We keep hearing about the so-called "Middle Class." What exactly is the middle class, and if they are indeed missing, where did they go?
It seems everyone has their own definition of what the middle class is or isn't.
For some, the middle class is the median household income in 2021 of $69,717 a year.
Others judge the middle class by discretionary income left after all bills are paid.
For others, it's a three-bedroom home, 2.5 kids, a two-car garage, and a white picket fence with a stack of credit card bills.
What Was the Middle-Class Like in the Past?
When I was growing up, few mothers worked outside the home.
Today, thanks to the federal government that always puts families first, if mothers choose not to work outside the home, there's no social security or Medicare when they reach retirement age.
Social Security is based on your highest 35 years of earnings. You must pay into Medicare to receive it at retirement.
If you didn't work or contribute to Medicare, you may be able to buy it.
If you don't qualify for a premium-free Part A (you had to work and pay in for at least ten years), you may be able to purchase it.
In 2023, the Medicare premium is $278 or $506 monthly, depending on how long you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes.
So, moms staying home and raising responsible children is a thing of the past. Many parents are too busy working to spend enough time with their kids.
Being a responsible parent takes work and sacrifice.
The breadwinner in the 50s and early 60s brought home enough to take care of obligations with a little left over for a late-model car and maybe a yearly vacation.
We had the basics, a black and white TV, a phone attached to the wall, a stove, a refrigerator, and a coal furnace.
It was great to finally get a phone upstairs and a color TV.
So, what's changed?
I believe the middle class is alive and well — just redefined. People may not be making more, but what they take home today buys more of what they want.
I can buy a better cell phone for less money than three years ago. I don't see any shortage of big-screen TVs at Costco or Walmart. They, too, have come down in price.
Basic computers are approaching $200 or less. The majorities of homes either have cable or dish capability.
Dishwasher, washer, and dryer; everyone has a cell phone, and the family has a big screen TV, Internet, DVD player, X-Box, microwave, movie channels, video games, or Netflix.
All these necessities have a cost attached to them.
If people lived today as they did in the 50s, they would have a lot more take-home pay but a dull life compared to those around them.
Things our parents and grandparents back in the 60s only dreamed about.
Getting The Most Bang for Your Middle-Class Buck
Looking around the city, it would seem that many people are getting a lot of bang for the buck out of their $69,717 paychecks.
That doesn't mean there aren't people out there hurting — no question there are. But are they poor because of how they live?
The middle class that budgets and lives within their means are doing much better than those who have abused credit and live the grasshopper lifestyle, taking home the same paycheck.
Some Final Thoughts on Finding the Middle-Class
It's easy to pigeonhole a group of people into one definable class. But is that accurate? I think not. It's not a question of how much you make.
It's the lifestyle you lead that defines your rung on the middle-class income ladder.
The old saying, "You can pay me now or pay me later," still rings true. There's always a bill somewhere, whether you save for it or charge it.
Anyone can spend, and anyone can save. The actual middle class, those that live like our parents used to, have the things mentioned above, but they did the same thing our parents did to realize the middle-class dream.
They budgeted and saved for the things they wanted.
We always appreciate the things we must work for more than buying something based on emotion when we don't have money.
Money is a tool like any other. It can make your life easier or harder. How you handle that tool determines how happy you'll be in the future.
Which middle class are you in? Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
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About the Creator
Author, Radio Talk Show Host, blogger, YouTuber, Vietnam Vet, half-fast guitar player, average cook, and a really nice guy. I read all my articles; you should too and subscribe. Thanks very much.