19 Signs That Someone Is Clearly Middle Class

Between the ultra-rich upper class and the struggling lower class is a middle class that just about gets a taste of everything—both good and bad. If you’re wondering if this is where you fit, here are 19 signs that’ll clear the air. 

Making Between $30,000 and $210,000

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When it comes to economic classes, the clearest and most distinguishable indicator is how much you make. While the single middle class makes between $30,000 and $90,000, Investopedia reports that middle-income households make between $42,430 and $210,000 per year

Mortgaging a Home

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If you have put down a mortgage on a home, then you’re one step closer to fulfilling the American dream. You have enough stable income and savings to contribute toward owning a home, making you at least better than people who only pay rent. Of course, being middle-class in this sense is hard in states with expensive real estate.

Tax in the 20s

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The percentage of tax you pay is one of the best indicators of your class. Smart Asset paints the picture clearly. Most of the lower class is exempt from filing taxes or only pays a very small percentage of their income. The upper class pays the most income tax, which is set at 37% in the U.S. If you pay between 22% and 32% in tax, then you’re probably in the middle class.

Previously Unaware of Financial Privilege

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Being in the middle class forms a sort of illusion where you see the extravagant lives of the rich and think you’re at the bottom of the financial ladder. Well, you held this until you found someone from the actual lower class and realized you were privileged all along.

Owning a Car

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People in the middle class have cars to freely move around without worrying about cramped train stations or long bus lines. Now, it’s not just about having a car to drive. It’s also about having completely paid off the car, so the only thing you worry about is money for gas, maintenance, and insurance. 

Keeping Up With the Joneses

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People in the middle class don’t want to be perceived as being inferior, so they do everything to appear equal amongst their peers. This means you watch what everyone does or buys closely and try to replicate it. It’s easier since you have the cash flow to support this, and you do it even if this pushes you into debt.

Affording College is Hectic

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Many people in the middle class earn enough money to be disqualified from high-ticket financial aid. But they also earn too little to comfortably afford a college education. The result? A situation where, without proper financial planning, it’s almost impossible to go to college. While talking about the absence of the middle class from colleges, the Washington Post shares that “fewer students are in the middle, especially on the lower end of that middle, just above the cutoff for Pell Grants.” 

Having Retirement Savings

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Do you have enough money to save for retirement? Then you’re part of the middle class. The lower class doesn’t usually have enough money to plan for the future, as all is spent on day-to-day living expenses. Although retirement may not be in a villa in Venice, the middle class has a plan they can fund, at least.

Paying Bills on Time

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For the middle class, there’s cash flow and disposable income. Hence, there isn’t really any difficulty covering the fundamentals like electricity bills, phone bills, and water bills. The catch, however, is that one poor financial decision can change this reality very quickly. 

Being Afraid to Lose a Job

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You may make enough to save for a mortgage or car, but losing a job spells utter disaster for you. It means if you don’t get a job in the near future, you won’t meet your debt obligations, or you won’t be able to comfortably afford basic necessities, among others.  

Affording Healthcare

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The middle class also has enough money to afford healthcare, although this affordability may not be direct. While some (the upper-middle class) can pay for healthcare fully, others have enough to fund health insurance to bail them out of more serious emergencies. 

Having Medical Debt

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In an ironic twist, the middle class is also more likely to be in medical debt than both the upper class and the lower class. A report from Third Way shared that “nearly 17 million (23.5%) middle-class people had medical debt in 2020, higher than the 22% of lower-income people.”

Vacations to Inexpensive Places

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Having disposable income to travel across the U.S. and to countries in Europe is a great sign you’re in the middle class. Don’t confuse this with vacations to countries like Monaco, where travel and accommodation are very expensive. But the middle class can at least afford to stop working for some leisure time on the road.

Nearly All Advertisements Appeal to You

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As Brookings Edu explains, the rich have a lot of money but are few, the poor have little money but are many, and the middle class is the sweet spot for businesses to target. You notice that most infomercials seem to be talking to you, and you always have just enough money to afford that non-essential product.

Prioritizing Safer Career Paths

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For yourself or your children, you prioritize safer career paths, like college education and work in STEM fields. There is not enough financial security to pursue creative or entrepreneurial endeavors, so you go for paths for which there’s a rife employment market. 

Paying for Basic Subscriptions

tech money
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If you’re in the middle class, you easily have an extra $15 for Netflix. This wouldn’t be the only thing you pay for monthly, either. Maybe you have extra for Elon Musk’s X/Twitter, PlayStation Plus, or faster deliveries through Amazon Prime. The lower class is known to pirate or not care about a lot of these.

Having Unnecessary Items In the House

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You’ll probably find the most clutter in the house or space of someone in the middle class. The middle class has enough money to buy what they desire, but they never have the extravagance to throw them away, especially when they aren’t spoiled. So, you’re more likely to have many unnecessary things in your home.

Looking for Health Fads

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With how expensive healthcare or consultations can get, the middle class looks for shortcuts. They have enough extra money to spend, so you see them more interested in health fads than others. They may buy unnecessary supplements, drink a lot of “green” juices, and engage in the popular “5:2” diet. 

Pretending to Be Rich

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Many people know they aren’t part of the upper class. However, they aspire to be and have just enough money to pretend, either through loans or gifts. They buy expensive clothes or expensive cars that leave their accounts dried up, just to push the narrative that they are rich.

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