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11-13-2007 01:03 PM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
Re: the whole struggling thing, it makes sense to me to read that some of the big earners consider themself struggling. I'm sure if I were to ask DH if we were struggling, if he answered w/o thinking about it he'd say yes. (He earns around 75K). He would be referring to the fact that he worries about paying for our children's education (we hope to pay for their college costs and we'd love private schools) and retirement. Even though we have insurance, we still have out of pocket costs and that worries him. Our house requires constant maintenance like all houses do. God forbid if he were to lose his job or health, we'd quickly be in a world of hurt since I can earn about 35K. So to him "struggling" wouldn't mean fighting to eat healthfully and keep a roof over our heads as much as struggling to maintain what we have. He gets a 2.5% merit raise yearly, but his insurance has just switched to HSA and certainly food and fuel costs are far outpacing the 3% inflation rate the liars in gov't say we're facing.

Now of course the "problems" I've listed are in a sense problems of affluence, but I think it's possible to feel you're struggling at most incomes, just as it's possible to feel gratitude at all income levels.
Well, I see your point. But there is a BIG difference between struggling to maintain middle class, upper middle class, or higher lifestyles and STRUGGLING in the sense of not knowing where your next meal is coming from or not having a roof over your head.

But, then, what I've just said is kind of obvious...

Still, I don't think of myself or my DH as struggling and we're solidly middle class. I know people who are struggling and their lives and economic situation is much, much different from mine.

I think you make an excellent point about the slippery grasp many of us in the middle class and upper middle class have on our economic position. Every year, with inflation usually outpacing raises and wage increases, means the middle class is eroding. It is getting harder and harder to maintain, just like you said.
11-13-2007 12:59 PM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post

I find conversations about class to be fascinating because they relate so closely to how we view ourselves. So many factors go into it - cultural ties, income, profession, and politics.


Me, too. GREAT post, by the way.
11-13-2007 12:57 PM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
definition of middle class. Good question, especially since, IMHO, "middle class" as seen on TV/movies/commercials is actually upper middle class or higher. It really skews our idea of "normal".
:

I totally agree with this, that most people think middle class in terms of upper middle class or higher.

11-13-2007 11:32 AM
newbymom05 Re: the whole struggling thing, it makes sense to me to read that some of the big earners consider themself struggling. I'm sure if I were to ask DH if we were struggling, if he answered w/o thinking about it he'd say yes. (He earns around 75K). He would be referring to the fact that he worries about paying for our children's education (we hope to pay for their college costs and we'd love private schools) and retirement. Even though we have insurance, we still have out of pocket costs and that worries him. Our house requires constant maintenance like all houses do. God forbid if he were to lose his job or health, we'd quickly be in a world of hurt since I can earn about 35K. So to him "struggling" wouldn't mean fighting to eat healthfully and keep a roof over our heads as much as struggling to maintain what we have. He gets a 2.5% merit raise yearly, but his insurance has just switched to HSA and certainly food and fuel costs are far outpacing the 3% inflation rate the liars in gov't say we're facing.

Now of course the "problems" I've listed are in a sense problems of affluence, but I think it's possible to feel you're struggling at most incomes, just as it's possible to feel gratitude at all income levels.
11-13-2007 11:20 AM
siobhang I forgot to add a HUGE factor in class. Race. Racism and classism are closely tied together and in fact classism often masks racism and vice versa.
11-13-2007 11:12 AM
siobhang definition of middle class. Good question, especially since, IMHO, "middle class" as seen on TV/movies/commercials is actually upper middle class or higher. It really skews our idea of "normal".

Class is complex b/c it is judged based on income, on profession/education (which is how some people are "middle class" even though they earn less than folks considered "working class"), and the stuff you own/spend your money on.

The role of class, in a sociological sense, is for individuals to measure themselves (and others) how they are doing vis-a-vis their peers. What class you identify with gives you a broad category of "peers" to compare yourself to.

However, our own interpretations of class are very skewed by unrealistic portrayals of "peers" on TV. There are VERY few working class families on TV and most "middle class" families are really upper middle class if you were to add up all the stuff they clearly own. Heck, even sitcoms like Friends was insanely skewed with income. The professor at the Natural history museum could afford a one bedroom apartment in manhattan??? A middle manager and an actor could afford a HUGE two bedroom apartment? It is insane.

It is commonly assumed that a middle class lifestyle these days includes:

* owning your own home/apartment
* having an office job or a job which requires a Bachelors and perhaps even a Masters or other advanced degree
* a car
* a yearly family vacation
* ability to eat out now and again
* payment for educational "extras" such as music lessons or sports teams.
* stuff in the home like broadband connectivity/computer, cable TV, cell phones, etc.
*new clothes

I know there are folks who consider themselves to be middle class who do not own those things - but it is more often a choice by the family, rather than something unattainable. It is expected that most middle class families SHOULD be able to afford those things, and if you don't, and you are middle class, it is because you consciously reject them.

