What Signifies Middle Class to You?

Monday, September 27, 2010 - 03:44 PM

Here are responses we got by text:

No debt!
—Nashville, Tenn.

Well, the neighborhood is known as middle class, and even though we don't have the nicest cars and the best lawnmower we can still afford for our three kids have Mom at home. We struggle with bills and don't eat the best foods but our kids aren't out causing trouble because their parents are raising them not a sitter or themselves.
—Salt Lake City, Utah

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I am not middle class. But I am happy, so I feel like I am! :)
—Tamara, Baltimore, Md.
Probably education. Some relative mobility. And if I'm honest, a measure of disposable income.
—Pontiac, Mich.

"Around me" ? Lakefront houses, none of which I can afford, other than the ones like that used to film the HBO show "HUNG", which we walk by everyday.
—Pontiac, Mich.
Two cars two kids in private college, based on what I heard today on your show, I am part of the rich class. I don't think I am. I supported Obama Because of change.
—Winchester, Mass.
What class? We left England to escape that very thing.
—Allan, Woonsocket, RI
2 kids, 2cars, 2 jobs, 2 little time to enjoy life because we are so busy paying taxes.
—Providence, RI
Education debt
—Port Huron, Mich.

—Miguel, Hialeah, Fla.
Nothing. I have no income, 110k debt and no possesions.
I take the bus to school.
—Jersey City, NJ

My cubicle
—Jonathan, Columbia, SC
—Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
I went to public school my entire life, I attended public university & now I'm making entry level income at my office job. This makes middle class.


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Comments [12]

Bill from Jackson NJ

It used to mean finishing public high school, getting a job/starting a business, raising a family and buying a car. Then buying a home (suburban) or renting (urban) at some time in the future as the family grew. I don't know what it has become as it doesn't seem to work anymore.
Maybe a Community College education or a B.A. or B.S. degree with entry level job is middle class now if you can find one. Sad but true.

Oct. 07 2010 05:14 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

Middle class means you can finally buy into a false sense of security. No longer hungry to dream and innovate and take chances. But always believing that you're going to become part of the upper class... someday. The engines of society need you to remain where you are and mostly likely will succeed in keeping you there. Yearning.

Oct. 01 2010 10:02 AM
Jennifer from New York, NY

I'm solidly upper middle class-- private schools, lessons, vacations, etc. The only times my parents really worried about money was when their investments weren't doing well.

I went on to earn a BA, an MA, and a JD from three top schools. I had a public interest legal fellowship which ended at the bottom of the market, so I am volunteering my time with an organization to keep my skills fresh, get out of the house, and continue my family's tradition of volunteerism. I am hoping that hiring will pick up so that I can stop taking handouts from my parents, and begin to build for my future.

I've learned that class is not about income alone. It's also about your education, how you speak, your life experiences, your expectations for your career, the type of people in your network, and how you think about money (e.g. saving versus investing).

I recognize everyday how lucky I am to have the background that I have. It has provided me with the means, education, and fluency in the unspoken language of the power-elite.

Oct. 01 2010 09:21 AM
Phil Bunch from Medellin, Colombia

That is hard to say. I recently retired and am adjusting to a new economic reality. My back ground was from childhood poverty into the middle-class and I find myself now with reduced income but without the feeling of being poor.

Things that matter to me are good food, good friends, and opportunities to see and experience new places. These can be fairly local.

Sep. 29 2010 10:50 AM
Janet from metro Detroit

By income, we're surely upper-middle class - two college educated professionals means a gross household income above $100K.

By spending power...probably solidly middle class. Our house is worth about 1/3 less than we owe, and we're paying off debts related to a business that failed, but didn't fail badly enough to qualify us for bankruptcy. Paying our bills takes a huge percentage of our income, and doesn't leave a lot left for other things.

The thing keeping us out of the poor house, though, is health insurance. Our son was born prematurely, with substantial medical issues. With over $2million in medical bills in his first year and easily several hundred thousand more in his second, we would have nothing left without insurance.

Sep. 29 2010 10:17 AM
Phil Bunch

That is hard to say. I recently retired and am adjusting to a new economic reality. My back ground was from childhood poverty into the middle-class and I find myself now with reduced income but without the feeling of being poor.

Sep. 29 2010 10:16 AM
Sandy Cohen from Brooklyn, New York

I am a 65 widow (my husband died at age 44 and that's when I went to college) I am currently a social worker. I am first generation American born and the first in my family to graduation high school, college and earn a master's degree as an adult. I have always considered myself as working class or upper working class. What would make me feel middle class would be home ownership. Since my husband died at 44 and I had two teenage children I was never able to buy a home. I now live in a Mitchell Lama co-op in a middle or upper middle class neighborhood. Both my children are married have children and have moved to different states. Both have master's degrees. I plan to retire at age 66. Most of my retired friends say they are making more in retirement than when they worked.

Well probably too much information.


Sep. 29 2010 09:31 AM
Larry from Short Hills NJ

Being middle class means that I can buy season tickets to the Red Bulls games and that I can buy a new car whether I need it or not.

Sep. 29 2010 09:28 AM

I was gonna send you a pic of two 99.9% silver dollars -- given the direction of the Economy, only those in possession of Gold and Silver will be left in the upper classes -- good luck with collecting FRNs (Federal Reserve Notes)!

Sep. 29 2010 07:31 AM
Larry from Rhode Island

Being Middle class means you can have enough disposable income and an opportunity to do better, to enjoy life and do what you are able but not having enough disposable income to not "have" to work.I would consider the latter rich. When you dont have to work, unless you live above your means and whine..then you are stupid and deserve to suffer

Sep. 28 2010 08:15 AM
sarah from a small cubicle

not using direct withdrawl auto pay lol always muscling the man around. this month pay this first, next month he's last. I like to pretend ive out smarted the system hahahah now thats middle class fun.

Sep. 28 2010 07:45 AM

A mom staying at home is not the only way to have kids who are "out causing trouble"

Sep. 27 2010 07:45 PM

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