Originally Posted by Spring Flower
Another thought...I think salaries are so contingent on where you live. My husband and I together never made over $100,000 but I imagine if we both worked in the same fields BUT in a certain city (NYC or LA for example) I have a feeling we would earn over $100,000 but would be paying much, much more for living expenses due to the cost of living..
Salaries around here are much higher than the rest of the country. But so are property costs, food, clothing, childcare, etc.
When a family of four earning $54K a year qualifies for housing benefit, you know that the cost of living is out of wack with the rest of the country.
It is always possible to be struggling financially, regardless of money earned. Much of it comes down to past decisions - student loans, Adjustable rate mortgages, healthcare costs, etc. I have friends who are about to go bankrupt due to a balloon mortgage they took out, combined with unpaid healthcare bills and a student loan they are struggling to pay back - and they are both fully employed, with healthcare benefits, earning well over $100k.
I do think there is a huge difference between being able to provide the basics (shelter, clothing, food) and provide the "middle class" definition of the basics (two-three bedroom detached house, new clothes, cars, etc).
I think where the challenge comes from is that it takes even more money to afford what we often think of as a "middle class" lifestyle than in the past. The reasons for this are very complicated, but it is why in some parts of the country, $100,000 a year barely qualifies you for a middle class lifestyle. And in others $100,000 will get you an affluent lifestyle.
I think it does behoove those of us in the middle class to remember that much of what we see of as "required" is really not -and in most cases are luxuries which are just part of middle class expectations. It can help us sort out the crazy consumerism that has us judge our successes by the stuff we own.