I find conversations about class to be fascinating because they relate so closely to how we view ourselves. So many factors go into it - cultural ties, income, profession, and politics.

For example, I have a good friend who, honest to god, defined herself as working class. But her father was a lawyer (and is now a Judge) and owns a four bedroom house in an expensive suburb in the North East. At the time, she was pursuing a PhD, after graduating with very few loans from an Ivy League college.

I called BS on that one and finally, after years of defending this self=definition, she admitted that, okay, her grandparents were working class, but the day her dad graduated from college, that ended.
11-13-2007 03:55 AM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeca View Post
...I don't know seems to me if you have 2-3 kids then a 2-3 bedroom house...
I know that "living wage" calculators never use houses (as in the detached, typical American dream house) as a standard. It seems those calculations usually use a 2 bedroom apartment at median rent for the area.

I remember reading somewhere (wish I could cite it here) that the "average" household number of kids was like 1.7 now. To me this means that most households have 1 or 2 children.

3 and 4 plus kid households are becoming rare except maybe here on MDC.
11-13-2007 03:51 AM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeca View Post
I don't know seems to me if you have 2-3 kids then a 2-3 bedroom house(including a car if you don't live in a major metro city) counts as basic shelter not a middle class lifestyle. I mean I get what your saying but if we go by that then everything above food would be deemed for middle class. What counts as middle class nowadays anyway? anyone know?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Purity♥Lake~ View Post
Good question, Jeca.

What is middle class, outside of income?

ETA:
We live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath mobile home with a family of 4, 5 when my bonus son is here.
Interesting and thought provoking, ladies!

Not sure, but I wonder if definitions of middle class don't take into consideration family size. I know that on our income, we're solidly middle class, but we have a small family. We wouldn't have nearly the buying power if we had 3-4 or more children, obviously. But, I don't think that would change our middle class status necessarily.
11-13-2007 03:48 AM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Purity♥Lake~ View Post
Good question, Jeca.

What is middle class, outside of income?

ETA:
We live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath mobile home with a family of 4, 5 when my bonus son is here.
Oops...I see you were asking what middle class is outside of income. Hmmm...not sure how to answer that. I don't know if I've ever seen a middle class definition outside of income statistics.

11-13-2007 03:44 AM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Purity♥Lake~ View Post
Good question, Jeca.

What is middle class, outside of income?

ETA:
We live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath mobile home with a family of 4, 5 when my bonus son is here.
Good question.

Wikipedia has a good entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_middle_class

For 2005, according to the U.S. Census:

middle 33% of population: $30,000 to $62,500
middle 20% of population: $35,000 to $55,000
11-13-2007 02:18 AM
~PurityLake~ Good question, Jeca.

What is middle class, outside of income?

ETA:
We live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath mobile home with a family of 4, 5 when my bonus son is here.
11-13-2007 01:58 AM
jeca I don't know seems to me if you have 2-3 kids then a 2-3 bedroom house(including a car if you don't live in a major metro city) counts as basic shelter not a middle class lifestyle. I mean I get what your saying but if we go by that then everything above food would be deemed for middle class. What counts as middle class nowadays anyway? anyone know?
11-13-2007 01:33 AM
~PurityLake~
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post

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.

Siobhan
I thought your post here made very good points, especially the part I highlighted in bold.
11-12-2007 10:18 PM
RedWine In regards to the pps ?s regarding spouse's job and security (for those making 100K and over):

Dh is a Professor at an Ivy League university. He is on the tenure track. Next year we find out whether or not he gets tenure (meaning, has this job guaranteed, for life). If he does NOT get tenure, he will have to get another job at another university.

However, if he were to get another job (similar) elsewhere, he would most likely be paid MORE...this particular institution pays their professors significantly less than do non-Ivy League universities (so I hear). I guess the prestige of working there is supposed to compensate...(whatever). So dh makes LESS than he would elsewhere, if he were to work in a lower cost-of-living city. Right now he makes just over 100K -- the lower end of the payscale for his type of job -- in a very high cost-of-living area.

I'm really tired so I apologize if that made no sense.
11-12-2007 03:00 PM
jeca
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Purity?Lake~ View Post
Oh, I hope so.
My husband has now been one week with no job.

Savings are being tapped into to pay bills.

I know, it's just been one week, that's not really long.

But when I voted on this poll, we had an income, and now we have none.
11-12-2007 02:57 PM
siobhang
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Flower View Post
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..
Yup.

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.

