeys trying to soar with the eagles!) I think we are solid middle class at this point, but I don't think it has to do with the stuff we have. I think it's more about income.

Meh. Maybe I just wish I could buy an ipad at the drop of a hat....

Fireman

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2013, 07:55:08 AM »
Middle class shouldn't be about how much stuff you have, the kind of car you drive, or the place you call home.  It's not the private school you send your children to or the Country Club membership.  The happiness and status derived from these types of 'assets' is relative to each person and what makes me happy wouldn't be the same for someone else.  If those are the things you want, no one is stopping you.  Your self perceived status doesn't necessarily make you a better (or worse) person. 

Personally, I don't care what 'class' I fall into so long as the following conditions are true*:

My basic needs (shelter, food, clothing) are met and I feel safe
I am satisfied by my career and don't live by the paycheck
I have companionship and friends who share my interests
In addition to the the things I need, I have some things I want
I contribute positively to society

* Think Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

If i've learned something from this community it's this: 

be happy in who you are and what you do, love your family and friends, impress yourself, and don't worry about everyone else.

Jamesqf

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2013, 11:37:00 AM »
I'm confused James -- is the definition of middle class how much "stuff" you have? I always thought it was more about income, or wealth, or a combination of both.

There are all sorts of definitions of class.  I'm just using the definition that the author of the article seems to be using.  Sure, it's contradictory: by most outward signs, I would appear to be poor - e.g. I mostly wear jeans & sweats, drive a 13 year old car (which happens to be the only one I've found which gets over 70 mpg and has room for my dogs), and so on.  But by income & assets I'd be at least upper middle, and by the Vimes' boots standard http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/index.php/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Economic_Injustice I might almost qualify as old money :-)

Quote
[Vimes] learned something new: the very very rich could afford to be poor. Sybil Rankin lived in the kind of poverty that was only available to the very rich, a poverty approached form the other side. Women who were merely well-off saved up and bought dresses made of silk edged with lace and pearls, but Lady Ramkin was so rich she could afford to stomp around the place in rubber boots and a tweed skirt that had belonged to her mother.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 11:46:11 AM by Jamesqf »

Charlotte

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Re: It Takes $106,000 to be Middle Class. Proof Included!
« Reply #32 on: December 16, 2013, 01:44:53 PM »
Thanks! I find class definitions to be quite ... fluid.

And I guess I am middle class because I can buy an ipad, I just choose not to. (and I forbade my husband from buying me one, too -- he so would have!)