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How Middle-Class Are You?

This is a guest post from Crystal of Budgeting in the Fun Stuff: A Personal Financial Blog about the Next Financial Step. It’s an open fiscal diary and a personal finance blog rolled into one that is looking to get as many people involved as possible.

This article at Yahoo Finance, How to Gauge Your Middle-Class Status, made my inner-financial competitor salivate. It’s chocked full of ways to compare yourself to others. I know that is a bad thing, but I want to spread the naughty.

According to the article, the typical two-parent, two-kid household:

  • Makes $51,000 to $123,000 with both parents working a total of 3747 hours per year.
  • Owns a home worth $231,000 that is about 2300 square feet.
  • Spends about $5100 a year on health insurance and non-covered expenses if their employer provides their insurance.
  • Spends $12,400 a year on two medium-sized sedans that were bought for $45,000.
  • Puts $4100 aside for college expenses for two kids (it seems to mean total…that’s a little low if you really want to help, right?)
  • Spends $3000 on an annual one-week vacation.
  • Doesn’t save at least 3.2% a year for retirement.
  • Spends about $14,200 a year on clothes, food, entertainment, and living expenses.
  • Has a typical head of household that has about 2 years of college under his/her belt.
  • Wants free time more than they want healthy kids, a strong marriage, or to be wealthy.
  • Has a net worth of about $84,000.
  • Spends about 18% a month towards debt.

Okay, so my husband and I seem to be doing very well comparably, but we don’t have two kids to contend with either. Here’s how we fall; we:

  • Make $78,000 with both of us working about 4000 hours total.
  • Own a home worth $130,000 that is about 1750 square feet.
  • Spend about $1500 a year on health insurance and non-covered expenses – my company provides insurance and hubby pays $75 a paycheck.
  • Spend $7000 a year (including his car payments) on two medium-sized sedans that were bought for $12,000 and $21,000.
  • Put $0 aside for college expenses (I know, unfair comparison, we suck)
  • Spend $1500 on an annual one-week vacation.
  • Save at least 15% a year for retirement.
  • Spend about $12,000 a year on clothes, food, entertainment, and living expenses.
  • Have two college graduates and one person in graduate school.
  • Want health and a strong marriage way more than free time or to be wealthy…although I want it all.
  • Have a net worth of about $125,000.
  • Spend about 19% a month towards debt (since we overpay our mortgage).

What do you think of the typical amounts?

Check out these other posts from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff:

The BFS Way To Diagnose Your Financial Health
Want a Raise? Got These Traits?
Determining Our “Allowances”

14 thoughts on “How Middle-Class Are You?”

  1. Wow–I’m officially stunned.

    Two things that shock me the most:
    1) I am very certainly not a part of the middle class (sniff, I’ll get over it).
    2) I can’t believe how much people spend–say on cars per year etc.

    Excellent post.

  2. I agree–this is great! What’s interesting is that EVERYONE thinks him/herself middle-class–even people who make 5 times your cited amounts or more. I was teaching a Sunday School class a while back and the children of a cardiologist and a big-name personal injury lawyer declared “We’re right in the middle.”

    Anyway, for us more on health stuff (even as state employees–a lot is dental); less on cars (paid off–newer one is 8 y.o.; older is 12); spend zip on debt; saved A LOT more for education (but kids chose lower-cost options); save A LOT more for retirement (which disappeared in 2008); spend A LOT more on vacations, etc. It was a good exercise. I feel my spending is pretty well aligned with my values–except for enriching the dentists.

  3. Very interesting statistics! I always think of ourselves as middle class even though the household income is just above $200k. We have a much smaller house; more like 1500 sq ft. It’s expensive to live in Jersey.

  4. I just read this article on Yahoo earlier today. I thought to myself, I’m middle class but I can’t stand it. As my income rose so did my lifestyle and debt load. I don’t want to be middleclass if one has to have debt and car payments to fit the mold. The funny thing is I just finished reading “Stop Acting Rich” this weekend by Tom Stanley. Very good read about how any middleclass people will do anything to “look rich”.

    Nice comparison.

  5. Simple in France, I was surprised by the “average” annual car costs too.

    frugalscholar, I seriously think that everybody would be happier if their spending matched their values. That’s the ultimate goal, right?

    Jersey Mom, I’m not sure what $200k in Jersey is equivalent to here in Houston, but I do know the expenses are much higher. It has benefits too though, right?

    Jeff, yep, I actually wrote this article during the last week of March and have decided that our car loan just has to go. Hubby agreed when I showed him the interest money that was just evaporating.

  6. I LOVE “Stop Acting Rich”. I read Stanley’s The Millionaire Next Door while I was in college; let’s just say it changed the way I see things. I’ve been thinking about giving it to my cousins as gifts but do you think I’ll offend them?

    Benefits abt living in Jersey? Only that we have lots of relatives here. This state has the highest property tax in the country (the average property tax in our town is $13,000/year). We’re not extravagant people ~ we’ve had 1 car for 10 years and the other for 5 years; we only have 1 TV in the house… overall, it’s just a very expensive state to live in.

  7. Well, I can believe the numbers, but based on those I’m really glad I don’t meet the majority of these points. The only ones we meet are the income and the debt. (And we only meet the debt one because we’re working on tripling our mortgage payment each month.) I can’t fathom spending more than $1000 per month on car-related expenses every month, etc.

  8. Wow, some of this stuff was dead on (we bought our house for $231,00, and our net worth is $87,000) and it’s nice to see that on most of the other things, we’re doing better. We save about 17% of our income, our sedans cost $13,500 each, and both of us have college degrees. Of course, we only have 1 kid, but I think we’re pretty close to most of the averages.

    And I agree with who said it – everyone thinks that they’re middle class! No one wants to be lower class or upper class.

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