Siobhan
11-12-2007 02:44 PM
MyTwoAs
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Flower View Post

I'd be curious to know what occupations have a single earner over $100k.

Also, I don't think the grass is always greener. Sure, it would be nice in some ways to have a DH earning over $100,000, but to me that comes with some inherent problems if salaries between spouses are so imbalanced...

...such as what if DH is layed off? Then what happens to the family? What if DH is disabled or worse? With a corporate culture of downsizing and outsourcing, I am thankful my husband and I have fairly equal earning power. I feel safer. Companies often look to save money, and they have a penchant for cutting middle managers, ect with inflated salaries. That is very scary to me. I'd feel very vulnerable if DH earned significantly more than the average worker and significantly more than me (while of course also enjoying the good times while they lasted). ...particularly in this economy.

Just some thoughts...anyone else concur?
My husband is a network engineer for a cable company - he's been there for five years and has had a few promotions in addition to his annual performance-based raise. He's not a manager and has purposely chosen to avoid that track for the reason you mentioned. His position is extremely technical and he's the go-to guy for many divisions of the company (across the US) so we feel a bit of security job-wise.

Prior to being a SAHM I was also in the computer field but it's been six years now and I haven't kept up with the technology. It would be difficult for me to return to the field and even if I did I'd be looking at making only about 1/3 of what he makes. DH has a 70% long-term disability policy that we are definitely thankful for.

The disparity between our two incomes (if I was working) was a big concern for me so I've returned to college. I attended straight out of high school but never finished my degree. Now I am pursuing a field that not only interests me but the starting salary would be about 60% of DH's current salary. Not exactly what he makes but a lot better position than we'd be in if I had to return to work now to support the family.
11-12-2007 02:33 PM
ann_of_loxley I voted 30-39k...but in reality its more than that. Simply because the pound converted to the dollar just comes out to more! lol -But we live here in the UK - so for us, its still just like you living in the USA making only 30-39k (if that makes sense!)
Basically - though the pound converted to the dollar is more in America, its not more here -its really the same. If you are making $5 an hour in the USA - you are making £5 here. Standards of living are the same, so just ignore the converting! hehe
11-12-2007 02:20 PM
Pynki Well, I voted 3i0-39 k, but some years we've made as little as 18k since DH works for himself. Our bills generally mean we need 2000/month to cover everything.

We live comfortably, but not over the top. We have 3 cars, but two of them are in really bad shape, and DH killed the transmission in the oldest one last week. We have a minivan since there are 6 of us total.

We go camping for vacation in the summer, and every 2-3 yrs we go to Nebraska to visit my parents for a big trip.

I can't imagine how much easier our lives would be though if we made 100k. That is anywhere from 2-5x's what we've been known to make in a year!
11-11-2007 08:14 PM
~PurityLake~ Oh, I hope so.
My husband has now been one week with no job.

Savings are being tapped into to pay bills.

I know, it's just been one week, that's not really long.

But when I voted on this poll, we had an income, and now we have none.
11-11-2007 08:11 PM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Purity♥Lake~ View Post
....

Spring Flower...

Or some, like me, were previously married with no children, had to pay down their ex-spouses debt, then were finally, 10 years later, the same educationally and financially as they were at 20, then remarried and had kids, later in life, with no college education.



Starting over can be very hard, but it is often so much better (not easy, just better) than sitting in all the muck of a bad marriage.

Everything will work out. And you've got your new family and children as a blessing.

11-11-2007 08:07 PM
~PurityLake~ ....

Spring Flower...

Or some, like me, were previously married with no children, had to pay down their ex-spouses debt, then were finally, 10 years later, the same educationally and financially as they were at 20, then remarried and had kids, later in life, with no college education.

11-11-2007 07:10 PM
That Is Nice Another thing that might be worth considering with this poll and thread, is some mothers (and their DHs) might be older, having put off having kids to advance their careers or pay down debt or build up savings, while others might have had kids younger in life, and still be climbing up the career and salary ladder.

I didn't make at 22 what I could earn now. So, for 22 year olds to compare themselves to 30 and 40 somethings is a little unrealistic.
11-11-2007 07:07 PM
frontierpsych Less than $20,000 -- gotta love the Army.

Excellent benefits though. And our house is paid for (about 1700/month)

And last year DH got a $22,500 bonus, which is more than we make in a year.

We live in a very high COL area (Hawaii)

If you factor everything in we're just fine. Our only bills are cell phones, car insurance, and phone/internet. We're definitely on a budget, but we're not hurting for anything.
11-11-2007 07:01 PM
That Is Nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaKat View Post
According to wikipedia, US household income broke down this way in 2006:

$0 to $25,000 -- 28.22%
$25,000 to $50,000 --- 26.65%
$50,000 to $75,000 -- 18.27%
$75,000 to $100,000 -- 10.93%
$100,000 to $150,000 -- 9.89%
$150,000 and up -- 5.84%

So, it's not surprising to see so many 100K+ incomes here. 15% of the population is a significant group.

