How Much Money Do You Need to Earn to Be Considered Middle Class?
The middle class, once a bastion of stability and prosperity, has seen its fortunes wane in recent decades. As more people struggle to make ends meet and find affordable housing, the idea of what it means to be “middle class” has changed.
A Pew report from last year found that in 2004, 62% of Americans identified as middle class. In a survey conducted two years later, that number dipped to 53%. With incomes stagnating and cost of living rising—not to mention the growing student loan crisis—many people struggle to make ends meet on their current incomes.
So how much money do you need to earn to be considered middle class?
Read on for more information on how much money you need to be considered middle class and what it means if you fall outside this financial bracket.
What Does It Mean to Be Middle Class?
There is no set definition for what it means to be middle class. Generally speaking, though, the middle class refers to those people who are not living in poverty, but who are also not quite rich.
People who fall into the middle class have enough money to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and are not struggling to pay their bills. The middle class is a broad designation, though, and there is no “middle class salary.” Instead, there is a wide range of salaries that can place someone in the middle class.
The middle class is often associated with a certain type of lifestyle. More educated people, for example, tend to be considered middle class. This is because higher education tends to lead to higher incomes—but also higher costs like student loans.
How Much Money Do You Need to Be Considered Middle Class?
There is no single salary that can be used to define the middle class. Instead, the range of salaries that place you in the middle class is very broad. According to a 2011 report, the middle class comprises two-thirds of the population.
As mentioned above, the middle class is a very broad designation. It is a lifestyle, not a specific income bracket. There is no specific cutoff point where you start being middle class. It is more about your overall financial situation than your salary. If you are able to pay your bills and have some money left over each month, you can consider yourself middle class.
Some research has attempted to quantify the middle class based on income. One study from the Brookings Institute found that in the early 2000s, a family of four needed to earn around $66,000 a year to be considered middle class. That amount has likely gone up since then with inflation.
How Much Money Does the Average Person Need to Be Considered Middle Class?
The average person needs a lot more than $66,000 a year. Averaging out all families combined, the average American household earns nearly $60,000 a year. That’s just above the poverty line for a family of four.
A lot of people associate the middle class with two-car garages and shopping at the local grocery store. The average middle class family, however, spends nearly $48,000 a year on necessities alone—a far cry from the standard middle class shopping trip.
How Much Money Do You Need to Earn to Be Considered Rich?
If you’re worried about moving up in the world and earning enough money to be considered rich, you’re in luck.
To be considered rich, you don’t need to earn a specific amount of money. Instead, you need to live a specific lifestyle.
The average rich person earns around $250,000 annually, but that isn’t a hard cutoff.
The average rich person also has a net worth of around $3 million. To put that in perspective, the average middle class American has a net worth of around $80,000.
You can earn $250,000 a year and still be considered rich if you manage your money well and invest it wisely.
If you’re worried that you don’t earn enough money to be considered middle class, don’t panic. There is no specific amount of money that can be used to define the middle class. Instead, it is a broad term that refers to those who can meet their basic needs and have some money left over for savings and discretionary spending.
If you are concerned about your financial future, it is important to start saving as early as possible. One easy way to do this is by setting up an automatic savings plan, such as an automatic savings plan or a 401(k) plan, to divert a portion of your paycheck towards your savings goals.
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