For what it's worth, at various times in my adult life I've lived on under 20K/year and I've lived on 145K/year. And pretty much everywhere in between -- all, incidentally, in one of the "very high COL cities" mentioned in this thread.

Neither end of the spectrum made me any more or less happy!

I did different things when I had less money (like taking the bus... or walking if I didn't have bus fare) than I did when I had more (like shopping at Whole Foods without even looking at price tags, or travelling internationally). But even though the *details* of my life changed with my income, the *themes* of my life did not.

The important things in my life have been people and experiences, not things. I can have as much fun over a bowl of ramen and a glass of tap water as I can in a four star restaurant, if I'm with the people I love.
Wonderful post. I completely agree and like how your phrased details and themes of life, in relation to money. That is a great way to explain it.

:

But, if 15% earn more than 100k, that leaves 85% under 100k. So, most people don't earn that much money. I only know a few people, including two income families, that earn over $100k. One is a doctor and the others are other highly educated, highly paid professionals.
11-11-2007 04:11 PM
chinaKat According to wikipedia, US household income broke down this way in 2006:

$0 to $25,000 -- 28.22%
$25,000 to $50,000 --- 26.65%
$50,000 to $75,000 -- 18.27%
$75,000 to $100,000 -- 10.93%
$100,000 to $150,000 -- 9.89%
$150,000 and up -- 5.84%

So, it's not surprising to see so many 100K+ incomes here. 15% of the population is a significant group.

For what it's worth, at various times in my adult life I've lived on under 20K/year and I've lived on 145K/year. And pretty much everywhere in between -- all, incidentally, in one of the "very high COL cities" mentioned in this thread.

Neither end of the spectrum made me any more or less happy!

I did different things when I had less money (like taking the bus... or walking if I didn't have bus fare) than I did when I had more (like shopping at Whole Foods without even looking at price tags, or travelling internationally). But even though the *details* of my life changed with my income, the *themes* of my life did not.

The important things in my life have been people and experiences, not things. I can have as much fun over a bowl of ramen and a glass of tap water as I can in a four star restaurant, if I'm with the people I love.
11-10-2007 02:29 PM
JustVanessa We make 56,000 a year between my p's salary and my disability insurance (which will last until I have the babe, our income will go down as I go onto govt mat leave and then nothing as I will continue to sahm.) We are very comfortable. Our house will be paid off in January which will help alot too. We do not have an extravagant lifestyle. P drives a $500 truck, I have a 4 year old car which is on payments. We have some personal debt, but not too much....around $20K, which will go down dramatically after house is paid off.
Its all relative though. We live in a rural community. If we lives somewhere live Vancouver, we would be scraping by and not be able to afford a house.
11-10-2007 10:29 AM
Nature
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
Wanna be my friend??


Hey get in line! No cutting!

11-10-2007 02:56 AM
aricha
Quote:
Originally Posted by vermonttaylors View Post
We are solidly in the 100K category and I would describe us as affluent
<snip>
We also do try to spread it around as much as possible...
..and we help out friends as needed and try to treat people to little luxuries they might not otherwise be able to afford (dinner out, concert tickets, gift certificates etc.)
Wanna be my friend??
11-09-2007 11:39 PM
TekknixMom
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post
This is sooooo true. In your earlier post, you mentioned not knowing any SAHMs who had a house worth more than $500,000 -- where I live, our little 2-bedroom condo is worth more than $500,000, so virtually *everyone* I know who lives in even the smallest of detached homes has a house worth $600,000 or more. It's verrrrrry relative.
Agreed! I mean, we're living on approx. 36k a year. Yes, we rent an apartment and don't have a house but that's actually because of credit issues (long story with one of his old job trying to make him pay for things THEY were responsible for) and not because we can't afford it. Right now we're having some troubles, but only because DHs work found a way to get out of having to give him his commission check ($1,300) last month which is why he's looking for a new job. We eat well, go out to eat when we get the notion (we could afford to go out a lot, we just don't choose to). We basically can afford whatever we really want and need. Could we afford a brand new Mercedes Benz? Perhaps (with low payments), but probably not. But those are things we don't *want* anyways! We do well with what we have. But I know in LOTS of places if a family of 3 made $36k a year they'd be living in a really bad neighborhood and eating ramen noodles. And they'd be living in a tiny apartment, whereas ours is about 1200sq.ft (2 bedroom) which isn't that bad at all!
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